Berry, New South Wales

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New South Wales
Berry NSW.jpg
Berry township
Berry is located in New South Wales
Location in New South Wales
Coordinates 34°46′31″S 150°41′38″E / 34.77528°S 150.69389°E / -34.77528; 150.69389Coordinates: 34°46′31″S 150°41′38″E / 34.77528°S 150.69389°E / -34.77528; 150.69389
Population 2,667 (2016 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 2535
Location 143 km (89 mi) from Canberra
LGA(s) City of Shoalhaven
State electorate(s) Kiama
Federal Division(s) Gilmore

Berry is a small Australian village in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast in the state of New South Wales, located 145 km (90 mi) south of the state capital, Sydney. It has many historical buildings which are listed on the New South Wales Heritage Register.[2] Berry attracts many tourists who come to enjoy the diversity of landscapes, including coastal beaches, rich dairy farming, and forested mountains. The village hosts a local Produce Market which is held twice each month on the second Saturday and fourth Sunday. Berry acts as a gateway through to other towns and villages along the South Coast of NSW via the Princes Highway and the South Coast railway line.[3] There are several major highway building projects that are operating in and around Berry currently.[4][5]


Berry in 1896

The indigenous people of the area were the Wodi Wodi people, and the area was known as Boon-ga-ree. In the 1810s, George William Evans, Government Surveyor, reported on the Berry district as a possible settlement and on the good stands of red cedar. Subsequently, itinerant timber cutters visited to cut and send cedar to Sydney.

Alexander Berry, with his business partner Edward Wollstonecraft, pioneered European settlement in the Shoalhaven region from 1822, initially securing land grants to the south of the Shoalhaven River and later to the north (including the Berry district). The locality was known as Broughton Creek from its beginning in 1825 as a private town and part of a large pastoral holding called "Coolangatta". The first European settlers of this locality were seven free sawyers employed by Alexander Berry, who camped there in 1825. Soon after a tannery began operation. In the 1840s a saw mill powered by a water wheel started. By 1866, a very substantial town had grown on the either side of Broughton Creek. On the Pulman Street side a Post Office, school, tannery and store were established, while on the other side of the creek an Inn was opened. By this time the population had grown to 300 and the area was declared a Municipality.[6]

In 1873 Alexander Berry died and his brother David Berry became the owner of the estate. He encouraged the growth of the town by establishing an Agricultural Showground and giving land to four religious denominations to build churches in the town.

The name of the town was changed from Broughton Creek to Berry in 1889, following the death of David Berry, Alexander's brother, to honour the Berry family. After his death the outlying land of the Coolangatta Estate was gradually sold. The town continued to grow and flourish as a service centre for saw milling and dairying industries. From the 1980s, these industries have diminished, and tourism is now an important activity.

Geography and landmarks[edit]

The township of Berry lies on the South Coast railway line, and on the Princes Highway (Highway 1) between Nowra and Kiama. For much of its early history the town depended on timber cutting and dairy farming, with a tannery and boat building also present, but today, Berry thrives on tourism, with many souvenir shops, art galleries, antiques and collectibles shops, cafes, restaurants, and hotels. A local public hospital bequeathed by the Berry family, the David Berry Hospital, now serves as a rehabilitation hospital and palliative care hospice.

Population and culture[edit]

The population of Berry, 2,667 at the 2016 census,[1] forms a mainly urban rather than farming community, with an influx of city dwellers attracted to a rural lifestyle with ease of access back to the Sydney metropolitan area and its attractions ('sea changers' and 'tree changers'). Most dairy farms have been subdivided into 'hobby farms' of small acreages, and the town businesses have changed to meet needs of tourists and the expanding hospitality industry.

Berry is the first truly rural town south of Sydney, and is situated on a coastal plain bounded by the escarpment of the Great Dividing Range to the west, and the Tasman Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean, to the east. The township of Berry is surrounded by the districts of Toolijooa, Foxground and Broughton Village to the north, Harley Hill, Far Meadow, Jerry Bailey/Coolangatta and Back Forest to the east (with the beaches of Gerroa, Seven Mile Beach, and Shoalhaven Heads along the coast), Jaspers Brush and Meroo Meadow to the south, and Bundywallah, Bellawongerah, Cambewarra, Woodhill, Wattamolla, and the village of Kangaroo Valley are situated in the mountains to the west.

Village Vets[edit]

The Foxtel cable program Village Vets Australia is filmed in and around Berry.[7]


Some regular events that draw locals and tourists alike to Berry include: country markets on the first Sunday of the month; the Berry Agricultural & Horticultural Show on the first weekend in February; the Musicale festival held throughout May and June; and the Garden Festival in October. Berry is also home to the Berry Magpies rugby league team, part of the NSW Group 7 rugby league competition.

During the annual Berry Agricultural & Horticultural Show there is held the Annual Berry Showgirl Competition. This is an event where young women aged between 18 and 25 are judged on various attributes including personality, rural knowledge, presentation, communication and speaking skills, and local and international current affairs throughout a full day of judging. The judging panel consists of three judges selected by the Show Committee. Judging involves a sit down luncheon during the day which is attended by showgirl entrants and judges, followed by individual interviews, and then concluding that evening with a ball, or formal dance, where each entrant is required to give a speech. The winner is announced on the Saturday night of the annual show, in the center of the main oval, in front of the crowd. The winner then goes on to represent Berry at the Zone judging which encompasses towns from Milton to the Hawkesbury region. Zone winners then compete at the final stage, which is a weeks judging held at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It is important to note that this event, run by the Royal Agricultural Society, is not a beauty contest but rather a way of promoting and encouraging rural women.

