COFFEE @ Stones Patisserie, Berrima 2577.
The heritage-listed Crown Inn, constructed in 1885 on the Old Hume Highway in Berrima, is home to the French-inspired Stones Patisserie. The lovely adaptively reused two storey sandstock brick building incorporates a gallery space toward the rear of the building and a high-tea lounge on the first floor that is available for private bookings.
Stones Patisserie is a bright fresh space. Openings in the internal walls have been made in order to connect the spaces, while the remaining brickwork makes it possible to clearly see the original room layout. The kitchen is located at the front of the café so that customers can observe the bread and other pastry delights being made. The adaptively reused c.1885 building provides a great opportunity to enjoy a delicious coffee and pastry in a heritage listed building.
Indoor seating near an open fireplace is perfect on cold days whilst the outdoor seating provides ample opportunity for people watching.
NOW & THEN around Berrima.
In the early 1800s the earliest road leading south from Sydney was considered to be difficult to use, so Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell was commissioned to find a more suitable route. The search resulted in Mitchell advising Governor Bourke that the area known today as Berrima was an ideal site for a town.
In 1830 Mitchell instructed surveyor Robert Hoddle to mark out the town based on a plan his office had approved; Berrima was to be established as the commercial and administrative centre for the County of Camden with courts and support services.
By 1840, the Court House and Gaol had been constructed. When the new road south was completed, there was an increase in traffic to the area and some enterprising villagers realised that they could earn a steady income by providing accommodation to travellers passing through the area.
Berrima was prosperous between the 1840s and 1860s. Churches were built, the population increased, and some 13 hotels were operating to serve both the locals and the passing trade.
Hopes for Berrima’s continued prosperity were thwarted when the Southern Railway bypassed Berrima, stopping instead at Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bowral. As traffic decreased and inns were forced to close down, only the Surveyor General Inn stayed in business. The population had more than halved by the early 1900s.
The rebuilding and development that was undertaken in many towns in the mid 1900s did not occur in Berrima and the town remained virtually unchanged for the next hundred years. In the 1960s the National Trust of Australia (NSW) took steps toward protecting a number of properties in the area. The sensitive restoration and adaptive reuse of many buildings in the area has seen the popularity of Berrima as a cultural tourist destination increase.
A photographic record of my visit to Berrima, NSW
Berrima is significant as it is a rare example of a largely intact Australian Georgian colonial town. Consequently, restrictions have been placed on developing Berrima so as to avoid any loss of the heritage attributes that reflect the original 19th century town, and to protect the resulting cultural tourism.
An interesting c.1996 development in Jellore Street is The Bell Gallery. The gallery and its attached dwelling toward the rear have been designed so that from the outside they do not detract from the significance of the historic setting.
Entering the mock Georgian style building through a traditional, albeit large residential front door, one expects to find a typical floor plan of rooms feeding off a central hallway, however there are no small rooms to be found; there is just one large open gallery space. The trussed roof structure is exposed and three dormer windows and spot lighting create a surprisingly lovely gallery space.
The resident artist is Peter Browne whose paintings are bound to put a smile on your face; they are vibrant, quirky and depict Australian farm and rural life. This is a must see when in Berrima; make sure you read the titles of each painting and be sure to ask for a business card, it’s the magic question that earned me a little sketch; above.
Dictionary of Sydney, Office of Environment & Heritage – State Heritage Inventory, Wingecarribee Shire Council website.
Historical images courtesy of the State Library of NSW and the Berrima District Historical & Family History Society Inc.