The cemetery at Braidwood is in two parts – the ‘old’ and ‘new’. The new part is a modern ‘lawn’ style cemetery, much as you will see anywhere, but the old part is well worth a visit if you have some time to poke around the town.
Not surprisingly, the cemetery dates from the early days of Braidwood (photo 2) and there are some interesting headstones. Probably the most interesting, for the story behind it, is that of the four ‘special constables’, who met their end trying to apprehend the Clarke Brothers bushranging gang in 1869 (main photo).
The NSW Government had placed a bounty on the heads of Tom and John Clarke, declaring them outlaws following the killing of the policeman at Nerrigundah. That led to four adventurers (who we would now call bountyhunters) being accredited by the Government as ‘Special Constables’ with powers to do whatever seemed necessary. The Special Constables rode to the district and purported to be surveyors, setting up their camp near the family home of the Clarke brothers. Needless to say, nobody was taken in by the ruse, and not long afterwards their camp was shot up (without any injuries to anyone).
A little later, the intrepid four headed into the hills some 60km south of Braidwood at Jinden. They stayed at a homestead overnight, then started walking in to where they intended to ambush the Clarkes at their hideaway. Somehow the plan came unstuck and instead the four Special Constables were killed in an ambush. When it was realised what had happened, the four Specials were given a bush burial near where they were murdered. After a public outcry, their remains were brought to Braidwood for a more fitting burial, with a large funeral setting out from St Bedes (separate tip).
I have now added a travelogue on the bushrangers to this Braidwood page.
Braidwood sent many young lads to the trenches of W W 1, as did towns and cities throughout Australia. Similarly, like almost every country town, it subsequently built a War Memorial to honour the fallen.
Several years ago when the National Museum of Australia was being established, the curators chose Braidwood's War Memorial as most typifying those around the country. They then gained permission to take it down and have a casting made, which now is in the National Museum.
So visit Braidwood's War Memorial and see "the real thing" to which, sadly, many more names have been added since 1918.
On the fourth weekend of November each year, Braidwood hosts a unique event called the "Hanging of the Quilts".
Quilting is a popular hobby for many people in the district (not just the ladies, even the local fire brigade do quilting in their spare time!). On this weekend, businesses up and down the town hang quilts on display on their facades. Even more quilts are displayed indoors in the National Theatre and in local churches.
This is a popular community event which is drawing increasing numbers of visitors as it becomes better known - so, if you are considering visiting to see it, book your accommodation early!
Addendum: The 2006 quilt display has now been held - from it, I have included many more photographs of quilts hanging from the old buildings in this travelogue.
The Braidwood Markets are held in the park on the last Saturday morning of each month.
Items on sale range from trees and shrubs to handmade craft items to foods and secondhand goods. It's also a good chance to just wander around and have a chat. Whenever we go along, we invariably meet people we know - and finish up spending more than intended! Even if you buy nothing though, there is no pressure: just wander around, browse, and relax.
In many parts of Wallace Street, Braidwood's main street, you will find these strange steel posts alongside the kerb. They are a relic of bygone days and are known as hitching posts. Sometimes you also will see them in western movies, because they were used to tie the bridle of your horse when you went to town. Braidwood is one of the few places where they survive, though they are rarely used now.
The Tourist Information Office is in the National Theatre, on the western side of Wallace Street. If you start there, you will be able to get plenty of information on the town and the district. In particular, you should get a copy of the town information sheet with a map and details of some of the main buildings - it is an excellent walking tour.
Apart from housing the Information Office, the National Theatre is used as a community hall and still screens movies from time to time. It is believed to be the oldest operating cinema in Australia.
One of the highlights of the building is the pressed metal facade. This was a relatively common form of building decoration in the late nineteenth century, particularly in the country areas.
Dominating the lower end of Wallace Street in Braidwood, you will see the substantial bulk of St Bede’s Roman Catholic Church. It was built from local granite in 1852 and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Braidwood. The interesting separate belltower alongside houses a substantial bell.
The church has been a centre of community life over the years. Probably the most famous funeral to leave here was that of the four Special Constables killed while looking for the Clarke Brothers bushranging gang in 1869 (separate tip).
Australia has no houses, or any other building, from before the 1800s. Even houses from the 1800s now are seen as having heritage value and, fortunately, Braidwood has quite a number from that period.
It’s easy to focus on the large houses of the great and famous, but most people lived in far more modest abodes. The main photo shows a row of impeccably kept former miners’ cottages, dating from the goldrush days (1851-52 onwards) when the town grew substantially. Whether they would originally have had the lace ironwork is debatable, but I suspect the unrestored house in photo 2 is probably pretty much as it was built.
Moving on a little further, in photo 3 we find these “terrace houses” from about the 1860s. . The “terrace house” style is normally found only in cities or somewhat larger towns, where it typically has plenty of iron lacework on the balconies.
