Photo: YDHS Archives

The opening of the Liberty Café was a long time ago. It opened in December 1939 to great acclaim with the proprietor Mr Dodds stating his intention to make the Liberty café “a social centre for the citizens of Yass equal in service to metropolitan catering standards”.

Its sophisticated Art Deco décor was designed to complement the fabulous new architecturally designed Liberty Theatre next door and to provide a meeting place for patrons before and after an evening out at the movies.

The Yass Trib-Courier report of December 1939 reflects the excitement this new venture created: “The shop has a most attractive front with glass entrance doors. An extensive stock is displayed.”

“A feature of the cafe is the modern milk bar – It is promised that the milk bar will be a feature where fancy drink mixtures, Peter’s ice creams and, by special order, unique frozen desserts will be dispensed and the back bar fittings are particularly attractive.”

“There are four suspended lights down the centre of the ceiling. Ladies and gents’ retiring rooms and two writing desks for the use of commercial travellers have been provided.”

“The waitresses will wear rust uniforms and the boys’ white coats and the café will accommodate sixty people. On both sides of the room are loges with comfortable upholstered seats, and chairs down the centre. The walls are panelled to a height of six feet and a heavy green carpet, 54 feet by 7 feet, has been laid down the centre of the building.”

The well-travelled Mr Roger Watkins of Sydney reported in January 1940 “in all our travels we found nothing to beat the modern cafe with its conveniences you have here in the Liberty Cafe.”

Since then the Liberty café has been a venue for many a lively gathering and memories of fun and friends.

With the exciting drive to redevelop the Liberty Theatre, what an opportunity to eventually create a unique tourist, and local, attraction for the Yass District if the Liberty Café could be restored to its 1939 Art Deco glory.

This revisiting of a progressive and exciting development for Yass is not just about nostalgia.

As explained in 1939 “Carpenter’s Corner for years was an “eyesore” because the land was tied up in an estate. What was formerly an old-time blacksmith’s shop has been transformed into the most modern corner block in Yass”. So it can be done.

The Yass and District Historical Society would love to hear your stories of the Liberty Café. Please drop us an email on

By Judith Davidson