Braidwood, NSW

Heritage for Everyone

Heritage for the Future

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Braidwood Background
Fact Sheet

Laughing Owl Productions




On March 30, 2006, Braidwood and its setting were officially listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. Planning Minister Frank Sartor made the announcement in Ryrie Park. "Braidwood is a rare surviving example of Georgian period town planning, dating from the 1830s," said Minister Sartor. "I am happy to list the town, which will guarantee that its unique character is retained. We have struck a balanced decision, to allow heritage to underpin the town's prosperity and to help the region's strong economic growth and dynamic communities."

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this important decision a reality.


Braidwood, NSW

Background Information

Braidwood, situated half-way between Canberra and the NSW South Coast, was established as a rural administration centre to service the large land grants taken up in the 1820s and 1830s as the infant Colony grew and there was pressure to find new grazing areas to provide food for the expanding population. A portion of Braidwood Farm, an extensive property belonging to philanthropist farmer Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson, was selected for the new town. A simple Georgian street design was arranged around a large village square, placed in front of a fine courthouse.

One of the most important features of Braidwood is the stunning and sharp delineation between the built and rural environments. This is a key element of the original Georgian-era plan, and it is uniquely preserved in Braidwood.

The distinctive visible boundary between the town and rural land was first identified as significant in heritage studies in the 1960s. Urban sprawl has obliterated this feature from nearly every other 19th century Australian town, leaving Braidwood the only place that one can see a Georgian NSW village in its original rural setting.

The town was classified by the National Trust of Australia in 1976 as a unique entity worth preserving – at a time when no State or Federal legislation existed to protect built heritage assets.

In 2002 the NSW Heritage Office proposed classifying Braidwood and its setting as an historic place on the State Heritage Register – the first time that a NSW town would be listed this way. Similar classifications have been made in the past two decades in most other States, but NSW has few such sites which have survived intact. Haberfield in Sydney has been classified as a heritage precinct under the same heritage legislation. Registering Braidwood would allow the town and its surrounds to be protected from inappropriate development by encouraging the Council and community to access better planning, and to follow “best practice” in designing new buildings in Braidwood.

State Heritage items are protected by law, enabling local planning rules to be enforced, a far better protection for the community than the current local Development Control Plan (DCP) and Local Environment Plan (LEP) documents which are effectively just guidelines. Heritage listing would not stop development but would encourage good and careful planning of developments which are sympathetic to the sensitive existing heritage landscape. Heritage listing would discourage large urban sprawls immediately adjoining the village, which would remove the rural outlook from the historic town.

Palerang Council was formed in 2004 by the amalgamation of Tallaganda Shire Council and Yarralumla Council. The Tallaganda Shire Council DCP and LEP date from the early 1990s and are based on earlier plans from the 1960s and 1970s. Tallaganda Council openly admitted that these plans were hopelessly outdated and obsolete and Council has been reviewing them for several years. Palerang Council was forced to adopt the existing DCP and LEP for Braidwood but, admitting the deficiencies, has developed a new draft DCP that addresses the significant oversights with regard to local town planning. This document however has not been released for public comment as yet, and in fact has been deliberately delayed. Until the new draft DCP is placed on public display the Council must adhere to the rules of the earlier document.

Braidwood’s location off the major Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne transport route has meant that little development occurred in the past 150 years. The town did not receive a rail link, and it is placed too far from Sydney to have been attractive for weekend homes until recently. The Southern Highlands towns of Berrima, Moss Vale, Bowral, Mittagong, Robertson, Sutton Forest and Bundanoon all saw major developments from about 1975, and in each case the previously intact villages have been swamped with large urban developments, nearly always to their detriment.

In Braidwood, 20th century development has been restricted to organic growth, mainly infilling vacant land within the village boundaries and built to meet specific requirements like soldier resettlement. Most of this type of development has occurred on the western side of the town, where it is less visible from the approaches and main street. There have been very few speculative housing developments involving large scale subdivisions. The organic growth, wealth of fine 19th century buildings, and rural setting have all contributed to make Braidwood an iconic historic rural village for visitors and there is a strong local economy based on tourism and history which supplements rural activities. The town has also attracted a very large arts community which has grown steadily since the 1950s and which includes painters, writers, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, textile artists, cabinetmakers and craftspeople.

Braidwood has been the setting for some of Australia’s definitive films including “Ned Kelly”, “The Year my Voice Broke”, “On Our Selection”, "Forty Thousand Horsemen", "Robbery Under Arms" and “Finding Joy”, and it’s intact state give it an unsurpassed potential for future film making. It hosts an impressive array of cultural festivals including “The Airing of the Quilts”, Heritage celebrations, Music festivals, Arts festivals and recently the “Two Fires” Festival celebrating the arts and activism of poet and writer Judith Wright, a long-time local resident.

For more information:



Andrew Einspruch: 0409 609 428
Antony Davies: 0438 126 987


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