Yass Valley continues to evolve from a community traditionally reliant on agriculture into a growing, modern and regional community, where new and innovative businesses can prosper and are being recognised nationally and internationally.
Sharing a border with our nation’s capital, Yass Valley is a special place where people know their neighbours and love the wide open spaces and fresh country air. Our residents have unique work and educational opportunities whilst enjoying the charm of living in the country. The best of both worlds!
In 2015-16, the total value of the tourism sector was $50.9 million. The sector contributes 211 full-time equivalent jobs across a range of accommodation, food service and recreational activity businesses. The region receives approximately 377,000 visitors annually with over 250,000 day visitors drawing from its locational advantage of nearby Canberra.
Key sectors for the region's tourism industry include: food and wine; nature and outdoors; and heritage and arts. The region is blessed with a vibrant and diverse events calendar with event clusters in the late summer-early autumn and spring seasons. Consistent with much of Regional NSW, a key market for Yass Valley is the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market, accounting for over 30 per cent of visitors to the region.
Investment in the region's tourism industry has been strong over recent years with an increase in accommodation, attractions and food and beverage product across the Yass Valley local government area. Of note, is the 2018 addition of 50 rooms in the heart of wine country by the Abode Group – Abode Murrumbateman. This property provides much needed tourism accommodation infrastructure to support the region's wine tourism industry.
Yass Valley Council takes a proactive approach to supporting the region's tourism sector with a dedicated business unit providing destination information services, destination marketing, industry and product development. The region's tourism industry is supported by a Destination Management Plan (DMP) that aims to provide a pathway to develop the industry and drive the region's visitor economy. The DMP is a regional plan developed across the eight local government areas of the Canberra Region by Destination Southern NSW in conjunction with local tourism operators, local government, Visit Canberra and Destination NSW.
In 2015-16, the total value of agricultural output in Yass Valley was $250.8 million. The sector supports over 1,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generates over $30 million worth of international exports. The largest sectors within this industry were livestock slaughtering’s ($29M) and wool ($20M). Cereal and broadacre crops ($4M), vegetables ($3.7M) and hay ($2.8M) are also significant sectors (2010-2011). The value of the wool industry and broadacre hay and cereal crops is steadily declining, however, the value of vegetable productions has risen significantly in recent years. The increase in vegetable production is primarily driven by the development of two large mushroom farms. Wine grape production has levelled off somewhat and the number of wine grape growers has consolidated. However, there remains scope to increase wine grape production to meet increasing demand as the region’s reputation for high-quality cool-climate wine increases.
Due to its proximity to Canberra and access to transport networks, Yass Valley is an ideal location for specialty and niche food and agricultural products. These enterprises could provide alternative employment for those currently commuting to Canberra as well as offer additional tourism experiences. Less than 10 per cent of agricultural jobs in Yass Valley are in agricultural support services such as research, advisory services or input suppliers. However, again, the proximity to Canberra and national research agencies such as CSIRO, offer opportunities to host these types of organisations. Yass Valley could also offer warehousing and value-adding services for high-value food products destined for export through the Canberra International Airport.
The South East Livestock Exchange (SELX) is testament to the regions strength as an agricultural centre with the capacity to sell 3,800 cattle and 30,000 sheep on any given sale day, and generated $164 million of livestock sales in its first year of operation.
Clementine is certainly the new darling of Yass Valley. This 50 seat European style bistro off the main street of Yass town is situated in a unique weatherboard cottage and serves brunch and dinner Thursdays to Sundays.
Owner operators, Adam Bantock and Brooke Sainsbury, can take full credit for the success it has received since it first opened in December 2015.
So how did two ex-Sydney siders who had lived and worked in bustling Hong Kong and Shanghai come to create such a thriving restaurant in Yass? The short answer - they wanted lots of space. The long answer - they found their space. And they found it on a site close to Canberra, close to Sydney, in between Sydney and Melbourne, close to the South Coast, close to the snow, and the BIG bonus – right in the middle of an emerging wine region.
And then, there were the people. This pair did their research on the demographics of Yass Valley’s population and felt that the high median income, and mix of older residents with the younger family demographic, plus the fact that it is an area that was, at the time, about to boom in terms of food and wine, would do just fine for Clementine.
The pair employs 14 staff and have established some wonderful relationships with quality local suppliers – they source local honey, local pork and lamb, and the local wine. Clementine showcase ONLY Canberra region wines on their wine list.
Brooke and Adam are also raising their young children in Yass, and Brooke says she loves the great sense of community that the region offers. She’s also converted her parents who have recently moved to Yass and enjoy local Rotary, art groups and Men’s Shed activities. So, you could say that Yass Valley was a good find, all round.
Majestic Mushrooms is a mushroom growing business located in Murrumbateman in Yass Valley, and owner operators, Ian and Helen Chu definitely aren’t keeping us in the dark about their business success in the region.
The couple bought their property in Murrumbateman ten years ago and started their mushroom growing business from scratch, building their climate controlled growing rooms, and producing about two to three tonnes of mushrooms each week.
Skip forward just five years and they have expanded to produce 20 tonnes of handpicked White, Swiss Brown and Portobello mushrooms per week, employing around 15 staff who come from the local Yass Valley and Canberra regions. And their fresh fungi is now sold in Canberra at some of the best fruit and veg shops, markets, supermarkets and restaurants, as well as throughout NSW and around Australia.
Ian and Helen credit their success to having a good business plan, great connections, knowing their competitors, focusing on quality mushrooms and good customer service. Combining these elements with their ever-present commitment and dedication, Ian and Helen ensured they found a niche market in an area which is close to both Sydney and Canberra.
They say they love Yass Valley and it’s a great place to start a business and raise a family – not too far from Canberra, beautiful rolling hills, great neighbours, plenty of wildlife …some might say it’s majestic.