Population: 777 (inc. New Berrima; 2006 census)
|Berrima is a unique and historic village. Established in 1831, it is the only example of an existing and largely preserved Australian Georgian colonial town.|
Located in a picturesque valley on a bend of the Wingecarribee River, Berrima was chosen by Governor Bourke to be the adminstrative centre of the County of Camden, which comprised new lands discovered and settled to the south of the new colony from Cowpastures (Camden) to Argyle (Goulburn).
The original government settlement in the Highlands was moved to Berrima in the 1830s, and work began on a Court House (1838), Gaol (1839), and buildings to house officials and police.
By this time there were already a number of inns (Berrima Inn, 1834; Surveyor General Inn, 1835), residences, and other businesses catering to travellers on the new line of road surveyed by Thomas Mitchell from Mittagong to Paddy's River.
In later years a number of other fine colonial Georgian and Victorian buildings were erected (churches, schools, inns, stores, residences), many of which have been restored under the supervision of the National Trust.
Surveyor General Inn (1835) - Australia's oldest continuouosly licensed inn
Berrima did not remain for long the centre it was intended to be. As new settlements opened in the interior, the focus of administration (and justice) moved to Goulburn and further inland.
Several major events have helped preserve the unique heritage of Berrima.
The first, and probably most important, was the building of the southern railway which bypassed Berrima and resulted in the development of new towns to the east which became the main centres of population in the Highlands. Continual development has seen few of these retain much of their earliest heritage or character.
Secondly was the formation of an heritage group in the 1960s which began the work of preserving and restoring some of Berrima's most significant buildings. The village today owes much to this work.
Finally, the construction of the freeway bypass (1992) has allowed the village to return to a more tranquil and beautiful setting, and countless thousands of cars and trucks no longer rumble through its streets as in the days of its position on the main southern highway.
The White Horse Inn (1832)
Today Berrima village is a vast combination living museum, playground, and social centre, not too spoilt by the masses of tourists it attracts. There is more than enough to interest and amuse all (even the kids) for a whole day - well into the night!
Explore the village square, streets, and lanes and admire the picturesque buildings. (Not all are open to the public - many are private homes and to be admired from outside.) Cringe beneath the walls of the Gaol, which still houses (low security) prisoners. Visit the museums, art galleries, and antique shops.
There are dozens of art & craft, souvenir, and specialty shops; boutiques; cafes, restaurants, and Australia's oldest continuously licensed inn.
Berrima is only an hour and a half from Sydney, Canberra, and the South Coast, and perfect for a day trip. Those in search of a quiet escape might stay a few nights at the many good accommodation houses.
Weekends are busy at Berrima throughout the year (when there is even more to see and do), and public and school holidays very busy. The astute traveller might like to visit midweek (Tuesday to Thursday) when they can browse and relax over a fine meal or refreshments at leisure, away from the bustling crowds and while the kids are still in school.
More information can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre about what to see and do, including guided walking tours and visits to the nearby Joadja ghost town.
Harper's Mansion (1830s) - a national Trust property.
For further details see our Past and Present pages.
Berrima Gaol (1839)
|Major Events & Festivals|
- January: Australia Day - ceremony, parade, and fair in the village square
- Village market - 2nd Sunday of every month
|What to See and Do |
The Berrima Tourist Information Centre at the Court House (next to Gaol) is the main tourist information bureau for Berrima: a stop here is a must for what to see and do.
Regular guided walking tours can be booked (and for groups), and there are horse & coach rides (weekends and holidays).
Berrima has a dozens of very good shops and galleries: antiques, art gallery, crafts, souvenirs, clothing, gourmet foods, confectionery, nurseries, toys, collectables. Crafts and toys also available at the shop at the Gaol, with the added frisson that they were made by prisoners!
Berkelouws, the famous rare bookshop, is 5 minutes away, and has a picnic area.
The famous Surveyor General Inn has a bistro, bars, beer garden, and live entertainment on weekends. Numerous cafes, take-aways, and good restaurants inluding White Horse Inn - which are not only renowned for their Georgian decor, but fine cuisine (but you will need to book ahead here on busy weekends and holidays).
Plenty of motel, hotel, self- contained and good B&B accommodation - some in heritage buildings, and a camping area. Parks, barbecues, and large covered picnic areas (suitable for coaches).
The village square is surrounded by historic buildings, some now businesses. Visitors should see the Berrima and Courthouse museums - as a visit inside here helps to preserve the heritage of the area. Wander through the streets around the court house to see some interesting and fine old buildings. Several attractive churches, but no longer regularly open. Harper's Mansion, a National Trust property is open weekends and public holidays.
Emu & Ostrich farm, and wineries nearby. Platypus, wombats, wallabies and abundant birdlife in the reserves along the river further out of town.
Breens Commercial Inn (c.1840) - now a restaurant
Several parks, good playground; walking and exploring the streets and shops. Talk to the alpacas at the Alpaca Centre (weekends). Good craft and toy shops and heaps of things to see and buy in little shops. Curious things to see in Peppergreen antiques (including kids clothes and toys from olden days). Ride in a horse-drawn cart or coach.
See what life was like in grandma's day at the Berrima Museum; see the inside of a prison cell. Harper's grand mansion will give you an idea of what a home looked like almost 2 centuries ago - lose yourself in its baffling maze!
Peer up at the spooky walls of the Gaol inside of which many bushrangers were hanged; find the buildings where ghosts are known to haunt (White Horse Inn, Old Breens - now Eschallot).
Best lolly shop this side of heaven. Horse riding nearby. Visit the emu farm at Joadja.