Yea is a town in Victoria, Australia. It is in the Shire of Murrindindi local government area. Located 109 km north-east of Melbourne via the Melba Highway, Yea sits at the junction with the Goulburn Valley Highway, and 172 metres above sea-level. At the 2006 Census, Yea had a population of 1581.
The area was historically inhabited by the Taungurung people. The first Europeans in the area were a party of explorers lead by William Hovell and Hamilton Hume, who crossed the river at a point near the locality in 1824. Their favourable report of the grazing land they had observed contributed to the formation of a new settlement that is now known as the state of Victoria.
The first settlers in the district were overlanders from New South Wales, who arrived in 1837. By 1839, settlements and farms dotted the area along the Goulburn River.
The town was surveyed and laid out in 1855 and named after a Colonel Lacy Yea who was killed in the Crimean War. Town lots went on sale at Kilmore the following year. Settlement followed and the Post Office opened on January 15, 1858.
The townsite was initially known to pioneer settlers as the Muddy Creek settlement for the Yea River, called Muddy Creek until 1878.
When gold was discovered in the area in 1859 a number of smaller mining settlements came into existence, including Molesworth. Yea expanded into a township under the influx of hopeful prospectors, with the addition of several housing areas, an Anglican church (erected in 1869) and a population of 250 when it formally became a shire in 1873.
After the proceeds of the goldrush, the town of Yea survived on the back of[weasel words] farming and timbergetting (chiefly from the Murrindindi forests). The heyday of the Yea sawmilling industry was from 1907-1915, when the great War saw many men enlist, and then another boom was between 1923 to 1930, after which the onset of the Great Depression saw production greatly reducing as demand fell. In these times of huge production, there was in excess of 2.5 million feet of timber sent out each year over the tramlines to Cheviot.
What later became the railway to Mansfield arrived in 1883, with an extension to Molesworth in 1889, chiefly for timber transport to Melbourne. Running steam trains, the train service cut through steep hills and undulating country to connect the shire with the main city. The line was closed on November 18, 1978, with the last passenger service running on May 28, 1977. Although much of the railway property has been appropriated by nearby farmland, the original tracks and crossings may be still be discerned across the countryside, and the railway station, built in 1889, has now been converted to a Heritage Information centre.
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 Post Office was built in 1890, followed by a Grandstand and a Butter factory (now Cheese factory) 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 had increased to 1126 and has remained relatively stable, despite two severe floods in 1934 and 1973 and a major conflagration in 1969. The Limestone Road Baragwanathia fossil site has been registered in the National Estate due to the discovery of the most ancient leafy foliage so far found on earth.
The town’s high school is Yea High School. The school also runs the Access Yea Community Education Program (AYCE), a state-wide educational program that is designed to help school leavers and other students who do not fit into the regular school system
Yea INFO Centre
Phone: (03) 5797 2663