Berrima is a unique town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It has over 80 heritage listed sites including many Colonial, Georgian and Victorian buildings. Berrima was first inhabited by indigenous people. White settlers acquired their land in the early 1830s after the small settlement of Bong Bong near Moss Vale, was found to be unsuitable. The water supply at Bong Bong was unreliable and it was decided to re-route the road so that travelers did not have to navigate the challenges of the steep Mittagong Range.
The Berrima area was selected in 1829 by Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General of NSW as the site had a reliable supply of water, sandstone for building and the river was easy to cross. The town plan was drawn by Robert Hoddle in 1830 and approved by Governor Bourke in 1831. It was planned that Berrima would become the centre of administration and industry for the County of Camden, with a plan to establish a tanning and textile industry. Planned along English lines, the town was built around the Market Place initially. The countryside soon became devoted to grazing and farming however the textile industry did not eventuate.
Berrima circa 1900
As the main road south was built, the importance of Berrima became well-known as a coaching stop for passengers and coach drivers to rest overnight. Many inns were built for the use of travelers and locals. Most of these inns are still standing in Berrima as are other buildings dating back to the 1830s. Travelling drovers used the Market Place to hold their stock for overnight stops. Roads opened up the countryside to settlers wanting to farm and find a living further away from Sydney.
The gaol was opened in 1840, a year after the court house. Berrima became home to people from many nations, especially from the United Kingdom, who brought their cultures and skills to the new country.