Berrima Correctional Centre | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Berrima Correctional Centre

Item details

Name of item: Berrima Correctional Centre
Other name/s: Berrima Training Centre, Berrima Gaol, Berrima Jail
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Gaol/Lock-up
Location: Lat: -34.4877151525 Long: 150.3355230010
Primary address: Argyle Street, Berrima, NSW 2577
Local govt. area: Wingecarribee
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra
Hectares (approx): 3.155
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT7304 DP1146099
LOT447 DP751252
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Argyle StreetBerrimaWingecarribee  Primary Address
Wilshire StreetBerrimaWingecarribee  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Corrective Services NSWState Government22 Oct 98

Statement of significance:

Berrima Gaol is one of the few remaining compounds dating from pre 1840. It is an early example of the application of model prison layouts. Associated with the development of Berrima, and the adjacent courthouse, the Gaol is significant for its phases of use.
Date significance updated: 06 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: James Barnet
Builder/Maker: Convict Work Gangs; Alf Stephens & Sons (1900s Superintendent's residence)
Construction years: 1835-1945
Physical description: Berrima Gaol compound is constructed of sandstone, probably quarried locally. Sandstone was used for the construction of the gatehouse when the facilities were extended in the mid 1860s.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The existence of convict mason marks on the perimeter walls have not been investigated.
Date condition updated:07 Nov 00
Modifications and dates: The buildings within the compound were dismantled at the end of World War 2 and the stolen bricks were reused to construct the present building.
Current use: Correctional Centre
Former use: Gaol; internment camp; depot; store


Historical notes: Berrima is the second oldest (European) settlement in Wingecarribee Shire and the oldest continuing settlement in the shire. The first town settlement in the district was in 1821 at Bong Bong, 8km south-east of Berrima on the Wingecarribee River (Webb, 2008, 9).

The site of Berrima was selected by Surveyor General Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1829 on a visit planning the route for a new road alignment from Sydney to replace the old Argyle Road, which had proven unsatisfactory due to a steep hill climb over the Mittagong Range and river crossing at Bong Bong. In 1830 Mitchell instructed Robert Hoddle to mark out the town based on a plan Mitchell's office prepared, along the lines of a traditional English village (with a central market place and as many blocks as possible facing onto the WIngecarribee River), and using the local Aboriginal name. The new line of road came through the town (Allman Johnston, 2007). Berrima was to be established as the commercial and administrative centre for the County of Camden.

Following the approval of Governor Bourke in 1831, the period 1824 to 1841 saw significant flourishing development as mail coaches changed their route to this new line of road. Early town lots were sold in 1833, predominantly to inn keepers and around Market Square, including the first town Lot sales to Bryan McMahon (Webb, 2008, 9).

Governor Bourke designated Berrima as a place for a courthouse and gaol to serve the southern part of the state (Webb, 2008, 9). With construction of the Gaol from 1835-9 and its Court House in 1838 to serve the southern part of the state the town flourished into the 1840s as mail coaches called, public buildings including churches in 1849 and 1851, establishment of many hotels and coaching houses to service local resident needs and passing trades, persons and commercial travellers. Its 1841 population was 249 with 37 houses completed and 7 more in construction. Research has indicated there were some 13 hotels or grog houses in Berrima at the one time in the early days before the coming of the Southern Railway to the Moss Vale area, which by-passed Berrima (Allman Johnston, 2005).

Convicted London joiner and carpenter James Gough (1790-1876) who arrived on the Earl Spencer in 1813 and gained his conditional pardon in 1821, was awarded the construction of Berrima Gaol in partnership with John Richards in 1834 (Dalkin, 2014, 31).

The old Berrima Gaol was built in 1835-9 at a cost of 5,400 pounds and comprised 34 cells accommodating 66 prisoners. The design was adopted by the Governor, Richard Bourke, from the SIPD (Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline) pamphlet. It was originally designed to hold prisoners from the surrounding areas, but Goulburn Gaol took over this role and it became a subsidiary prison housing sick and aged convicts from other gaols. In 1866, the gaol was enlarged to provide separate cells for 110 prisoners (Webb, 2008, 10).

The 1851 census showed the number of buildings remained the same but the population had dropped to 192. During the 1850s Berrima experienced another boom period after the discovery of gold. When the Great Southern Railway bypassed Berrima in 1867 the town again began to decline as Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bowral developed. Berrima remained virtually unchanged for the next 100 years, preserving the town as an almost intact colonial village (Webb, 2008, 10).

The (Federation style) Superintendent's residence at Berrima Gaol was built by Alf Stephens & Son., Bowral builders in the early 1900s (Morton, 9/6/2014).

The gaol was closed in 1909, and was used by the army during World War 1 as an internment camp and during World War 2 as a depot and store. Between the wars the gaol was opened for public inspection as a place of historic interest. From 1944 to 1949, the whole gaol was rebuilt by prison labour at a cost of 18,000 pounds. Only the entrance and outer walls of old Berrima Gaol were left standing. The Centre was opened in November 1949.

In 1948 the Berrima Training Centre, a minimum security correctional centre opened at the Berrima Gaol. In the 1960s the National Trust of Australia (NSW) started to classify and seek to protect heritage properties (Webb, 2008, 22).

Since the classification of a number of buildings in Berrima by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) in the 1960s, the popularity of Berrima has increased, particularly as a tourist destination. Recent developments in the town have seen the emergence of bed and breakfast accomodation facilities, reflecting the early years of the town's development that provided accomodation for travellers through the construction and operation of various inns (Webb, 2008, 10).

In 1992 the Sydney to Canberra Freeway (F5) bypassed Berrima (Webb, 2008, 22).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Working for the Crown-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Training military personnel-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
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 Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations Providing geriatric and old age care-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Gough, emancipist joiner and carpenter-

Recommended management:


Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementCarry out an Archaeological Assessment 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

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

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0080702 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 018   
Local Environmental Plan  06 Jan 84  35
Local Environmental Plan  06 Jan 88  35
Local Environmental Plan 198912 Jan 90 00700291
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Department of Corrective Services: Interim Heritage and Conservation Register1995018State Projects Heritage Group  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMorton, Philip2014'Highlands history: local builders' View detail
WrittenState Projects Heritage Group - DPWS1995NSW Department of Corrective Services Heritage and Conservation Register
WrittenWebb, Chris & Charlotte2008Conservation Management Plan, Coach & Horses Inn, 24 Jellore Street, Berrima

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: 5045150
File number: H00/00337/01

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