Street of Berwick
Berwick (including Harkaway, Narre Warren,
Hallam, Doveton and Beaconsfield)
Attractive village with a decidedly English
Berwick is a former township located on a hill
45 km south-east of the Melbourne CBD. It was
later declared a city but has recently been
incorporated into the City of Casey which
includes Berwick, Harkaway, Narre Warren,
Hallam, Doveton, Endeavour Hills, Lysterfield
South, Hampton Park, Lyndhurst, Cranbourne,
Clyde, Devon Meadows, Pearcedale, Cannons Creek,
Warneet, Blind Bight and Tooradin. Although it
has experienced fairly rapid development in
recent years Berwick, with its old-fashioned
library building, prim gardens and distinctive
boulevarde, retains something of its
19th-century English village feel.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area
was occupied by the Bunurong people who were
soon displaced. They held their last corroborees
in the area c.1858.
One of the first white landholders in the
district was a Captain Robert Gardiner who
probably sailed from Westernport Bay up Cardinia
Creek. There he found good pasturage and, in
about 1837, took up much of the land on which
the township of Berwick would later develop. He
appointed Terence O'Connor as his
superintendent. O'Connor brought the district's
first sheep over from Tasmania and grazed them
on the future townsite and took up residence on
Gardiner's property which was named 'Berwick'
after Gardiner's birthplace of Berwick-on-Tweed
in the north of England. The area was initially
known as Cardinia Creek which was an adaptation
of the Aboriginal name for the waterway - 'Kar-Din-Yarr'
- which means 'looking at the rising sun'.
In 1841 a perceived lawlessness in the
district - on the part of both whites and
Aborigines - led to the establishment of a
native police force barracks. It was located to
the west of what is now the suburb of Narre
In the 1840s Gardiner, with a government
subsidy, established a lookout on Mt Misery, at
what is now Beaconsfield, in order to keep watch
for ships which mistakenly entered Westernport
Bay, thinking it to be Port Phillip Bay. At the
time Berwick was the eastern border of the Port
Phillip District (as distinct from the Gippsland
district further east). A regular overland mail
service from Melbourne to Gippsland was
established in 1848.
A small community, with little claim to
occupancy, developed on the eastern side of
Berwick Hill. Surveys were conducted in the
1850s when the original land leases expired and
the government set aside some of Gardiner's run
as a townsite which was initially known as 'The
Reserve'. The first land sales took place in
January 1854 . At the time it was heavily
With the arrival of the freehold era the
large sheep and cattle stations were broken up,
properties were improved and farming began to
emerge. The heavy black volcanic soil was
particularly suited to potatoes, barley and
wheat and a stream-threshing machine and flour
mill were erected on the townsite in 1858. In
fact, the state's oldest agricultural society -
the Port Phillip Farmers' Society - was founded
in 1848 and one of its branches (the Mornington
Farmers' Society) centred on Berwick. A
bluestone quarry, established on the Wilsons'
property at Berwick in 1859, provided steady
local employment until it closed in 1918. Basalt
from the quarry was used for roadmaking in
Gippsland. Dairying and cheese-making emerged in
A store opened in the area in 1855 although
the first store on the actual townsite appears
to have been established in 1857 or 1859. It
doubled as a post office. A blacksmith's was set
up in 1857, as was the first Presbyterian
Church. A wheelwright's shop and school were
also opened in the late 1850s. The latter was
situated within a wattle-and-daub shepherd's
hut, built for usage on Captain Gardiner's run.
A new school was built in 1861.
The Border Hotel (still standing) was
licensed at Berwick in 1857 to Robert Bain who
also owned the store/post office. He donated the
land on which the shire hall was later built.
The Eumemmering Hotel had been established by
1851 on the Eumemmering run which was later
subdivided into residential blocks. Part of it
is now the suburb of Doveton. The Mornington
Hotel opened in 1855 at what is now Narre
Warren. The name derives from the Aboriginal
term 'Narree Nareen' meaning 'small hills' - a
reference to the fact that this land lies in the
foothills of the Dandenong Ranges.
The Gippsland Hotel (now the Central Hotel)
opened at Beaconsfield in the early 1850s. The
owners had a track cut from here through to the
new goldfield at Woods Point (see entry on
Jamieson) in the early 1860s, thus facilitating
access to the new diggings and, of course,
encouraging custom at the hotel. They received
compensation when the government cut a new track
to Woods Point via the Launching Point (see
entry on Yarra Junction). Prince Alfred, Duke of
Edinburgh, stayed at the Gippsland Hotel in 1869
during a royal visit.
Berwick was proclaimed a town in 1861. Local
government commenced the following year with the
formation of the Berwick Road Board. Meetings
were held at the Border Hotel until an office
was built at the top of Berwick Hill in 1865.