Notable people[edit]

  • Alexander Berry (born 1781, d.1873): Scottish merchant and pastoralist who, with Edward Wollstonecraft, secured land grants in the Shoalhaven area in 1822 and 1830. Following further land purchases, what was known as the Coolangatta Estate totalled more than 16,000 hectares by 1863. Eventually, his tenure of the Coolangatta Estate was subject to severe criticism as a result of his arch-conservative views of society and the role of "men of property", and he received the moniker of the "Laird of Shoalhaven". He died without children, and his estate passed to his brother David Berry.[8]
  • David Berry (born 1795, d.1889): Agriculturalist. He emigrated from Scotland to New South Wales in 1836 and joined his brother Alexander Berry. He managed the Coolangatta Estate from 1836, initially utilising convict labour but later, from 1848, providing leaseholds to tenant farmers. By 1863 there were some three hundred tenants, occupying about 3,500 hectares of farmland. With the death of Alexander Berry in 1873, David Berry inherited the estate. Acknowledged as "large-hearted and generous", he introduced sharefarming, took a particular interest in the education of the children on the estate, including providing schools and undertaking much of the teaching himself, had many scientific interests (including experimenting with paddle wheel and screw propeller design) and engaged in manufacturing, including building farm machinery and the building of two steamers, Meeinderry and Coomonderry. Roads, wharves and a wide variety of buildings were constructed under his management. He was concerned for the welfare of local Aboriginals and sought to absorb them gradually into the life of the estate. He helped to develop an agricultural society among the increasing Shoalhaven tenantry, and one of his last acts was to provide uniforms and instruments for a local brass band. He died unmarried and without children. His will made large bequests: for the building of a local hospital; a bequest to the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales; and a bequest to the University of St Andrews. As a consequence, the Coolangatta Estate was broken up and land portions were sold off progressively.[9]
  • Broughton (c.1798, c.1850): Australian Aboriginal guide, tracker and constable, born at Boon-ga-ree (now Berry). His Aboriginal name was rendered as Toodwick, Toodood or Toodwit. He was a close relative (and probably brother) to Broger (see below). He was highly regarded by Alexander Berry. While he was probably given his European name after William Broughton (a colonial commissary and magistrate), it seems likely that many of the place names invoking "Broughton" in the Berry district, including Broughton Vale, Broughton Creek, Broughton Village and Broughton Mill Creek are, in fact, named after him.[10]
  • Broger (c.1800, d.1830): Australian Aborigine. He was executed for the murder of a European sawyer, although there is doubt regarding his conviction as the death may well have been a result of self-defence. Brogers Creek, a river and district near Berry, is named after him [11]
  • Hector Lamond (born 1865, d.1947): Politician, journalist, editor and newspaper proprietor. His initial political activities were Labour-oriented, and he stood unsuccessfully for the Federal seat of Lang as an Australian Labour Party candidate in 1913 and 1914. During World War 1, he strongly supported Prime Minister W.M. (Billy) Hughes' position on conscription, and he eventually won the Federal seat of Illawarra as a Nationalist candidate in May 1917. He was appointed Assistant Minister for Repatriation in December 1921, a position he held until he was defeated in the Federal election of December 1922. From 1923 he was owner and editor of four country New South Wales newspapers.[12]
  • Dorothy Cawood MM (born 1884, d.1962): Nurse, matron of the David Berry Hospital, 1928-1943. She served with the Australian Army Nursing Service during World War 1, including the Gallipoli campaign in the Dardanelles, France, Italy and England. She was awarded the Military Medal for her actions at the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Armentières in July 1917 when she rescued patients from a burning building after it was bombed by German aircraft.[13]
  • Dr John James (born 1887, d.1965): Medical practitioner and surgeon. Served as a medical officer in France during World War 1 and was mentioned in dispatches. Appointed medical superintendent of Canberra Hospital in 1926. The John James Memorial Hospital, Deakin ACT, is named in his honour.[14]
  • Jeff Carter (born 1928, d.2010): Australian author, filmmaker and photographer. His photojournalism concentrated on the unglamorous and unprivileged aspects of Australia, with a focus on the working lives and conditions of ordinary Australians.[15]
  • Bettie Fisher (born 1939, d.1976): Australian Aboriginal activist, singer and theatre administrator. Was a member of the Jirrinja people of Greenwell Point Mission. Remembered for her work as a blues and jazz singer, including in the 1960s when she appeared with Jimmy and Freddy Little in the first all-Black show to do the club rounds in New South Wales and Queensland. In 1974 she became administrator of the Black Theatre Arts and Cultural Centre in Redfern, Sydney. Just before her death, she participated in the establishment of an 'Aboriginal Embassy' in Mugga Way, Canberra[16]
  • Garry McDonald (born 1948): Actor, satirist and comedian, particularly known for his portrayal of the character "Norman Gunston", and later as "Arthur Beare" in the ABC sitcom Mother and Son;
  • Jennifer Robinson (born 1981): Rhodes Scholar and prominent human rights lawyer.[17][18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Berry (state suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 10 July 2017.  Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ New South Wales Heritage Register. Online reference
  3. ^ South Coast railway line, New South Wales
  4. ^ NSW Roads and Martime Services - Foxground to Berry bypass
  5. ^ Glen Humphries, in the Illawarra Mercury, March 21, 2014
  6. ^ Lidbetter, Mary 1984 "Historic Sites of Berry", pp. 5-6.
  7. ^ Village Vets Australia
  8. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Berry, Alexander". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  9. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Berry, David". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  10. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Broughton". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  11. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Broger". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  12. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  13. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Cawood, Dorothy Gwendolen". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  14. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: James, John Alexander". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  15. ^ Jeff Carter (photographer)
  16. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Bettie Fisher". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  17. ^ Jennifer Robinson (lawyer)
  18. ^ Justinian, October 21, 2011
  19. ^ Jennifer Robinson - A woman of influence

External links[edit]