Berrima township was founded in May 1831, its site chosen by Major Thomas Mitchell when he laid out a new line of road to link Sydney with Port Phillip (Melbourne). It was to be the main administrative centre south of Sydney, complete with gaol and courthouse and service hub for travellers and local settlers.
This book tells the story of the township’s first ten years. Early chapters explore the layout and sale of the town’s allotments, the four-year struggle with building the gaol and courthouse, the first residences that were established around its large market square and its first school.
Later chapters focus on the people. Initially there were sometimes sixty to eighty convicts housed in a stockade to quarry and cart the stone for the for the new government buildings. Supervising them was a contingent of the military. There were skilled stonemasons and carpenters to construct the buildings and, once the buildings were completed, bureaucrats and police to administer law and order.
Among the general population there were innkeepers, merchants and tradesmen.
This is the story of the township and the ex-convicts, ex-military, first generation Australians and free immigrants who made it their home. Many arrived with limited means but were able to purchase or rent a small allotment, establish a business and raise their families. For many, Berrima offered the opportunity of a much better life than they had left behind.