In 1862 a mechanics' institute cum library
was built and a second general store was
established. A recreation reserve for cricket
and other purposes was set aside in 1863. Other
tradesmen began to set up shop in the new town
and the first local police court was held at the
Border Hotel in 1865. The first licensed stage
coach service from Melbourne to Sale in
Gippsland began that same year. In 1868 the
Shire of Berwick was proclaimed and a policeman
was stationed at Berwick for the first time. A
state school and a Catholic Church were
constructed in 1870, a Church of Christ in 1874,
an Anglican Church in 1876 and a Methodist
Church in 1886, although the latter was soon
removed to Dandenong.
At Harkaway, just north of Berwick proper,
the higher ground (a natural watershed between
the Port Phillip and Westernport basins) was
settled largely by German immigrants and a
Lutheran church was built in 1869. It is
suggested that bushranger Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan
was employed on a property at Harkaway before
attacking his employee's wife with a knife and
fleeing in 1861.
The railway to Berwick opened in 1877, ending
the coach-service era, but greatly facilitating
the marketing of local produce and hence the
growth of the area. Other proximate localities
which benefited from the establishment of local
railway stations were Beaconsfield (allegedly
named after British prime minister Benjamin
Disraeli whose title was the Earl of
Beaconsfield) and Narre Warren. Both
Beaconsfield and Upper Beaconsfield became
popular holiday resorts after the arrival of the
railways. Gold had been discovered at Upper
Beaconsfield in the 1870s but returns were
slight and the diggings soon abandoned.
In 1890 the population of Berwick was 636.
Oats, peas, beans, potatoes, hay and introduced
grasses were cultivated in the shire. Tea, hops
and wine grapes were all briefly grown in the
late 19th century. After World War I heavy
industry moved into the area, particularly at
Doveton where a lace and handkerchief factory
opened in 1950, an International Harvester
Company plant in 1952 and, in 1955, a General
Motors car plant and the H.J. Heinz factory. The
suburb was created by the Housing Commission in
the 1950s to provide low-cost housing for the
In January 1959 the farm scenes for the
Hollywood film 'On the Beach' were shot on the
Wilson's property. 230 personnel were involved
including Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred
Astaire, Anthony Perkins, Donna Anderson, Lou
Perkins and producer Stanley Kramer.
Berwick was declared a city in 1973 with a
view to becoming a satellite to Melbourne. It
has recently been incorporated into the larger
City of Casey.
Things to see:
The Berwick Inn
The Berwick Inn, at the corner of High St and
Lyall Rd, was licensed at Berwick in 1857 as the
Border Hotel. The original one-storey section is
now the bar. The two-storey section was added in
1877 as the railway approached. The western
section was built later in the century. The
first licensee was Robert Bain who owned the
town's first store/post office and donated the
land on which the shire hall was later built.
The Border Hotel was an important local
centre in the early days. Aside from being the
first pub on the townsite it was also a stopping
place for coaches en route to Gippsland. Bain
was the first secretary of the Berwick Roads
Board (the first form of local government) and
its initial meetings were held at the hotel from
1862 to 1865. The first local police court was
held at the hotel in 1865 and it also served as
a licensing court.
Also in High St is the Berwick Mechanics
Institute and Free Library, built in 1862 at the
corner of Peel and Edward Streets. In return for
a nominal rent Robert Bain agreed, in 1878, to
lease a block of his land to the library for 500
years, so long as a library remained on the
property for that period. In 1880 it was moved
to its present site and extended the following
Former Post Office
At the corner of High St and Gloucester Avenue
is the former post office, built in 1884-85. It
is now in private hands. The first Berwick post
office was established in the general store in
the late 1850s.
St Margaret's School
St Margaret's is an attractive school located on
a tree-clad slope in Gloucester Avenue. The
cluster of buildings includes 'The Cottage',
built in 1878 and the home of MLA B.B. Pearson,
built in 1911. The school was established in
1920 as the Berwick Presbyterian Girls' School.
It was amalgamated with St Margaret's Girls'
School at Toorak in 1930 but is now
coeducational. Nearby is 'Edrington', the former
home of Lord and Lady Casey, both being among
the school's benefactors.
Former Rechabite Hall
The former Rechabite Hall, just up the hill from
the old post office, in High St, was built in
1886. It later served as an RSL Hall.
Former Church of Christ
On the south side of High St, above the old post
office, is the former Church of Christ building,
erected in 1886. The church made inroads at
Berwick when a peripatetic evangelist stopped
there for shoe repairs, en route to Pakenham,
and began preaching to a crowd. Initially,
services were held in the homes of residents. A
wooden chapel was built in Peel St in 1874 but
it proved inadequate.
