Bathurst Correctional Centre | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Bathurst Correctional Centre

Item details

Name of item: Bathurst Correctional Centre
Other name/s: Bathurst Gaol, Bathurst Jail
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Gaol/Lock-up
Location: Lat: -33.4193395372 Long: 149.5583255420
Primary address: Browning Street, Bathurst, NSW 2795
Local govt. area: Bathurst Regional
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Bathurst
Hectares (approx): 16.5362
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP110042
LOT1 DP125781
LOT2 DP125781
LOT3 DP125781
LOT1 DP134798
PORTION190 DP750357
LOT1 DP795564
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Browning StreetBathurstBathurst Regional  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Corrective Services NSWState Government06 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

Bathurst Gaol is significant as one of two model prisons designed by the Colonial Architect's Office in the late 1870s and early 1880s; as an indication of advances in penal architecture in the late nineteenth century; for its continued use as a gaol.
Date significance updated: 01 Nov 00
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Colonial Architects Office: J Barnet, W Vernon
Builder/Maker: William Smith
Construction years: 1888-
Physical description: Bathurst Gaol is composed of a square compound with a gatehouse and two watch towers located at the far corners. The Governor and Deputy Governors Residences are located outside the main compound walls. Internally the (now demolished) chapel formed the focus of the gaol. Four cell ranges and the cookhouse radiated out from the chapel. On one side of the chapel forecourt was the totally separated female compound. On the other side was the male hospital.

Bathurst and Goulburn gaols were almost identical in plan. Goulburn however remains more intact.
(NSW Dept of Corrective Services Heritage and Conservation Register, 1995)
Further information: Prior to planning any further works the preparation of a conservation plan is recommended. No further demolition of significant buildings should be permitted. It is recommended that a maintenance plan for all of the heritage buildings should be prepared. Further development should not obscure the original plan layout. Significant original fabric and modifications should be retained.
(NSW Dept of Corrective Services Heritage and Conservation Register, 1995)
Current use: Correctional Centre
Former use: Gaol


Historical notes: Aboriginal people and colonisation.
Aboriginal occupation of the Blue Mountains area dates back at least 12,000 years and appears to have intensified some 3000-4000 years ago. In pre-colonial times the area now known as Bathurst was inhabited by Aboriginal people of the Wiradjuri linguistic group. The clan associated with Bathurst occupied on a seasonal basis most of the Macquarie River area. They moved regularly in small groups but prefered the open land and used the waterways for a variety of food. There are numerous river flats where debris from recurrent camps accumulated over a long period. European settlement in this region after the first documented white expedition west of the Blue Mountains in 1813 was tentative because of apprehensions about resistance from Aboriginal people. There was some contact, witnessed by sporadic hostility and by the quantity of surviving artefacts manufactured by the Aborigines from European glass. By 1840 there was widespread dislocation of Aboriginal culture, aggravated after 1850 by the goldrush to the region (HO and DUAP, 1996, 88).

Prior to European settlement in Australia, the Wiradjuri Aboriginal group lived in the upper Macquarie Valley. Bathurst was proclaimed a town by Lachlan Macquarie on 7 May 1815, named after Lord Bathurst, Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies (Barker 1992:25). Bathurst is Australia's oldest inland township. It was proclaimed a town in 1815 with the discovery of gold.

Governor Macquarie chose the site of the future town of Bathurst on 7 May 1815 during his tour over the Blue Mountains, on the road already completed by convict labour supervised by William Cox. Macquarie marked out the boundaries near the depot established by surveyor George Evans and reserved a site for a government house and domain. Reluctant to open the rich Bathurst Plains to a large settlement, Macquarie authorised few grants there initially, one of the first being 1000 acres to William Lawson, one of the three European explorers who crossed the mountains in 1813. The road-maker William Cox was another early grantee but later had to move his establishment to Kelso on the non-government side of the Macquarie River (GAO, 2005, 8).

A modest release of land in February 1818 occurred when ten men were chosen to take up 50 acre farms and 2 acre town allotments across the river from the government buildings. When corruption by government supervisor Richard Lewis and acting Commandant William Cox caused their dismissal, they were replaced by Lieutenant William Lawson who became Commandant of the settlement in 1818 (ibid, 8).

Macquarie continued to restrict Bathurst settlement and reserved all land on the south side of the Macquarie River for government buildings and stock, a situation that prevailed until 1826. In December 1819 Bathurst had a population of only 120 people in 30 houses, two thirds being in the township of Kelso on the eastern side of the river and the remainder scattered on rural landholdings nearby. The official report in 1820 numbered Bathurst settlers at 114, including only 14 women and 15 children. The government buildings comprised a brick house for the commandant, brick barracks for the military detachment and houses for the stock keeper, and log houses for the 50 convicts who worked the government farm. Never successful, the government farm was closed by Governor Darling in 1828 (ibid, 8).

Governor Darling, arriving in Sydney in 1825, promptly commenced a review of colonial administration and subsequently introduced vigorous reforms. On advice from Viscount Goderich, Darling divided colonial expenditure into two parts: one to cover civil administration, funded by New South Wales; the other for the convict system, funded by Britain (ibid, 10).

By this time, J.McBrien and Robert Hoddle had surveyed the existing grants in the vicinity. Surveyor James Bym Richards began work on the south side of the river in 1826. But the town was apparently designed by Thomas Mitchell in 1830 and did not open until late 1833 after Richards had completed the layout of the streets with their two-road allotments. The first sales were held in 1831 before the survey was complete (ibid, 10).

In 1832 the new Governor, Major General Sir Richard Bourke, visited Bathurst in October. He instructed the Surveyor General Major Thomas L. Mitchell to make arrangements for 'opening the town of Bathurst without delay' and he in turn instructed the Assistant Surveyor at Bathurst J.B. Richards to lay out the blocks and streets. This was done in September 1833. It is believed that Major Mitchell named the streets, with George Street being named after King George III.

Bathurst Gaol:
The gaol was built in 1888 at a cost of just over 102,000 pounds. There were 320 cells designed for single occupancy. Marble cutting and polishing provided works for the prisoners between 1893 and 1925. The gaol accommodated the tougher and more experienced prisoners until 1914 when the gaol then catered for the 'previously convicted but hopeful cases'. During WW1, rural industries such as dairy, pig-raising, market gardening, hay and fodder production were established. During WW2, the gaol was used as an internment camp for some 200 German and other 'enemy aliens'. In 1957-62, a new cell block was built outside the gaol's wall with accommodation for 94 prisoners. In 1974, riots at the gaol caused much damage to the main buildings. (NSW Dept of Corrective Services Heritage and Conservation Register, 1995)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th Century Infrastructure-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Detaining enemy personnel and aliens-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Incarcerating prisoners-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Jail-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementBathrust Correctional Complex CMP Jun 19 2018

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0080602 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental Plan  27 Mar 87   
Register of the National Estate  25 Aug 81   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGovernment Architect's Office2005Bathurst Hospital Conservation Management Plan

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012135
File number: H00/00297/01

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