The Wee Jasper valley lies within the traditional country of the Wiradjuri people, who inhabited the area for tens of thousands of years before European settlement.
The Yass region, including the Wee Jasper valley, has traditionally been inhabited by the Aboriginal Ngunnawal and Wiradjuri Tribes. The Ngunnawal tribe covered the area which is present day Canberra, and also extends into the majority of the Yass Valley area. Wiradjuri covered a large portion of NSW, but only a small part within the western edge of the present day Yass Valley local government area.
Hamilton Hume and William Hovell were the first Europeans to explore the area in 1824. When Gold was discovered at Kiandra in 1859, the track between Yass and Wee Jasper was declared the shortest way to travel from Sydney to the Kiandra goldfields, and thus was frequented by thousands of fortune seeking Europeans and Chinese in their quest to strike it rich.
As you travel down the winding road towards Wee Jasper, panoramic views of the Murrumbidgee and Goodradigbee valleys and the stored waters of Burrinjuck Dam unfold. Clear views of limestone rock formations and extensive folding, millions of years old, can be seen in many of the hillsides and the cliffs arising from the rivers. Geologically described as an "Anticline" formed in the Devonian period, the formation is estimated to be roughly 400,000,000 years old. The dramatic limestone outcrops have significant scientific and education values associated with their structural geology, caves and diversity of marine fossils.
Today Wee Jasper town is a picturesque village of about 80 people in the pretty Goodradigbee valley at the western foot of the Brindabella Ranges, on the backwaters of Burrinjuck Dam.
According to folklore the name Wee Jasper is attributed to an early resident, McBean, an old Scot, who was one of the earliest settlers. McBean, so the story goes, arrived home one day with some "wee" (Scottish for small) "Jasper" (a type of gemstone found in the area)" in his pocket, found in some obscure stream in the hills.
Australia's best known poet, A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson, who grew up in the Binalong region near Yass, used the local 'Coodravale' property on the east bank of the Goodradigbee at Wee Jasper as an occasional country home during the early 1900's so that his children could experience country life. His experiences there are commemorated in 'The Road to Hogan's Gap' and 'The Mountain Squatter'.
The Homestead was built around 100 years ago, as Burrinjuck Dam was going to inundate the original homestead. Now beautifully restored and set in amongst established trees, it has a wonderful atmosphere and presence that has to be experienced. Wee Jasper is the ideal place to just get away from it all, to celebrate or to meet or plan.
Located right here at the festival’s doorstep, the caves have something to offer for everyone! Whether your interests lie in geology, history, music, crystallography or just an exciting adventure, your mind will certainly be blown by this amazing phenomenon! The caves will be open during the festival so do stop by and check them out. You can find all the details on their website www.weejaspercaves.com.
If you plan on getting to Wee Jasper a little early or staying a little longer then check out Wee Jasper Reserves. Wee Jasper Reserves are great camping and recreation grounds located 15 minutes from the Dragon Dreaming site. Camp, fish, relax, and unwind. The Reserves are run by the Wee Jasper Reserves Trust, a not for profit organisation and offer family friendly camping on the banks of the Goodradigbee River, Lake Burrinjuck & Micalong Creek and on the Hume and Hovell Walking Track. No bookings are required but many people might have the same great idea so it can't hurt to get in touch. Check out www.weejasperreserves.com.au for more details.
Boating, sailing, canoeing, lilo-ing or fishing. Whether you prefer to sit on the water's edge idling the hours away in thought or canoeing to the other side whilst the ripples reflect the sun, there's plenty of water around for fun activities. If you do enter the water please be cautious of submerged logs and other dangers. PFDs (life vests) are recommended for boating activities. Alternatively, you can take a short walk up to the waterfall at Micalong Creek.
For those who prefer adventures that get the blood flowing, the Mountain Trails Adventure school offers a wide range of activities including abseiling, kite flying, horse riding, mountain biking, dirt bike riding (12 years and up), hiking, a high ropes course, archery, caving and more. Check out their website for more info mountaintrails.org.au.
Wee Jasper and the surrounding area is home to a myriad of exciting and beautiful activities, sights and experiences. We highly recommend taking the time to explore this magical part of Australia and to get you started, here are just a few of the hidden gems you might stumble across.
On the site of a forgotten village called Sittingbourn not too far away from Lake George in a rustic church, two ceramic artists produce their world renouned pottery at Old Saint Luke’s Pottery and Gallery, achieving unique natural ash glazing finished from an amazing ‘dragon kiln’.
In the middle of Yass stands the Oddfellows Hall, one of the town’s historic buildings built at the height of the wool industry prosperity, featuring beautiful ornamental interiors not built in today’s world.
Tucked in just beside the Hume Highway south of Yass are the Crisp Galleries, with their breathtaking creations in glass and precious stones exhibited throughout.
The fabulous villages of Murrumbateman and Gundaroo offer a bounty of cool climate wines and mouth-watering gourmet foods, from local smoked fish and meats, to chutneys and sauces created from freshly grown produce. You will gorge yourself. We promise!
Check out what’s on, where to stay and tips from locals at www.yassvalley.com.au.