On High St, at the top of the hill, is the
former Presbyterian Church. It was built in the
1880s to replace the 1857 original. The fact
that the Presbyterians were the first to
establish themselves at Berwick reflects the
Scottish origins of many of the early settlers.
There is a back entrance from 48 Wilson St.
The Old Cheese Factory Complex
The old cheese factory is a two-storey structure
built of hand-made local bricks in the 1860s.
The construction style is unique in the
district. Built at the same time as the factory
are the homestead and the kitchen/wash-house.
The factory is now an art gallery and the
kitchen is a craft shop. There is a fine 2-ha
English garden with lawns, a formal herb garden,
shady trees, an ornamental pond and historic
displays. A cafe is due to open on-site later in
the year 2000. Special events are held
throughout the year, including jazz
performances, a Mothers' Day Heritage Garden
Picnic and pantomimes in the school holidays.
'The complex is located at 34 Homestead Rd
which runs off the Berwick-Cranbourne Rd just
south of the freeway. It is to the right on the
first rise. It is open weekdays from 9.00 a.m.
to 5.00 p.m. and weekends from 10.00 a.m. to
5.00 p.m. There is an admission fee, tel: (03)
Kerry Anne's Akoonah Park Gallery
This gallery is located at 1 Cardinia St at
Berwick, tel: (03) 9707 4561.
Wilson Botanic Park
Wilson Botanic Park covers 36 ha. Walking paths
meander through some exceptional terrain
including cliffs, gorges, valleys, lakes and a
North-American-style marsh. There is plenty of
birdlife about and some endangered plant
species. There are picnic areas, toilets, a
playground and barbecues. The park is open daily
from 7.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. with hours extended
to 8.00 p.m. during daylight savings. It is
closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday, tel:
(03) 9707 5818. Admission is free. To access the
park take the signposted turnoff from the old
Princes Highway between Berwick and Narre
Warren, adjacent the Berwick Retirement Centre.
Campbelltown Miniature Railway
This miniature steam and diesel railway offers
pleasure rides through the countryside. It is
located at 434 Belgrave-Hallam Rd at Narre
Warren North and is open Sundays and public
holidays and Wednesdays during school holidays,
or by arrangement. Fees are charged per ride,
tel: (03) 9796 8481.
The Melbourne Tank Museum
Nearby, at 456 Belgrave-Hallam Rd, is the
Melbourne Tank Museum which features an
undercover, hands-on display of tanks, armoured
personnel carriers, guns, scout cars, jeeps and
trucks. There are picnic and barbecue facilities
and a coffee shop. It is open Sundays from 11.00
a.m. to 5.00 p.m. There is an admission fee,
tel: (03) 9796 8216 or (03) 9796 8188.
Narre Warren East
Duffys Picnic Area is located on Duffys Road at
Narre Warren East. It is a recreational area
offering excellent views of Cardinia Dam and the
surrounding area. There are picnic, barbecue and
There are a number of walking tracks at
Crystal Brook Picnic Area, on Cardinia Creek Rd
at Narre Warren East. There are picnic areas,
parking facilities and toilets. Both are open
weekdays from 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. with
closing time extended to 5.00 p.m. on weekends
and public holidays, tel: 131 963.
Myuna is a 20-ha farm which offers visitors an
insight into farm life. There are animal and
milking displays, an animal nursery, train and
pony rides, walking and horseriding trails,
wetland areas and picnic and barbecue
facilities. It is located at 182 Kidds Rd,
Doveton, and is open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00
p.m. daily, tel: (03) 9706 9944.
Cardi Country Orchard
Cardi Country Orchard, in Payne Rd,
Beaconsfield, is a fruit farm specialising in
peaches and nectarines (in season) and apples
and pears all year round. It is open daily from
8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9707 1549.
Bunyip Byways Tourism Trail
The Bunyip Byways Tourism Trail is a self-drive
tour which takes visitors through a range of
attractions in the district, including historic
sites and homesteads, natural landmarks, antique
stores, golf courses and tea rooms. The trail is
delineated by over 300 roadside guidance signs.
It follows a circular route from Gembrook (see
entry on Emerald) to Tooradin). A guiding map
was printed but it is currently a little hard to
get although you can try your luck by ringing
the City of Casey, tel; (03) 9705 5200.
The Berwick Country Craft Markets are held on
the third Sunday of the month from 9.00 a.m. to
2.00 p.m. at the Berwick Leisure Centre, next to
Berwick High School in Manuka Rd. They are
considered one of the state's largest craft
markets. Special twilight markets are held on
the first Friday of November and December from
6.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9551 4083.