WHEN JO Stephens travelled through Yendon on the Geelong-Ballarat Railway as a young girl, each time admiring the town’s hawthorn hedges, she never imagined living there.
Now she cannot imagine living anywhere else.
Yendon was a bustling township - a long time before Ms Stephens ever travelled through - and was particularly important in the gold rush.
The railway station opened the town up where industry, like the Tri Saw Mill, could send supplies to either Ballarat or Geelong. Then road freight really started its stranglehold.
Yendon Railway Station was close in the 1970s, the building dismantled and its beautiful bluestone now found in retaining walls for the University of Ballarat.
Yendon became a quaint commuter village complete with school, post office and general store.
Ms Stephens says they “don’t have anything much” anymore.
But a dedicated residents’ group, including Ms Stephens, keep the town’s recreation and reserve committee, fire brigade and auxiliary, Red Cross, historical society and Landcare group alive.
Little-by-little, they are marking the town’s historical sites, replanting the Avenue of Honour and modernising the playground to keep Yendon’s community spirit alive.
Most residents now are young families and retirees enjoying the rural lifestyle, not far from Ballarat.
“It’s still really an undiscovered little area,” Ms Stephens said.
“We have a turnover of people - once children start to grow up, families usually move into Ballarat, but while they are here, they love it.
“I love the space, I love the country and the bush south of us can’t be built over because it’s a catchment area.
“We’re higher altitude than Ballarat, so it’s a bit colder, but it’s all about lifestyle.”
Each Christmas, everyone in the town gathers to celebrate and socialise together at the recreation reserve and really embrace their sense of community.
Municipality: Moorabool Shire
Population: About 200. There are 106 residences in the locality.
First settled: early 1860s as Buninyong East. Officially named Yendon in 1976.
Main industries: Agriculture, vegetables.
Claim to fame: Private homestead Lal Lal Estate has been home to the Fisken family for six generations. The working property is popular for weddings.
Five fast facts
1. At its peak, Yendon boasted three hotels, two churches a post office, police office and public hall. A bakery, drapery, butcher, blacksmith and bootmaker were also in town.
2. Trial Saw Mill produced timber for road planking in the 1850s.
3. Yendon Station was a key stop on the Geelong-Ballarat Railway. The station was demolished in the 1970s after 106 years’ service. Its stone was used for retaining walls at the University of Ballarat’s Mt Helen campus.
4. The township’s first station master was also the town’s post master.
5. The man who invented Vegemite, Cyril Callister, went to school in Yendon.
Five things to do
1. Buy fresh and direct produce from Yendon Gourmet Tomatoes in Harbours Road. The farm gate-sales use the good old-fashioned honesty system, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
2. Gather your loved one/s for an afternoon drive. This beautiful, bush township has amazing scenery and quiet roads to explore.
3. Visit the old Yendon Rail Station. In its heyday, this station won prizes for its beautiful gardens. Remnants remain and the Yendon Historical Society has interesting factual signs on the Harbours Road site.
4. Hit the playground at the recreation reserve. The township is working on funding to revamp equipment.
5. Stroll through the township’s Avenue of Honour. More oak trees will be restored and planted this year.