Travel the lands of outlaws and explorers
As you travel through the areas surrounding the ACT, you’ll discover a rich past of notorious outlaws, colonial explorers, and historic architecture. Here are some essential steps on your trip.
“He heard the guns roar beside him,
And he heard the bullets crashing.
But he was laughing raising his hand from his pistol,
And he fired the shotgun blast.
An excerpt from Banjo Paterson’s dramatic poem “How Gilbert Died” recounts the police shootout that killed infamous bushranger Johnny “Flash” Gilbert in 1865 near Binalong.
Gilbert, who was for a time Ben Hall’s right-hand man, sparked a crime wave in the Yass Valley throughout the 19th century and was was allegedly involved in hundreds of armed robberies.
Today a mural in Pioneer Park depicts the shooting that killed Gilbert, as Paterson recounts in his poem, while the bushranger’s grave stands off Burley Griffin Way.
He is just one of many bushrangers who stalked southeastern New South Wales in the late 1800s.
From Bowning to Binalong to Yass, traveling through the areas surrounding the ACT will reveal a past not only rich in the exploits of these notorious outlaws, but also filled with colonial explorers, centuries-old machines and historical architecture.
On your way, there are plenty of places to stop that will bring this story to life. In this special file, “CityNews” discovers some of these spots, even a bar where the poet with the 10 dollar bill himself had a drink.
The proud produce store is steeped in history
VISITORS can step into 140 years of history at The Old Produce Store in Binalong, with its original storefronts, double brick walls and welcoming environment.
Owned by bushwoman entrepreneurs Mikhara Ramsing and Dr Elise Stephenson, the shop tells the story of Flash Johnny Gilbert through the words of famed Australian poet Banjo Paterson, as depicted in the eight-metre mural by award-winning Janet Dawson Archibald, outside the store.
“We stock a variety of jams, marmalades, relishes and sauces,” says Mikhara.
“Made the old-fashioned way, all of our produce is sourced locally and slowly cooked while stories are shared across our extensive range.
“Grabbed straight from the wagon and into your loot, our Binalong Bushranger blends are gourmet, Australian-made and truly delicious.
“Some of our best sellers include our fig jam; whiskey jam; tomato relish and not forgetting our range of hot sauces Blazing Hot Saddles. Boil the billy while you’re at it? Also discover our range of Miks Chai teas!
“All of our products support regional Australian businesses, many women-led, and focused on a social business model. Our Miks Chai range donates 50% of its profits to rural suicide prevention.
While the Old Produce Store was founded in 2018, Mikhara says the building itself first opened in the 1880s on a wide dirt street as people rode across for supplies. in goods.
“Over the decades, the shop has hosted many businesses, including rural traders and more,” she says.
“Today it is proudly run by two enterprising bushwomen who are committed to stocking quality Australian produce within a 150 kilometer radius of Binalong.”
The Old Commodity Store, 25 Fitzroy Street, Binalong. Visit binalongbushrangerblend.com.au
The bar where Banjo himself drank
The Bowning Hotel has been around for more than a century, so old that famous Australian poets Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson drank there, says owner Chris Clarke.
Previously known as the Commercial Hotel, Chris describes the historic Bowning landmark as a “good old Aussie pub and more”.
“The Bowning Hotel is located 10 minutes from Yass and an hour from Canberra. It offers a warm, friendly and family-friendly place for receptions,” he says.
“In 2011 the interior was completely renovated to include a new dining room, kitchen, bar and multi-purpose room.”
Chris says the restaurant is open Wednesday through Saturday nights.
“There are ATMs and TABs available. A courtesy bus will pick you up in and around Yass Friday through Sunday and other nights upon request,” he says.
The Bowning Hotel, 2 Leake Street, Bowning. Call 6227 6008 or bowninghotel.com.au
Wine bar with local accent
YAZZBAR has been around for more than nine years, says owner Deb Hamilton, who took over last year.
“I was managing it before I owned it and it was getting busier and busier, and eventually it was getting too busy,” says Deb.
“My vision was to expand it and make Yazzbar a destination – to make Yass a destination – for Canberrans or customers driving from Sydney to Melbourne.
Deb says Yazzbar has great tapas food and live music two or three nights a week. Many musicians come from Canberra and our wine list is made up of only cool climate wines from Murrumbateman and Canberra.
“We do our wine list seasonally and we have whiskey tastings; we have two gin tastings in spring and summer,” she says.
“The Irish and Celtic Music Festival is in Yass and Yazzbar presents it.
“The grand opening will be Thursday night, then Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will have music ranging from blues to Irish to Scottish from 11am until late.”
Yazzbar also has a backyard, with two fire pits, lights and candles, “which creates a nice ambiance.”
“The next big event is November 12, the Yass Wine Fest,” says Deb.
“It will feature 18 local winemakers from Canberra and surrounding areas as well as distilleries, Tumut beers and some from Tumbarumba.”
Yazzbar, 81-85 Comur St., Yass. Call 0434 105119 or visit yazzbar.com.au
Friendly service surrounded by history
MARILYN Duffy says she and her husband’s family have been in business for 36 years, running the Motel Royal Tara.
“Our 20-unit motel, 50-seat restaurant and conference and reception center in Binalong offer friendly service and a reputation for fine dining,” she says.
“Some of the attractions for guests are a quaint historic village, quiet surroundings, walking trails and a weekend getaway, an 18 hole golf course, local swimming pool and two synthetic tennis courts for the more energetic .
And, said Marilyn, Johnny Gilbert is buried in Binalong.
“He rode with the Ben Hall gang because they were very active in that area in the late 1800s,” she says.
“They were stealing very fast racehorses for a stud here to keep ahead of the soldiers, and when they had worn them out they would give them back and steal some more.
“Johnny Gilbert was responsible for 630 robberies and was shot near Binalong in 1865 by the soldiers and is buried here in a grave marked with a white picket fence in a cut just off Burley Griffin Way.”
Royal Tara Motel, 27 Stephens Street, Binalong. Call 6227 4310 or visit motelroyaltara.com
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Ian Meikle, editor