Yea (including Ghin Ghin, Highlands,
Caveat, Molesworth, Flowerdale and Glenburn)
Attractive small rural centre in the Yea
Yea is an attractive town of around 1000 people
situated on the Yea River in a fertile valley
focused on pastoral activities and dairying. It
is 109 km north-east of Melbourne via the Melba
Highway, at the junction with the Goulburn
Valley Highway, and 172 metres above sea-level.
The area was occupied by the Woiwurung people
before white settlement. The first Europeans in
the area were the party of explorers William
Hovell and Hamilton Hume who crossed the Yea
River near this point in 1824. Their favourable
report of the grazing land they had seen led to
the settlement of what is now Victoria.
The first settlers in the district were
overlanders from NSW who arrived in 1837. Most
of the good land along the Goulburn had been
taken up by 1839. Yea would later develop on the
Murrindindi run (the homestead is still standing
to the south of town).
The future townsite was initially known to
whites as the Muddy Creek settlement, as the Yea
River was called Muddy Creek until 1878.
The town was surveyed and laid out in 1855
with town lots going on sale at Kilmore the
following year. It was named after a Colonel
Lacy Yea who was killed in the Crimean War.
Gold was discovered in the area in 1859 and a
number of smaller mining settlements came into
existence at this time, including Molesworth.
Yea grew as a service centre to the diggers.
Hall, built 1894
An Anglican church was erected in 1869 and
Yea became a shire in 1873, at which time the
population was about 250.
When the gold ran out the town survived on
the back of farming and timbergetting. The
railway arrived in 1883. Yea was promoted as
something of a tourist centre in the 1890s with
trout being released into King Parrot Creek to
attract recreational anglers. A butter factory
was built in 1891. There was a proposal in 1908
to submerge the town under the Trawool Water
Scheme but it never went ahead.
By 1911 the town's population was 1126 and it
is roughly the same today, despite two severe
floods in 1934 and 1973 and a major
conflagration in 1969.
Things to see:
Tourist information can best be obtained from
the shire offices in High St, tel: (03) 5797
2209 or from the visitor centre at Alexandra,
tel: (03) 5721 1000 or free-call (1800) 652 298.
There is a pamphlet which outlines Yea's
historical buildings and it can be obtained from
the shire offices or the visitor centre at
Start near the corner of High St (the main
thoroughfare) and North St at the western end of
town. At 16 North St is an intact private
residence dating from 1876 when it was
constructed of local handmade bricks.
Walk back to High St and head eastwards (in
the direction of Alexandra). At High and Webster
is one of Yea's earliest homes. The original
kitchen is located to the rear of the house.
Manor, now a restaurant
At 111 High St is Beaufort Manor, now a
restaurant, built in 1876 of local handmade
bricks. By the corner of High St and Melbourne
Rd are the shire offices. Behind them is Yea's
original schoolhouse, built in 1877 with
extensions in 1885 and 1901.
Near the shire offices is the post office
(1890). Duck down The Crescent which heads off
High St back towards Station St. In a grassed
area by the bowling green there is a monument to
Hume and Hovell who crossed the Yea River near
this point in 1824 on an expedition which would
ultimately lead to the settlement of Victoria.
Nearby, at Lyons and Pelissier, is St Luke's
Anglican Church (1869). Walk along Pelissier St
then turn left into The Parade. Just along here,
to the left, is the Sacred Heart Church which
replaced the original timber building in 1902.
The presbytery dates from the 1890s.
Return to St Luke's and cross over to the
corner of Station and Anne St. The second-hand
shop dates from 1889 when it was erected as a
general store for a well-known Chinese resident,
Mr Lee. Walk along Station St to the railway
terminus (1889), considered a fine example of a
Victorian Gothic station.
Return to High St and cross the road to the
Grand Central Hotel, built in 1901 as the
Caledonian Hotel. Next door is Baynes Furniture
Store which was built in 1891 but relocated to
this spot in 1920. Just past it is a side
street. Walk along here to the recreation
reserve where you will see an old-style pavilion
dating from 1891.
