Sir Samuel McCaughey

Leeton and Yanco today exist due to the activity of wealthy Irish land holder Samuel McCaughey, who on his property ‘North Yanko’, demonstrated to politicians that irrigation was possible. His influence led the government to commence constructing a giant irrigation scheme in 1906, and in 1912 the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) was officially opened.

His North Yanko Mansion was built in 1899 to host a visit by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales. Although he was a bachelor, the homestead was a grand double storey brick building, suitable for entertaining visiting dignitaries in style. McCaughey was knighted in 1905 and lived the remainder of his life in the homestead until his death in 1919.

After McCaughey’s death, the building was resumed by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission and was offered to the NSW Education Department as a school to train future farmers. The building then became the basis for the Yanco Agricultural High School and is still used today as administrative offices. Many additional building have been erected since and include classroom blocks, workshops, a dining hall, dormitories, a hospital and assembly hall. Residential accommodation is provided for 350 students.

Sir Samuel McCaughey’s former home can be visited during school hours.
Contact: (02) 6951 1500