History & Heritage

Capture the flavour of the past at one of these great locations:

Click here to visit Berrima

Founded in 1831 as the intended centre of the County of Camden (then stretching from approximately Moss Vale to Camden) Berrima was designed to be a major provincial town in the English tradition.

Grand buildings (including the Gaol) were erected using convict labour, and many of these can still be seen today. The town, however, never really grew.

When the great Southern Railway bypassed it in the 1860s, it became - as it were - fossilised in time, even though the main southern highway still passed through it.

In the 1960s, an interest group was formed to preserve the heritage and atmosphere of the village. Now bypassed by the freeway, this conservation effort has resulted in being able to present to the tourist a uniquely historic glimpse of the landscape of a colonial town.

Lots of beautiful old buildings to see, the village green, picnic areas, cafes, restaurants, and interesting boutiques from which you cannot but be tempted to take away a souvenir of your visit.

Just 1 1/2 hours from Sydney. Allow at least half a day for sightseeing. Stay overnight or two and discover the real flavour of this slice from the past. Shops and tourist facilities open all year round.


Completed in 1841, the Berrima Court was the centre for dispensing justice in the Highlands (Camden County), and for hundreds of miles south where towns had yet to be established.

Built of local sandstone, and by convict labour, the Courthouse was feared by malfeasants, criminals, and bushrangers for miles around.

Though judgement was not as harsh as some other notorious colonial courts - the local magistrates in the early days having a reputation of humanity - it was swift.

The condemned were removed to the foreboding Gaol next door, some to face the hangman. Although the Gaol is still operational, today the courthouse is a museum.

Open 10.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. daily. Tour takes about 30 minutes. Guided tours of Berrima also available. Phone 02 4877 1505 for more information.

Cnr. Argyle & Wiltshire Sts., Berrima (opp. Gaol)


Berrima District Museum is operated by the Berrima District Historical & Family History Society. It is located in a nineteenth century weatherboard cottage which originally stood in Moss Vale, and which was donated to the Society and transported to the site in 1976. Subsequent additions have enabled its development into one of the best small country museums.

Fascinating objects illustrate the stories of the Berrima District. These include items made by German enemy aliens while detained at Berrima Gaol during World War 1.

Open 10.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. Weekends, public and NSW school holidays. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Groups are also welcome at other times; bookings essential. Phone 02 4889 4405 for more information.

Market Street, Berrima. Near the Bridge.


A piece of living history, the famous Burrawang General Store was built in 1867 as a store to serve the village of Burrawang.

One of the oldest, continuously operating general stores in Australia, Burrawang General Store until recently retained inside the rows of wooden shelves, old commercial signs, and historic packages and containers which typified such stores before the advent of the supermarket.

The store closed at the end of 1999, but has been renovated and restored and is a popular local cafe and function centre.

11 Hoddle Street, Burrawang

Cockatoo Run RailwayTHE COCKATOO RUN

The Illawarra Scenic Mountain Railway - known as the Cockatoo Run - travels one of the most scenic stretched of railway in Australia, from Sydney to Wollongong and then 600 metres up the escarpment from Unanderra on the coast to Robertson in the Southern Highlands.

Hauled by heritage locomotives and restored carriages of the 30s and 40s, The Cockatoo Run is a day trip to be experienced.

Runs selected Sundays and Wednesdays or Thursdays from March to November. Bookings essential. Allow at least whole day for trip, including lunch in Robertson.

For Bookings Phone Toll Free 1 300 65 3801 or visit the website.


An early Australian Georgian country house (1834) Harper's Mansion is a National Trust (NSW) property and is now open to the public. Restoration is ongoing and some rooms have been refurnished with items typical of the period.

Harpers Mansion also has a unique maze in the gardens, which are worth a visit in spring and autumn.

Open 10.30am to 4.00pm Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays (groups at other times by appointment).

For further information and bookings phone (02) 4877 1508.

Old Hume Highway, Berrima


Located next to the Bradman Oval, the museum contains memorabilia and displays of Bradman's and other famous cricketers' careers, and of the history of the Ashes.

A magnet to cricket fans. Games between international cricketers and local sides are played each year on the Oval, in the spirit of traditional English County games.

Open 10.00a.m. to 5.00p.m. daily (except Christmas Day). Tour takes about 90 minutes. Phone 02 4862 1247 for more information.

St. Jude Street, Bowral NSW 2576

Visit the Robertson Nature Reserve.

Not so much a museum, as a living museum. At Robertson, 5 hectares of nature reserve protecting the last of the historic Yarrawa Brush - dense rainforest which once covered the eastern part of the Highlands.

Now a heritage area, full of birdlife, and with an easy walking trail through natural and original examples of heritage rainforest.

The Rainforest is just a few minutes from the main street of Robertson. Open 7 days, entrance free. Allow 20-30 minutes for walk.

Throsby Park
Throsby Park, Moss Vale

Throsby Park and its surrounding outbuildings were built by the original pioneer of the Highlands Dr. Charles Throsby.

Built c.1834 in the Georgian colonial style (with verandahs), the house was not only imposing at the time, but was later in the century leased by a series of important personages from Sydney, including the Governor of NSW. Dr. Throsby did not live in the home himself, but his heir and nephew Charles Throsby and descendants did. The house was acquired by the Historic Houses Trust in 2010.

Throsby Park has undergone restoration and will revert to a private home under lease from the Heritage Trust.

It will be open to the public only on selected days. Our Events and Festivals pages will post details as they become available.

For general information see Sydney Living Museums website.

Last updated 4/7/14