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Historic goldmining town with a large number of
The town of Braidwood is located 279 km south of Sydney via
the Hume Highway, 109 km east of Canberra and 60 km west of
Batemans Bay. It is 650 m above sea level. Prior to European
settlement, the area was occupied by the Walbunja Aborigines
who spoke the Yuin language. The first Europeans into the
area were William Kearns, William Packer and Henry Marsh who
travelled through the district in the summer of 1822. They
described the land as suitable for settlement and in the
next two years a number of people moved into the district.
Of these people the most important, as far as the town's
name is concerned, was Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a surgeon
who had been granted land in the area. When the site for the
future township was chosen in 1833 part of Wilson's
'Braidwood' farm was resumed by the Government and
consequently the town was named after the farm which, in
turn, was named after Wilson. It was surveyed in 1839 and
the first land sales took place in 1840.
During the 1830s Braidwood and the Braidwood district
flourished as sheep, cattle and horses grazed on the rich
grasslands. By 1841 there were some 1500 people living in
the district and Braidwood farm had a population of 127.
The town grew dramatically with the discovery of gold in
the Braidwood-Araluen district in 1851-52. The excitement
attached to the discovery of this gold is well captured in
the book 'Moruya ... The First 150 Years': 'Alexander
Waddell and Harry ('the Blacksmith') Hicken, both settlers
along the Deua River, had rushed off to the gold strike at
Ophir. There they learned the 'Diggers' Cradle' method of
gold recovery used by the Lister brothers, and soon realised
that the same type of terrain existed in their own valley at
'They returned and set up a cradling outfit at Sweeney's
Flat, Kiora, following the same terrain up through the
Araluen Valley, and reported their finds late in 1851.
'It took only a few months for some fifteen thousand men
to come, hoping for a share of the wealth of the Araluen
Valley where Andrew Badgery had previously established a
'The influx of people had really begun. There was an
amazing expansion of trade, of people to help with food
supplies, of communication and just everyday needs. Land
development occurred from Narooma in the south into the
mountains in the west to Araluen and Nerrigundah, north to
Braidwood and across to Bateman's Bay'.
The largest gold discovery in Braidwood was a huge 350
pound (170 kg) piece which was 67 per cent pure gold and was
found at Braidwood in November 1869.
Inevitably the gold rushes brought with them the
bushrangers. The Braidwood area became one of the wildest
and the most infamous of all of the goldrush areas with both
the Clarke family and Ben Hall regularly holding up gold
consignments out of both Braidwood and Araluen. Braidwood
played a central role in the capturing of a number of
bushrangers because it was the administrative centre of the
southern goldfields of New South Wales and was the
headquarters of the New South Wales police force (Southern
Division) during the dubious reign of the Clarke gang.
Braidwood goal had been the scene of a daring escape by
the bushranger, Tom Clarke. It has been suggested that he
was assisted by a warder when on 3rd October 1865 he
clambered over the Braidwood goal walls and ran to a
racehorse which and been tethered nearby. He managed to
successfully escape and subsequently organised the Jingera
mob who became a well organised and well known gang of
bushrangers in the local area.The adventures of the Clarke
gang reached a high point in the late months of 1864 and
early 1865. Tom Clarke stuck up the Araluen mail and robbed
a number of travellers between Braidwood and Moruya in
January 1865. Out of the events immediately following this
robbery came the shooting of Constable Miles O'Grady of
Nerrigundah and perhaps most infamously the Jingera Range
murders of four special constables who had gone to try and
capture Tom Clarke. All these events are recorded in various
monuments around Braidwood. Eventually the Clarkes were
captured on the 27th April 1867 some miles south of Araluen.
Throughout the later half of the nineteenth century
Braidwood continued to prosper. This was the time when the
impressive police residences in the town were built and the
local Court House was constructed.
Today Braidwood is a charming historic township with a
large number of significant and important historic
Things to see:
Walking Around the Town
The first stop for everyone wanting to explore Braidwood is
the Museum located at the northern end of Wallace Street.
This Museum has excellent brochures and books on Braidwood
and the surrounding area. It provides detailed maps listing
as many as 25 historic buildings within the town's central
district. The best way to explore Braidwood's historic
buildings is to start on the corner of McKellar Street and
Wallace Street and proceed south to Lascelles Street then
head east to Elrington Street and complete the circuit by
coming up that street and back to McKellar Street.
