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Burrawang - a farming hub
The town of Burrawang began to boom with
the new Land Acts initiated by the NSW politician,
Sir John Robertson.
These Land Acts were designed to give smaller
farmers more of a chance against the big squatters
who were then using techniques known as
"dummying" and "peacocking" to grab the best land
and squeeze the smaller settlers out.
Indeed settlers around neighbouring Robertson
were so grateful they named their town after him.
Robertson was the 'government town' with a
carefully laid out grid of streets, whereas Burrawang as
a private village was more haphazard- yet many would
say more quaint- in its development.
While Robertson became the centre for local
government services, Burrawang developed as a hub
for the farming community, with cabbages, potatoes
and dairying being most prolific.
A quiet and rather English rivalry between
Burrawang and Robertson (or, as we like to call it,
"East Burrawang") has been going on ever since.
Burrawang once boasted its own printing works and
newspaper, hotels, post office, bank, butcher, baker,
sawmill, flour mill, a small abattoir, a community hall, three
Churches, a blacksmith, a saddlery, a school of over 100
pupils and as cars arrived, a service station and garage.
The old E.S.& A. bank of 1882, with its slate roof,
still stands opposite the hotel and is now a private
residence. Its real-estate advert was fairly unique in
offering a "walk-in safe!"
Several schools sprang up around Burrawang, but
after a fair bit of inter-denominational rivalry and poor
reports from inspectors (the Anglican school was
accused of fostering "loose habits" amongst its pupils),
a state-run school was established in 1878.
The original schoolhouse still stands at the
corner of Church and Hoddle Streets, across the road
from the current primary school, built in 1971 after
considerably less friction.
Archibald Booth, the first teacher was accused by
some parents of being "a lunatic," locking out late
pupils and caning a 16 year old girl for failing to answer
a question correctly and in order "to show her her
After the hotel, the biggest building in Burrawang is
the School of Arts, which is the only community hall in the
Southern Highlands actually owned by the village itself.
Originally built by the Oddfellows in the 1880's, it
was later bought by the School of Arts for 80 pounds.
Additions were made in the early 20th century (the
left and right halls) and with the pub, the hall has
become a centre of village social life.
Over the years it has supported a library- with a paid
librarian- regular community dances (Alan Ford and
David Scarlett's band will forever be remembered in
association with these) a huge range of social
functions, dance, drama and painting classes, theatrical
and musical presentations, weddings, funerals and even
a local "Ethiopian Troupe" in the 1800's.
The demography of Burrawang has changed
dramatically over recent years. It is no longer a farming
town, but rather a haven for retirees escaping the big city.
After some initial wariness by the 'old locals', a
number of these newcomers threw themselves into
voluntary help for the village, including a tremendous
amount of development of the School of Arts, helping
with refurbishment of Scarlett's store, organising balls,
concerts, the famous Burrawang Easter Fair and
numerous other functions, work with the Progress
Association, Landcare group, Ladies' Hospital Auxiliary,
the local Bushfire Brigade, the Burrawang Park
Committee, Fishing Club, sporting clubs or a host of
other local groups.
We even have a generous benefactor who
continued the tradition of donating for the good of the
The architecture in Burrawang has stayed pretty
much that of a colonial country town, especially in the
main street, which is protected by a Heritage Order.
Quite a number of buildings dating back to the second
half or the 1800's remain intact.
Once, big houses were built for large families.
"Carnatressy", a two story house built in the 1860's,
hosted the large families of two brothers and then took
boarders as well; at one stage being home to 16
people. 25 years ago my wife and I bought it from a
family that had been here since the early 1900's.
Built by William Barrett who owned the timber mill
and had access to the best hardwoods and cedars from
the Kangaroo valley, it's hardly surprising that like
Burrawang itself, it has aged most gracefully.
Answer to question in March issue;
The Burrawang and Robertson Farmers Club
only ever met on nights of a full moon because
that allowed them to see the road when riding
their horses to and from meetings!
WORDS BRUCE MUMFORD IMAGES LOUISE MUMFORD
The old English, Scottish
and Australian Bank.
Day There isn't a day of the year that Mother's aren't special.
Mother's Day is a time to pamper and to give thanks for all
she has done for us over the years.
To assist our readers with the right gift to choose, the Highlands
Post and Southern Highland News are publishing a special feature
on Wednesday, 25th April and Thursday, 3rd May.
We'll take a close look at gift suggestions available.
Don't miss this outstanding advertising opportunity! Book now by
calling your friendly sales representative on (02) 4861 2333.
MONDAY 13TH MAY 2012
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