Photo: Bob Nash’s book launch – Father Mick Burke, Bob Nash and Mark Vergano.

When Bob Nash launched his book Walking Through the Gates of History on Friday, April 8 at the Lovat Chapel, he unveiled an interesting recount of an era of Yass Valley history from a very personal perspective and an important contribution to keeping our stories alive.

Bob explained he had been encouraged to record his experiences during his thirty-seven-year connection to the Catholic establishment, the precinct of the Mt Carmel and St Augustine’s, by close friend and former Yass-based priest Father Mick Burke who gave the launching address. Many of the anecdotes recounted by Father Mick have been recorded by Bob in his book.

Father Mick upon retirement in front of the Lovat Chapel

As MC for the evening Bob’s son-in-law Mark Vergano acknowledged the contribution of the Ngunnawal people on whose land the Lovat Chapel and Hartigan Centre stand and this was confirmed by Father Burke who described the land as indeed sacred.

Bob’s family has more than a hundred-year connection to the district with his father and grandfather keen figures in the local passions of horse racing, church and pubs, at one time owning both the Federal Hotel and the Australian hotels. As Father Mick said, “Bob’s stories are our stories”.

Bob wanted to focus on the “day to day happenings” and reading his book is like sitting down with a favourite old uncle as he reminisces about school days, his time as President of the Parish Council, and his pivotal role in the restoration of the Lovat Chapel and Hartigan Centre buildings.

Bob claims he knew every nook and cranny of the buildings which was in- valuable information as the restoration work progressed. He also described enthusiastically the discoveries he and the workers made as hidden features came to light.

Bob Nash with his new book

With a modest smile he explained his book is based on “events that are only stored in one’s memory and passed on through generations by word of mouth, some of them facts, some of them with a little twist maybe, and some of them possibly fantasy or fiction”.

What is obvious is Bob Nash’s valuable long-standing contribution to preserving this part of Yass’s physical and social history. As a guest explained at the book launch “What we are standing in here in the Lovat Chapel, and much more, is all due to Bob Nash”

By Judith Davidson for the Yass and District Historical Society.