Berrima Inn | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Berrima Inn

Item details

Name of item: Berrima Inn
Other name/s: McMahon's Inn
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Inn/Tavern
Location: Lat: -34.4890551151 Long: 150.3326469790
Primary address: Jellore Street, Berrima, NSW 2577
Parish: Berrima
County: Camden
Local govt. area: Wingecarribee
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP643496
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Jellore StreetBerrimaWingecarribeeBerrimaCamdenPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private17 May 99


Builder/Maker: Brian McMahon
Physical description: The original Inn building and a simple two car garage are the only buildings on this site. The property retains its relationship with Jellore Street and the Wingecarribee River to the north (Webb, 2008, 34).

A simple face brick construction built by 1834 as a purpose-built inn. Traditional colonial 12 pane windows and hipped roof in Colonial Georgian cottage style. A verandah supported on squared posts faced the street frontage. An extension to mirror the original was later added.
Current use: residence
Former use: inn, residence, restaurant/café, craft shop


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).

The (Coach & Horses Inn) property forms part of the first town land sale of Berrima. Bryan McMahon (occasionally recorded as MacMahon) was granted title to the property (Lot 1 Section 2) in 1832, in conjuction with the neighbouring property (Lot 2 Section 2) containing the Berrima Inn, also known as McMahon's Inn. Both lots are at the corner of Bryan and Jellore Streets. (Webb, 2008, 5, 10, 34). Bryan McMahon was an innkeeper of Sutton Forest (Allman Johnston, 2007). The Berrima Inn was one of the first inns to operate in Berrima, along with the Surveyor-General Inn and the Mail Coach Inn (Webb, 2008, 5).

By 1834 McMahon had erected a purpose built inn of simple face brick with traditional colonial 12 pane windows and hipped roof in traditional Colonial Georgian cottage style. A verandah supported on squared posts faced the street frontage. (Webb, 2008, 34).This inn was issued the first Inn licence in Berrima in 1834 which continued to run until 1848 when it became the residence for Brian McMahon and his family, two years before McMahon died. (Webb, 2008, 34).

The neighbouring property, Lot 3 Section 2, was sold in 12/1834 to Michael Doyle, a condition of sale requiring a 'dwelling house, store or other permanent structure to be built on the land to a value of (pounds) 20 or more within 2 years of purchase'. The land was sold to John Ireland in 7/1837. The same month Doyle was granted a liquor licence for the Mail Coach Inn (on Lot 2 Section 2) in Jellore Street. (Webb, 2008, 10).

By the 1840s there were four licenced premises including the Berrima Inn, Surveyor General Inn, Mail Coach Inn and Crown Inn. Prior to the coming of the railway to the Moss Vale area, there were 13 hotels in Berrima. The first licensed inn for Berrima was the Berrima Inn, perated by Bryan McMahon, in 1834. Seven of the early hotel buildings remain today with the oldest (surviving) being the Surveyor General Inn, its first licence granted to James Harper on 29/6/1835. The Breen family, who later bought McMahon's Inn and the Coach & Horses Inn (unlicenced), were involved with two other hotels (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 Jail 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 & 2007).

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).

Bryan Patrick McMahon (son of Bryan) had inherited Lots 1 & 2 Section 2 and in 1862 sold both lots containing the original Berrima Inn and the stone and brick building to Francis Breen (Webb, 2008, 11) from the Commercial Inn (ibid, 34). Governor Bourke executed the inn's land grant in 1862, transferring it to Francis Breen, innkeeper. Breen was already a previous innkeeper having owned Breen's Commercial Hotel in Berrima in 1840 (Allman Johnston, 2007, 13)(since renamed the Colonial Inn, the Old Breen's restaurant and currently named 'Eschalot' restaurant)(Webb, 2008, 11).

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).

The Berrima Inn remained a private residence from its sale to Breen in 1862 until the 1990s when it became a retail outlet for crafts. Since 1990 it has oscillated between a commercial restaurant/cafe and private residence.

In 2005 it was converted back from the Bantam Cafe to a private residence. The original Inn building and a simple two car garage are the only buildings on this site. The property retains its relationship with Jellore Street and the Wingecarribee River to the north (Webb, 2008, 34).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Coaching Inns along roads-
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. Accommodating travellers and tourists-
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-

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 0010302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0010316 Jan 81 835
Local Environmental Plan  12 Jan 90 007 
Local Environmental Plan  06 Jan 84   
National Trust of Australia register House Formerly Mcmahon's Inn/ Berrima Inn144711 Feb 74   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenWebb, Chris & Charlotte2008Conservation Management Plan, Coach & Horses Inn, 24 Jellore Street, Berrima

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

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045487
File number: S90/05778

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.