At the ‘large’ end of the spectrum, ‘Tidmarsh’ in photo 4 has recently been renovated to the external appearance in 1862, when it was used as police barracks. It was built in 1856 as an inn for the first Clerk of the Court. One of the main points of interest is the shingle roof – replacing these is almost a lost skill, though this was the most common roofing before the arrival of that ubiquitous Australian material, galvanised iron!
As you enter Braidwood on the main road from the north, you turn right into the main street, Wallace Street, then ascend a rise into the town. Before the crest of the hill, on your right you will see the pink walls of the Braidwood Hotel. Built in 1859, it is Braidwood’s oldest hotel and was known as the ‘Commercial Hotel’ until 2004.
The present owner, a former architect, has put in a huge amount of work for over twenty years and still continuing, to restore it as near as possible to its original condition. To the horror of many, the wide (but later) double-storey verandahs with extensive lace iron work were removed, replaced with just a single verandah and timber railings. The original colours have been recreated from paint chips and the iron roofing has been replaced with shingles, as original. An example of changing times: the shingle roof required special exemption from the current fire regulations. Despite the magnitude of the works, the pub has remained open throughout the process! Drop in for a beer and ask about it, I’m sure the owners would be happy to add far more detail.
My intro page for Braidwood features a photo of this hotel earlier in the restoration.
Braidwood has more operating churches (3) than pubs (only 2 of those), which may show what a God-fearing community this is! What are the odds though, that two of those churches will be named St Andrew’s? St Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland, so it’s common to find Presbyterian churches carrying his name. Equally, it’s uncommon to find a Church of England named after Scotland’s preferred saint – but yes, that’s the name for both in Braidwood: though the Presbyterian church is now “Uniting” and the Church of England is now “Anglican”. I hope that much now is reasonably clear!
You’ll find the Anglican St Andrew’s, built of local granite, in Elrington St (main photo and photo 2). It dates from the 1890s. Inside are some superb stained glass windows (photo 3) and a pipe organ which reputedly is excellent.
As befits the style expected of a Presbyterian church, the St Andrew’s Uniting church is somewhat more modest and dates from 1861. This painted brick building is on the corner of Duncan and Monkittee Sts (photo 4).
Located beside the Court House is the Braidwood Post Office, looking very spic and span in a coat of paint.
It was built in 1865 as a Telegraph Office, with the Post office moving here in the 1890's. The Post master's residence is next door.
The Courthouse was one of the 1st buildings to be built in 1837, the one that I saw was built in the 1900's. It was seen as an essential building to implement law & order. A nice looking old building.
ST. ANDREW'S ANGLICAN CHURCH
Built between 1856 and 1862.
I thought this church was beautiful, even though I did not get a chance to go inside. It is built of local granite and features gargoyles and a tower.
Of historic reference it is noted that several early photographic records of Braidwood were taken from it.
If you do get a chance to go inside, the brochure says there are "magnificent stained glass windows and elaborate plaques to commemorate pioneer families, and there's a pipe organ."
LOCATION........Elrington Street, Braidwood.
ST. BEDE'S CATHOLIC CHURCH
Also built of local granite between 1856 & 1863, I did manage to visit inside this one.
The stained windows were beautiful, with one of them being Saint Mary Mckillop.
LOCATED the corner of Lascelles & Wallace streets, Braidwood
Braidwood was a town that I spent about 2 hours walking around, there were so many interesting buildings here.
To see the sights of this Town, I had already picked up a walking map from a previous Tourist Information centre, but I did see an Info centre located in the main street if you want to pick up one here.
The map is extremely well done, has the locations numbered and information on each, this made the walk all the more interesting. I missed a few places, but saw the majority. It is an easy grade, and you can do it as a circle tour.
So, put on you walking shoes, and off you go!............WALKING BRAIDWOOD
I have listed some that I saw, but what else I liked, was the delightful early heritage Cottages & Houses, the old verandahs in the Main Street, the gardens, and some more buildings I haven’t listed.
It is quite a busy country town, with lots of Tourist’s strolling around.
The 'Pink" building in my photo is the Braidwood Hotel, which was built in 1859 and is the oldest still licensed Hotel in Braidwood.
Accommodation is available in what was one of the grandest Hotels in its era. Evidently, there is a magnificent Ballroom inside.
The Museum, was not open when I walked by. The building is made out of local granite, and was originally the Royal Hotel.
In 1882, it was purchased by the Oddfellows friendly society, and then in 1970, the Historical society aquired it. It was then that it became the Braidwood Historical Museum.
OPEN.....Friday to Monday 11am-2.30pm
186 Wallace Street,
Admission in 2009 $5.00 adults $1.00 children