Burrawang is a secluded and tranquil village within 20 kms of beautiful Bowral in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. With a permanent population of around 300, Burrawang is truly an Aussie village. A number of the cottages and churches in the area date back to colonial times.
The village of Burrawang is situated high on a hill midway between two spectacular reservoirs, the Wingecarribee and the Fitzroy. We are 750m above sea level; so you might need to rug up in winter. But, whatever the weather, Burrawang attracts tourists, fresh air lovers, bushwalkers and picnickers all year round.
At the time of white settlement in NSW, the Wadi Wadi tribe of Aborigines occupied the Burrawang (Yarrawa) area. The British naval surgeon Charles Throsby (1777 to 1828) became a settler in the colony in 1802 at the age of 31 and, from 1804, served in the colonial medical establishment in the Newcastle area until 1809.
Throsby displayed that early pioneering spirit of versatility as he also became an explorer, grazier and later legislator. He, along with his 58 year old assistant Joseph Wild were mapping what is now known as the Moss Vale and Sutton Forest area and were commissioned to find an overland route from there to Jervis Bay as well as to plan and oversee the construction of a road to Goulburn Plains.
Throsby became the first landowner in what is now the Southern Highlands area in 1819 developing a cattle station which is now a museum open for public inspection called Throsby Park just off the Illawarra Highway in Moss Vale. This extremely capable pioneer became a member of the Legislative Council in 1825.
Wild in comparison was illiterate but a natural bushman and intrepid explorer until, at the age of eighty-eight while trekking through the Wingecarribee swamp – part of which still remains at the head waters of what is now Wingecarribee Reservoir – he was killed by a wild bull.
Surveyor Robert Hoddle and a gang of convicts cut a bridle path down the escarpment in 1830 as part of a track joining Cowpastures (Camden) to Kiama and Gerringong.
Sometime during this era the natural attributes of the Yarrawa Brush region came to their attention with its exotic rain forest and rich volcanic soil. This later became public knowledge and in 1859 the first land grant was issued in what is now the pretty hamlet of Wildes Meadow (a derivative of the name Wild’s meadow). Among the earliest of settlers there was John and Elizabeth McGrath, presumably giving their name to McGraths Road now leading into Burrawang.
In 1865 the first post office was established at Burrawang, which was named after the native palm once plentiful in the area. This was followed by the first pub licensed in 1866, believed to have been located in the two residences immediately west of the current pub. Shortly thereafter came the first school, originally an Anglican establishment, which in 1876 was replaced by the first public school at the ‘Old School House’ (now a private residence).
In what is now Church Street the three churches were established around this time; Catholic 1875, Anglican 1886 and Presbyterian in 1888 (now a residential dwelling).
Major industries at the time included dairying, potatoes, vegies plus flour and timber milling. Burrawang also had a newspaper; the Burrawang Herald and the hall boasted an active social calendar including an annual ball.
Burrawang remained the major development in the Yarrawa Brush for some years but Robertson took over sometime in the late 1880s with the advent of a more direct road to Moss Vale the neighbouring development of Robertson started to overtake as the key settlement in the region. Once Macquarie Pass was opened in 1898, Burrawang became somewhat isolated.
Gratefully much of the buildings and quaint character of the old village remain today providing a living 19th Century time capsule for residents and visitors alike… it‘s a bit of our heritage.
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