Mayoral message – June 2020

I write this as COVID-19 restrictions relax across the state. Students are back at school, local businesses are re-opening their doors and people are able to travel to our wonderful part of the world again. We are ready to welcome these changes – at a safe distance, of course.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the people of the Yass Valley for doing their bit to flatten the curve. The global COVID-19 health crisis has been unlike anything we have seen in our generation. We have had a huge task and we must not forget that it came at a great personal and financial loss for a lot of people. Our community is a strong, resilient and compassionate community.

I want to thank each and every one of you for staying at home when we were told to do so, for adjusting the way we live and readapting our businesses to try and cope with our new ‘normal’. Thank you for continuing to support our local businesses, which have worked so hard to keep going against great odds – every takeaway coffee, meal and service has contributed to keeping our local businesses alive and our local residents in jobs.

While our restrictions are relaxing we still have an important role to play – it is vital that we continue to follow health and safety guidelines to ensure our people stay in jobs, our businesses stay open and our residents stay safe and well. As we enter winter in the Yass Valley, we need to be mindful of maintaining our physical distance and practising good personal hygiene. Even if we have the mildest of symptoms present, we should get ourselves tested – the Yass Hospital is running a free COVID-19 Clinic from 10am to 12pm weekdays.

Our Council facilities and services are reopening – Customer Service, the VIC, and the Library are back open to the public. There are modifications, restrictions and guidelines in place as the health and safety of our community members and staff continues to be our number one priority. I know how important these facilities are to the community and I’m happy we can reopen them for use but I do ask for your patience as our staff roll out these changes. There are still tight restrictions that need to be adhered to and essential processes that must be followed to allow us to reopen and stay open. Again, I direct you to Council’s website for all the latest and up-to-date COVID-19 related information and details on the impact upon facilities and services.

We have another important task to consider on Saturday, 4 July when we vote in the by-election of our Federal seat of Eden-Monaro, a traditional bellwether electorate. Ill-health has forced Labor MP Mike Kelly to resign and I wish him well on behalf of the Yass Valley Local Government Area and thank him for his past support and contribution. COVID-19 is likely to have an impact on the conduct of this by-election but it is important, perhaps more than ever, that we make our voices heard.

The Barton Highway duplication remains at the very top of our local wish list. We want our new Federal Member to fight hard to deliver the long awaited duplication of the entire length of the vital transport and commuter route. Council also has a number of shovel ready projects begging for Government funding, for example the Yass Water treatment plant upgrade, a primary school for Murrumbateman, the Yass Swimming Pool redevelopment, walking trails and other small projects to boost our local economy. I look forward to working with the new Federal Member.

Cr Rowena Abbey
Yass Valley Mayor

Council update – water treatment

Yass Valley Council has endorsed as its preferred option the design and construction of a new water treatment plant – with an estimated project cost of $31.9 million – at the May Ordinary Council meeting.

Council staff have worked closely with HunterH2O, Department Planning, Industry & Environment – Water and NSW Health to address the issues and concerns in relation to the existing water treatment plant.

The preferred option was chosen from four shortlisted options as it addresses the colour, odour and hardness of the water quality and minimises the risk to the town water supply during construction of the upgrade.

“We wanted to ensure that the option that was chosen is one that is going to be effective for many years to come and will also allow for the incorporation of future alternate technologies,” Mayor Rowena Abbey said.

“Now that we have decided on the best option, Council will continue to work with HunterH20 and stakeholders to complete a detailed design and business case which is a requirement by the State Government,” Mayor Abbey said.

The detailed design is due for completion late 2020. Council will prepare a submission to the State Government to fully fund the construction project.

Laptops for Yass High

On Friday 29th May, Yass High School welcomed some very special guests, Stuart Meadley and Simon O’Toole from DXC Technology, and they came armed with 30 reconditioned laptops to help support Aboriginal and Indigenous students.

