The busy Hume Highway winds like a black ribbon through the very heart of this small Georgian village, but so forceful is the town's character that it scarcely impairs Berrima's charm.
(Ed: Berrima was subsequently bypassed in 1989)
Official parties, including explorer Dr Charles Throsby. sent by Governor Macquarie to explore the land south of Sydney in 1818 reported in glowing terms on the excellence of the land and the quality of the pastures. Throsby and nine other Free Persons were granted permission to take up land in the district, and when Macquarie toured the southern counties in 1820 he found the countryside 'particularly beautiful and rich-resembling a fine extensive pleasure ground in England'.
In 1829 Surveyor-General Major Thomas Mitchell chose a 'fine romantic part of the river' (the Wingecarribee) as the most suitable spot for a town. By 1832 the townsite for Berrima was marked out. Convicts started work on the gaol in 1834, labouring in chains, hewing the stone from the river banks. The Regency style courthouse was completed in 1838, and a cluster of inns and hostelries vied for trade as a steady stream of traffic moved between Sydney Town and the south. Berrima looked set for a busy, prosperous future. Then the government decided to move the district court to Goulburn in 1850, and in the 1860s the rail line bypassed Berrima. As the passing trade slowed to a trickle, the town's trade disappeared and people moved away. By the First World War the population had dwindled to eighty.
In recent years, however, the golden stonework of the old inns and houses glows again, as craftsmen and potters have taken up residence; restaurants, galleries and tearooms have opened, and the Berrima Village Trust is ensuring the careful preservation of a remarkable town.
|Source: Explore Historic Australia|
by Margaret Barca 1984
|MORE: History on the Hume series|