The Former Council Chambers and AJS Bank
Located at 185 Wallace Street this sandstone and brick
building with its gabled roof was constructed in 1835. It
was used by the Australian Joint Stock Bank until the 1850s
and later became the Braidwood Council Chambers.
Braidwood Historical Society Museum
Located directly over the road from the AJS Bank, the
Historical Society Museum building was built by Surveyor
James Larmer in the 1840s. It was initially used as the
Royal Hotel. In 1870 it was sold to the local branch of the
Oddfellows and remained the towns Oddfellows Hall until the
1960s. It is now an integral part of the town's main street.
When it was originally built it must have dominated the
This handsome Victorian three-storey rendered brick building
is another dominant structure in Wallace Street. It is
characterised by impressive cast iron columns and decorative
lace work on the second-storey balcony. The original balcony
was roofless and had simple timber balustrades.
Police Residences and Police Station
Next door set in mature gardens are two red brick
single-storey police residences dating from around 1880.
They have hipped roofs of corrugated iron and their windows
are topped with flat brick arches.
Braidwood's first court house was constructed in 1837 by Dr
Wilson. This handsome Court House, built in 1900, is a
classic example of a Federation single-storey brick
building. It complements the nearby police residences and is
characterised by four Doric columns.
St. Bede's Roman Catholic Church
Built between 1856 and 1870 out of local granite this
impressive church is noted for its huge bell. It is claimed
by some parishioners that, under certain circumstances, the
bell can be heard at a distance of 15 km. It has been
suggested that the bell was intended for St Marys in Sydney
and somehow ended up in Braidwood. The church is located on
the corner of Wallace and Lascelles Streets.
|St Andrews Anglican
St. Andrew's Anglican Church
The town's other main church is St. Andrew's Church of
England located in Elrington Street one block away from the
main street. It was designed by Edmund Blacket, the man
responsible for the quadrangle at Sydney University. This
church is particularly interesting in that it is almost
certainly a combination of the creative efforts of Edmund
Blacket and his son Arthur Blacket.
In Search of Bushranger Memorabilia
Braidwood has a number of sites that worth investigating if
you are interested in the bushranging history of the area.
(a) The Braidwood cemetery is located at the southern end
of Wallace Street. In the cemetery is a large monument. This
monument commemorates the deaths of the four men killed by
the Clarkes at Jingera. The men were originally buried under
sheets of bark. This sparked a public outcry which led to
the bodies being reburied under this impressive monument.
(b) The ruins of the Braidwood goal can be seen at the
very northern end of Wallace Street once you have crossed
the Gillamatong Creek on the way to Goulburn and Canberra.
It was from this location that Thomas Clarke escaped in
Rainbow Valley Trout Farm and Game Farm
Rainbow Valley Trout Farm and Game Farm offers the chance to
catch rainbow trout. There are also water buffalos, red
deer, angora goats and emus, tractor and trailer rides, a
kiosk, and picnic-barbecue facilities. They are open from
9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, tel: (02) 4842 8040.
Deua National Park
The road to Araluen cuts across the northern end of Deua
National Park which adjoins the Wadbilliga Park to the
south. Together they cover 156 000 hectares, one of the
largest areas of natural land left in the eastern part of
the state. The Park consists of wet and dry sclerophyll
forests and patches of sub-tropical rainforest lining
spectacular mountain ranges dominated by Big Badja (1362 m)
and Mother Woila Mountain (1104 m). The park is also notable
for its limestone caves. The main attractions, Big Badja,
The Big Hole, Marble Arch and Wyanbene Caves are all found
along the western boundary of the park and are best arrived
at via the Braidwood-Kybeyan-Nimmitabel road. This can be
reached from the Moruya-Araluen Road or via Batemans Bay or
Braidwood. The Big Hole is a steep, 96-metre pit, probably
formed when sedimentary rocks caused underlying limestone
caves to collapse. Marble Arch is nearby and Wyanbene Caves,
9 km south, are popular with spelunkers because of their
limestone formations and the extent of the passages. The
park also contains Bendethra Caves. It has some excellent
bushcamping and bushwalking sites, especially along the Deua
River and Oulla Creek to the north-east and Woils Creek in
the south, but it has few facilities so come prepared.
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