Students Tom Bell, Emily Fuller, Anthony Chambers, Stuart Meadley from DXC

Stuart and Simon were joined by Aunty Lillian, Brad Bell from Onerwal Local Aboriginal Lands Council, Bob Buffington from Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, Rhianna Connors-Johnston, and Thaddeus Connors from Willyama Services, Ryan Cassidy from Commonwealth Bank and Simon O’Toole and Stuart Meadley from DXC Technology.

“The Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Indigenous Business Banking team, DXC Technology, and 100% Aboriginal-owned, local and Supply Nation-certified Indigenous technology company, Willyama Services, are providing much-needed technology equipment to rural and regional communities,” Stuart said.

Thank you for this incredibly generous donation!

Winter rainfall outlook

The Bureau of Meteorology released its 2020 Winter Outlook, with most of the country showing an increased likelihood of wetter than average conditions in the coming three months.

The Bureau’s Manager of Long-range Forecasts, Dr Andrew Watkins, said there were only a few areas across the country that weren’t looking at a wetter than average winter.

“Most areas of mainland Australia are showing a better than 70 per cent chance of having a wetter than average winter,” Dr Watkins said.

“The only exceptions are the coastal fringes of NSW and eastern Victoria, parts of Tasmania and areas of southwest WA where the outlook isn’t pushing towards wetter or drier than average conditions.”

“Parts of northern Australia are also showing no strong push towards wetter than average conditions, but this is typically the dry season anyway.”

Dr Watkins said the outlook was being largely driven by warmer than average ocean temperatures off north west WA, as well as warm ocean temperatures in the western Pacific.

“Ocean temperatures in the eastern Indian Ocean are currently warmer than normal, and our models are predicting they will warm further throughout the winter months.

“When warm sea surface temperatures occur closer to Australia, weather patterns shift towards us too, favouring more cloud and rainfall across the country.

“We last saw this happen in 2016, when a strong negative Indian Ocean Dipole formed to the west of Australia. This was the last time we saw tropical moisture from the northern Indian Ocean deliver good winter rainfall to large parts of Australia.

“We aren’t guaranteed the same results as 2016, but the warmer ocean temperatures surrounding the continent will push us in the direction of better than average rainfall.

“As always, it’s important people use the outlooks in conjunction with all of the Bureau’s other tools to make decisions, including the seven-day forecast which will provide details on potential rainfall for the immediate days ahead.”

Daytime temperatures throughout the winter months are expected to be cooler than average for much of the southern half of the country, but warmer than average along the eastern seaboard and most of northern Australia.

Overnight temperatures are likely to be warmer than average across the entire country.

“When we look at the expected temperatures, they really fall in line with the expected rainfall conditions.

“Areas with a higher chance of above average rainfall are also looking at increased chances of cooler than average days because they are more likely to have cloud cover and more evaporative cooling in the coming months.

“Conversely, it means our nights are more likely to be warmer than average, because that cloud cover will prevent heat from escaping during the evenings.”

Yass Hospital Redevelopment – update

(Part of $304 million Multipurpose Service (MPS) program)

New emergency bay at Yass Hospital


The new Emergency Department at Yass Hospital is nearing completion and will deliver the Southern NSW Local Health District (LHD) greater capacity to manage the potential operational impacts of COVID-19.

Yass Emergency Department remains open and it is business as usual for community members needing to
access medical care.


The Yass Hospital Arts and Heritage Project User Group (PUG) meeting was held in March 2020, with all participants having clear aspirations to ensure the arts integration at the hospital reflects the rich heritage in Yass.

An arts plan is now being developed and this will look to incorporate the following components:

  • A heritage graphic at the main entrance
  • Rotational displays in key circulation areas

Existing artwork, many of which have been donated by community members, are to be reframed and redistributed in areas such as palliative care rooms, waiting areas, and hallways. The plan is focused on ensuring arts and heritage are at the heart of the Yass Hospital.

