Surveyor General Inn, Berrima

After touring the Berrima Court House, you can wander down the road to the Surveyor General Inn.

Surveyor General Inn

Surveyor General Inn

The Surveyor General Inn was established in 1834 and is Australia’s oldest continually licensed Inn.  It was constructed with locally sourced sandstone and was built with convict labour.  A lot of convicts were sent to Berrima to build the court house and the gaol and it was possible for private citizens to also have convict labour assigned to them.

Built with convict labour

Built with convict labour

James Harper, the son of convicts, wanted to build an Inn in a town that was perceived to have a lot of promise.  He applied for convict labour and it was granted.  When the Inn was built, the gaol was still under construction so the convicts were locked up each night in the basement of the Inn.  These rooms still exist and the bars on the windows are still in place.  Today these rooms are used for storage and cellaring.

The entrance to the Inn

The entrance to the Inn

In the early days the Inn was visited by some notorious bushrangers however once the court house and gaol were completed, the bushrangers moved on.  Today the Inn has a bistro named after that part of the Inn’s history.

Bistro

Bistro

In the 1890′s a verandah was added to the front of the building and this became a popular place for guests to sit and enjoy afternoon tea.  The Inn’s reputation spread far and wide and became a place for holidaymakers.  However, with the new railway bypassing the town, Berrima fell into a decline.  Many of the other Inns were forced to shut their doors but the Surveyor General somehow managed to stay open.  Business returned to Berrima in the 1930′s with the popularity of the motor car.  The Harper family continued to own the Inn for nearly a century.

Old-world charm

Old-world charm

By the 1960′s the Surveyor General had gone into a sad decline and was condemned to be demolished.  But the community rallied and funds were raised to preserve and restore the building.

The front bar

The front bar

The current owners have sympathetically extended the building to include The Bushrangers Bistro and today the Inn receives more visitors than at any other time in its history.

Warming myself by the fire

Warming myself by the fire

When we arrived in Berrima I immediately noticed the Inn.  It’s an impressive building that clearly is as old as the town and I guessed it must have been built with convict labour.  The door to the Inn is narrow by today’s standards and when you walk inside the hallway is also narrow, the floors are creaking and the doorways are so low, Carl had to stoop or get a bump on his head.

The sandstone walls inside the Inn

The sandstone walls inside the Inn

The front bar is gorgeous and full of old-world charm and it appears that little has changed since it opened nearly 200 years ago.  There is a large open sandstone fireplace that was warming the room and a few patrons were poking at it and adding more wood.

Beer garden

Beer garden

We walked through to another bar and dining area where you can bar-be-cue your own steaks.  We ordered a drink from the bar and given the convict history of the building, Carl had a James Squire One Fifty lashes.  My white wine didn’t have the same Aussie history attached to it.

Accommodation on the first floor

Accommodation on the first floor

After a drink where we sat at a table with the sun streaming in through the windows, we climbed the old and creaking staircase to see the accommodation.  There are four rooms available with two shared bathrooms.  The accommodation is basic but priced accordingly.

Accommodation

Accommodation

The original owner of the Inn, James Harper, built a home for himself further up the hill from the Inn.  Today it’s known as Harper’s Mansion and is in the hands of the National Trust.  You can tour the house and the gardens on weekends.  Unfortunately, we were there mid-week so missed the opportunity to see the home however, we now have good reason to return to Berrima.

Surveyor General Inn:  Old Hume Highway, Berrima NSW 2577

Ph:  02 4877 1226

Surveyor General Inn

Surveyor General Inn

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Comments

  1. Isn’t it lovely to spend a time soaking up history like that? Brilliant place to stay although shared bathrooms aren’t my favourite. :)

  2. Thank you for sharing the history of your area with your readers.

    The daughter of immigrants who straddles 2 different cultures/countries (I was 7 when we came to Canada), I am aware that south-western Ontario has a rich history as well, but by the time I was able to get around on my own to explore it, I didn’t have the time to do so. Now that I do, I don’t have the inspiration or energy for that matter. And now I’m feeling guilty for not learning more. :)

  3. Ah general stores are always fun to visit.

  4. The sandstone is so beautiful Charlie! It’s wonderful that this great piece of history was able to be saved and appreciate by so many generations- here’s to many more decades of enjoyment! Xox

  5. Such a gorgeous old inn. I love these old Australian places full of history and simple accomodation. Just as well it was ‘saved’ by the locals. James Squire fifty lashes- yum.

  6. That old wooden bar is just gorgeous – sounds like a place with lots of character and I would love that accommodation as I love rooms that are imbued with history. So glad the locals saved this pub from demolition. What was the menu like?

  7. I love stumbling on places like this where you can almost feel the history. Hope you’re enjoying yourselves!

  8. Lovely photos and interesting historical tale. Think I have been here also, but my second husband’s favourite was a historical cellar pub close to the jail and down some stairs – fun and atmospheric . . and, of course, the name escapes me and it may be closed by now, tho’ it was always packed when we visited . . . . well, it has been some years :) ! Thanks for reminding me of this . . . . must talk some friends into having a run down!!!!

  9. I love Berrima. It’s the sweetest little town…actually so many of the Southern Highlands towns are lovely. Must be time for another visit I think.

  10. You look as though you are deep in thought in that pic where you are in front of the fire Charlie! :D

  11. What an amazing history. It’s so nice to see that there are still some places around that have such a story. Must have been mighty cold at night being locked up underneath!

  12. What a fun day out – and lovely old world accommodation.

  13. I love these sorts of weekends and what a great looking pub.

  14. Quaint and cute accommodation, I would totally visit :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  15. You post such interesting historical stuff, and it’s always so lovely (I can remember word to word your recount of the light and sound show of that murder trail..shudder). And of course the ability to find just perfect gems. I would love to spend some time here….

  16. I love historical and traditional buildings/architecture/interior design than modern kinds (my husband prefers modern building, so we’re completely opposite). Love the sandstone wall… wish I have it at my house. :D

  17. I think Berrima would a wonderful place to visit. I love the history that’s been preserved in these old buildings. We have the equivalent of the National Trust to preserve many of our nation’s historical buildings, but I’m always impressed with the individuals who work so hard to maintain them and keep the public interest sharp. I would definitely want to study all I could find about this town!

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