Return to High St and turn left. The Westpac
Bank was built in 1901 for the Commercial Bank,
Purcell's commercial store was built in 1887,
and the oldest section of what is now the
Country Club Hotel dates from 1856 when it built
as the Commercial Hotel. At High and Wood is the
old police residence (1894). The stable and
storage store were added in 1900.
Cross back over High St to the Shire Hall.
Originally a single-storey structure it was
rebuilt in its present form in 1894. Carter's
Cafe, next door, was erected in 1887 as the
Commercial Bank and it retains its original
Scenic Drive - Ghin Ghin, Highlands,
Caveat and Molesworth
To the north of town is a rolling granite
plateau which rises to an elevation of 600 m.
The acscent is along a narrow dirt road with a
sheer drop to the left. However, it is a truly
scenic trip through some quite dramatic gorge
Follow the highway west for 4 km and turn
right. 6 km along this road is the former gold
town of Ghin Ghin, now little more than a
locality. Another 10 km will bring you to
Highlands. On the way you will pass Mt Broughton
(660 m), on the right.
From Highlands you can either head west to
Seymour (32 km) or due east to Caveat (12 km).
The latter route takes you up Wattle Hill (680
At the 10 km mark, there is an intersection
where the road to Caveat meets the Molesworth
Rd. At this corner (2 km west of Caveat) is a
stone circle created by sculptor Michael Hall.
It is intended as a reference to the ancient
stone circles of Scotland which were used to
chart the movements of the heavenly bodies and
was created to celebrate the centenary of
Scottish settlement in the area.
At Caveat itself is the Catholic Lady of
Seven Sorrows Church. Built in the 1920s, it
reflects the Central European architectural
heritage of the original Czech settlers. The
bell was imported from Germany and the panel
behind the alter was painted by a Czech artist
from Sydney. Also at Caveat are Antcliff's Chase
Wines (see next entry) and 'The Grotto', a
memorial statue to those same settlers. Further
north, along the back road to Euroa, are
Dropmore Mineral Springs.
Return to the stone circle and follow the
Molesworth Rd south for 14 km where it rejoins
the Goulburn Valley Highway at Molesworth, 13 km
east of Yea. Molesworth was settled by John Ridd,
a direct descendant of the John Ridd who was the
protagonist in R.D. Blackmore's famous novel,
Lorna Doone. The property is still called Lorna
Antcliff's Chase Wines
Antcliff's Chase Wines, established in 1982,
produces riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and a
cabernet ensemble. The cellar door is open from
10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. weekends or by
appointment, tel: (03) 5790 4333.
Scenic Drive - Railway Tunnel
Head east along the Goulburn Valley Highway for
2 km then turn right onto the Limestone Rd. 6 km
along is an old railway tunnel which is
allegedly the state's largest.
8 km south of Yea, along the Melba Highway, is a
turnoff on the left into Murrindindi Rd
(signposted as 'Tourist Road 4'). By this corner
is 'Murrindindi', a good example of an early
vernacular homestead which was built in 1844-45
on the first pastoral run in the immediate area.
There is a kitchen and stable block and a
two-storey wing was added to the homestead in
1912. The woolshed dates from 1881 and the whole
is set in fine gardens. It is occasionally open
for inspection but remains private property. It
is set back from the road somewhat but can be
seen from the roadside.
Murrindindi Rd heads south-east through
Murrindindi Reserve. The road takes you by
Wilhelmina Falls, 32 km south via the Melba
Highway. Further along is another waterfall
known as the Cascades. The reserve supports a
range of fauna including wombats, lyrebirds and
Murrindindi Vineyards, established in 1984, is
located on the Murrindindi-Cummins Rd at
Murrindindi, to the south of Yea (phone for
directions). They produce chardonnay and
cabernet and are open by appointment only, tel:
(03) 5797 8217.
25 km south-west of town via the Whittlesea Rd
(North St) is Flowerdale where you will find
Flowerdale Winery, tel: (03) 5780 1432. The
drive is quite scenic, passing over green hills
28 km south along the Melba Highway is Glenburn
where you can pick your own fruit (in season) at
Berry King Farm, located on Two Hills Rd, tel:
(03) 5797 8348.