NSW, and the Yass Valley, begin to reopen

NSW coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, cafes, hotels, pubs, galleries, holidays, and beauty services have lifted today as social-distancing measures around the state are eased significantly.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian hopes relaxing the guidelines will help kick-start NSW’s economic recovery from the virus, which has left more than 200,000 people out of work in her state.

Pubs, cafes, clubs and restaurants can have 50 customers inside their venues at once, but only if patrons have 4 square metres of space each. Alcohol can be purchased without food, but all customers have to be seated while in the venue. Most venues (not just clubs) will require you to sign in so that, in the event of a covid-19 outbreak, they can contact you.

Restaurants can not take bookings of more than 10 people. Some larger venues, like the Yass Soldiers Club, will be able to accommodate more than 50 people, as long as they are seated in separate dining areas.

Beauty and nail salons can open for business, but with strict measures in place. Customers must adhere to social-distancing requirements, which means one person per 4 square metres, and no more than 10 clients in a shop at any one time. Tattoo studios in NSW will stay shut.

Non-essential travel is permitted in NSW from today, meaning people can book a holiday in Sydney or in regional areas.

Cultural institutions such as museums and galleries will be able to reopen today, but with strict caps on the number of people allowed in at any one time. Visitors to art galleries and museums will need to purchase online tickets before their arrival, and no groups or tours will take place for now.

Libraries will also quarantine borrowed books for 24 hours after they are returned. Yass library will begin reopening from Tuesday 9 June.

Churches, mosques and synagogues will be able to have 50 people at services, provided they are large enough to adhere to the 4-square-metre rule. Twenty people will be able to attend weddings, while 50 people will be able to go to funerals.

Some things aren’t changing — for instance, people will still not be able to invite more than five people to their homes, and gatherings of more than 10 people in public open spaces are banned as authorities try to mitigate the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

We’ll be updating this during the day as more Yass Valley businesses update their reopening plans.

(with links to their opening announcements)

  • Gundaroo Colonial Inn – open Monday 1 June.
  • Murrumbateman Pub – open Monday 1 June.
  • The Roses Cafe – open Monday 1 June.
  • Kaffeine 2582 – open Monday 1 June.
  • Galutzi Cafe – open Monday 1 June.
  • Yass Bowling Club – open Monday 1 June.
  • Yass Soldiers Club – open Thursday 4 June.
  • Yass Golf Club Bistro – open Friday 5 June.
  • Rollonin Cafe – open Thursday 2 July.

To add to the list, drop us a line on facebook or email

Applications are now open for Local Heritage Grants

Applications for Yass Valley Council’s 2020/2021 Local Heritage Grants Program are now open with $19,000 in funding available for heritage conservation projects.

Local Heritage Grants aim to contribute to the preservation of structures of historical value and to foster positive attitudes towards heritage and conservation.

St Columbas prior to the roof restoration

In 2019, six groups received Heritage Grants across the Yass Valley. St Columba’s Church in Bookham used the funding to undertake important restoration work, including the replacement of the church roof.

“I am very grateful to Yass Valley Council and the Heritage team for appreciating the charm and character of St Columba’s Church, Bookham. On two occasions the Council has made it possible for preservation work to be carried out on the Church,” said Marguerite Julian.

“The crowning glory is a shining new roof replacing the old iron rusted one. It really has made a huge difference with many travellers stopping and admiring this historic building constructed in 1910 and the community feeling a sense of pride in Bookham. I think these grants are a fantastic opportunity for the community to upgrade treasured buildings for future generations.

Mayor Rowena Abbey said the Local Heritage Grants Program is a way for Council to provide financial assistance to enable maintenance projects to structures of significant historical value to ensure their conservation for future generations.

“Council’s financial support is needed more than ever as COVID-19 has presented many challenges and prevented many groups from fundraising in their usual ways,” Cr Abbey added.

