Yackandandah is a former gold mining town in northeast Victoria between Beechworth and Wodonga. It is an attractive historic village situated in a valley amidst a series of substantial hills. The name Yackandandah is said to have derived from two Aboriginal words meaning “rock” and “water-hole” which relate to one large rock sitting on top of another in what is now known as Yackandandah Creek. It has also been claimed that Yackandandah means “country of hills“. The town is affectionately known as “Yack” though in more recent times, it has increasingly been referred to as the “Dandah” by its younger residents.
The streetscape is largely unchanged from its heyday as a goldmining town. Many of the buildings, dating back to the mid and late 1800s, are genuinely historic and attractive, so much so that the entire commercial centre, known as the Yackandandah Conservation Area, has been classified by the National Trust.
The main street, High Street, is lined with shady English trees (some planted in the 19th century), verandahs, tea houses, galleries, a couple of country pubs, some gracious churches and an increasing number of antique shops.
Deciduous trees line many of the town’s streets which are particularly colourful during autumn. The local information centre is located on High Street in the old Athenaeum – an institution for the promotion of scientific or literary learning which often takes the form of a library and reading room. The Classical Revival building was erected in 1878 with a strong classical facade, pediment and columns. It was once the social and intellectual centre of the town, housing 3000 books and two reading rooms.
On the same side of the road as the Athenaeum, a little further east, is the stone Bank of Victoria building (1860) which now houses the Yackandandah and District Historical Society. It consists of the bank and the manager’s residence (1850s). Banking ceased in 1893.
West of the Athenaeum along High St on the corner with Wellsford St is the post office. The original post office (Yackandandah’s first public building) was a timber structure. Half of the present building dates from 1863. Additions were made in 1887.
Yackandandah has been featured in numerous Australian period films such as the telemovie “The Far Country” and was used for the filming of the 2003 movie “Strange Bedfellows“(starring Michael Caton and Paul Hogan). The film director and writer Dean Murphy grew up in nearby Kergunyah, which is 38 km away and spent much of his childhood in and around Yackandandah. Nearly everyone in Yackandandah has appeared in the movie.
Yackandandah is also home to the annual Yackandandah Folk Festival which attracts local, Australian and international artists.