The original plan in 1830, by Major Mitchell, the Surveyor General, was for Berrima to be the administrative centre for the County of Camden with courts and support services. The village developed slowly due to the delays in building the Southern Road to Goulburn. Once completed, the villagers found that a reliable income could be made by providing accommodation for the travellers that passed along it. In its heyday there were 13 inns and coaching houses.
The court house was completed in 1838 and the gaol in 1839. Both were built to serve the Southern Districts. However this plan was short lived. The Circuit Court moved to Goulburn in 1849, and the last District court hearing was held in 1888. The gaol was closed and remodelled between 1863 and 1869 when its capacity was increased. The gaol was closed again in 1909 and leased to a company for a freezing works from 1913 to 1915. Its existence as a place of correction seemed to be over.
From 1867 freight and travellers were carried via the new rail line though Picton, Thirlmere, Colo Vale, Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale. This reduced the passing trade for Berrima and gradually the small village slipped into decline until the re-opening of the gaol for German internees in 1915.
The Great War and Australia
Germany was formed in 1871 with the federation of the Lesser German States. By 1914 it was a powerful nation. During the 19th century European nations had been expanding their empires around the world. Germany was jealous of the British and French who did not want Germany to gain new colonies. Russia was concerned about Germany’s military strength and its alliance with Austria, an enemy of Russia’s ally Serbia. Russia wanted to control the Balkans, a group of small nations including Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Albania and Greece on the shore of the Black Sea, to ensure Russian ships could reach the Mediterranean. Serbia hated Austria because of its control of Hungary and agitated against it. Turkey was allied to Germany and controlled the eastern shore of the Black Sea. Turkey feared both Russian and Austrian power in the Balkans. Most of Europe had divided itself into alliances to protect each other if war broke out. It was out of this tense and paranoid situation that war exploded. In 1914, Franz Ferdinand, a member of the Austrian Royal family, was assassinated in Serbia. This triggered ‘The Great War’.
Australia, tied to Britain’s defence policies, was willingly drawn into the war providing troops and resources. The Commonwealth Government passed laws that gave it greater powers over the population. More than 3,400 people were sent to prison for crimes such as spreading rumours, wearing a soldier’s uniform without permission, selling goods belonging to the Red Cross and hiding a German.
- 1916 Framed Memento of 20th Berrima Guard
- 1915 – 1918 Berrima Carved Box
- 1900 Berrima Concert Zither
- 1916 Berrima Carved Wooden Shield
- 1917 Berrima Carved Wooden Shield
- 1916 Berrima Serviette Rings
- 1915 Berrima Dolls House
- 1840 Berrima Gaol Cell Door
- 1917 Berrima Dugout Canoe
- 1915 Berrima Merchant Officer’s Service Record Book
- 1916 Berrima D.A.D.G. Banner