Applications for the Local Heritage Grants Program close at 5pm on Friday, 3 July 2020.

More information and application forms are available on Council’s website by following this link

Update – Yass Water Treatment Plant Upgrade Project

At its recent meeting, Council received a progress update on the options for the Yass Water Treatment Plant Upgrade Project. Council endorsed as its preferred option the design and construction of a new water treatment plant option with the estimated project cost of $31.9 million, as it addresses the colour, odour, and hardness water quality issues and minimises the risk to the town water supply during construction of the upgrade works.

In addition, Council noted that a new water treatment plant would allow for the incorporation of alternate technologies and capacity and seeks early advice from the consultants of the potential for incorporating these technologies into the detailed design options.

Council will be pursuing additional funding to implement the preferred option for the Water Treatment Plant.

Council 2019/2020 Community Grants Round 2

Ten community projects have received $28, 650 in funding under round two of Council’s 2019/2020 Community Grants Program.

  • Murrumbateman Progress Association Inc. – $4,000 – portable grandstands for use at events.
  • Murrumbateman Village Markets Committee – MPA Inc. – $1,650 – upgrade of interior and exterior lighting of the Recreation Ground food shed.
  • Murrumbateman Mens Shed Committee – MPA Inc. – $4,000 – reverse cycle air conditioning.
  • Gundaroo Soldiers Memorial Hall Management Committee – $3,000 – replacement of lighting and installation of fans.
  • Gundaroo Website Subcommittee GCA Inc – $2,000 – website development.
  • Gundaroo Memorials Subcommittee GCA Inc. – $2, 200 – a memorial avenue of trees.
  • 1st Yass Scout Group SAA – $4,000 – painting of exterior of the Scout Hall.
  • 1st Yass Scout Group SAA – $4,000 – removal and replacement of internal asbestos panels.
  • Yass Community Radio Association Inc. – $1,500 – upgrade of equipment.
  • Yass Netball Association – $2,300 Inc. – storage cage for netball equipment.

$3.6 million funding boost to build a new bridge on Shingle Hill Way

Yass Valley Council has received $3.6 million in funding from the NSW Government to undertake the realignment and replacement of a low level crossing with a concrete bridge structure on Shingle Hill Way.

The successful grant of $3,600,053 from the NSW Fixing Country Roads Grant Program will allow Council to upgrade the sub-standard section of a significant east-west link across the region. Council will provide $400,000 from the Development Contributions Reserve to complete the project.

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said Fixing Country Roads was introduced by the NSW Government from the Restart NSW Fund as a targeted program to help local councils tackle freight connectivity issues.

“I am delighted that the NSW Government could provide funding to Yass Valley Council for Shingle Hill Way and I congratulate Council on working closely with the local community, industry and the NSW Government to secure this funding,” Ms Tuckerman said.

Shingle Hill Way is a significant connector road between the Gundaroo/Sutton Road and the Federal Highway. Currently, the road has a 10 tonne load limit, which will be removed once the project is completed.

“During heavy rain, Shingle Hill Way is closed due to flooding of the low level bridge located at the crossing point of the Yass River. An application was submitted to the NSW Fixing Country Roads Program to allow these works to realign the approaches to the Yass River crossing and construct a new dual lane concrete bridge at an adjacent location,” said Interim Director Infrastructure & Assets Steven Beasley.

Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey said the current restrictions impact transport links through the Council area resulting in major traffic diversions and transport costs to road users.

“The reconstruction of this section of Shingle Hill Way will significantly improve east-west transport routes, including freight and tourism, increase flood immunity and remove a significant impediment to freight movements across the Council area,” Mayor Abbey said.

“Council is grateful to the State Government for the funding, which will allow the vital project to proceed.”

The new concrete bridge will have an approximate span of 45 metres. Preliminary works are already underway including a survey, geotechnical investigation and a review of environmental factors. The project is due for completion by mid to late 2022.