Berrima Correctional Centre

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Not to be confused with Berrimah Prison.
Berrima Correctional Centre
Sandstone façade of the old Berrima gaol, constructed between 1863 and 1868 under the supervision of Mortimer Lewis
Location Berrima, New South Wales
Status Open
Capacity 75
Opened 1839
Managed by Corrective Services NSW[1]

Berrima Correctional Centre is an Australian prison, located at Berrima, New South Wales. The Centre was operational between 1839 and 2011 with a number of breaks in between, and was re-opened in September 2016. Initially established as Berrima Gaol, the facility closed in 1909 and reopened in 1949 as the Berrima Training Centre. At the time of its closure, the Centre was the oldest Australian correctional facility in operation.

Colonial history[edit]

Berrima Gaol was built of local sandstone between 1836 and 1839, with much work done by convicts in irons. Conditions at the gaol were harsh, prisoners spent most of their days in cells and the only light was through a small grate set in the door.[2]

Australia's first serial killer John Lynch was hanged here in 1842. another of the notable trials held in the nearby Berrima Court House was that of Lucretia Dunkley and her lover Martin Beech. Both were hanged in 1843 for the murder of Dunkley’s husband. Dunkley was the only woman hanged at Berrima Gaol.

In 1866 the Gaol was renovated to the standards described by the prison reform movement for a "model prison". However, Berrima Gaol had solitary confinement cells which measured 8 feet by 5 feet, some smaller, where it was intended that all prisoners spent one year. In 1877 a Royal Commission was held to investigate allegations of cruelty by the prison authorities, but the complaints were not upheld.

In 1898, a residence for the governor (or superintendent) of the jail was built next door to the gaol. In the 1930s it was used as a police station. A house for the deputy superintendent was built on the other side of the gaol.

Recent history[edit]

During World War I the army used Berrima Gaol German-prisoner internment camp. Most of the 329 internees were enemy aliens from shipping companies. There were German officers from Rabaul, German New Guinea (what is now Papua New Guinea) and also officers from the light cruiser SMS Emden[3][4]

Between 1970 and 2001, the Centre was classified as minimum/medium security for male inmates. Most inmates were permitted to work outside of the Centre on the local market gardens managed by Corrective Services NSW. Some detainees were permitted to maintain local parks and gardens and also assist with duties in the community such as fighting fires with the local firefighters.

In 2001 the Centre changed its name to Berrima Correctional Centre and, after one hundred and sixty six years as a men's prison, the Centre became a woman's prison, with a capacity of fifty-nine inmates.

Immediately prior to its closure in 2011, the Centre was an all-female low-to-medium-security prison,[5][1] and was responsible for the administration of a periodic detention centre and court cells at Wollongong. In the 2011 NSW State Budget, the Government announced that the centre would be closed, which took effect on 4 November 2011.[6]

The Centre was re-opened on 27 September 2016 as part of a statewide initiative to add 1400 beds to the New South Wales prison population. It is expected to house 75 minimum security prisoners.[7]

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Correctional facilities in New South Wales: Berrima". Australian Institute of Criminology. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Traveller: Berrima". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Berrima DADG banner, c. 1916 at NSW Government Migration Heritage Centre
  4. ^ Berrima Concentration Camp, World War I Documents and images at National Library of Australia
  5. ^ Appel, Gred (2003). "Berrima Gaol From The Inside Out". Street Stories. Australia: ABC Radio National. Retrieved 30 January 2006. 
  6. ^ O'Malley, Nick (22 October 2011). "Historic Berrima jail has finally served its time". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "NSW prisons to see 1,400 extra beds, old jails re-opened". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 

Coordinates: 34°29′15″S 150°20′08″E / 34.48748°S 150.33545°E / -34.48748; 150.33545