Berwick Heritage Walk

For 60,000 years prior to settlement, the land that Berwick now occupies was the land of the Wurundjeri and the Bunurong. As with most Indigenous peoples of the world, Aboriginal cultural, ceremonial and spiritual life was dictated by the seasons through the availability of their sustainable natural resources. Areas of the Berwick region were used as camping and hunting grounds on an annual basis. Berwick is still visited by indigenous people seeking to understand the history of their ancestors.

Today, the landscape that the indigenous people utilized looks very different due to introduced land management practices and widespread, rapid development, however, Aboriginal people still play an active role in the protection, preservation and awareness of their culture, heritage and environment.

The first European settler in the Berwick area is generally regarded to be Terence O’Connor who took up the Cardinia Creek lease in 1838, while some sources however credit Captain Robert Gardiner as being the first European settler. Captain Gardiner called his run Berwick after his home town of Berwick upon Tweed in England and thus the surrounding district was also known as Berwick. Many settlers soon followed and the township of Berwick was surveyed by Robert Hoddle at around 1852. By the 1890’s the town was well established with a population of over six hundred. 

Development over the past thirty years has transformed the Berwick area, however the town still retains its village ambiance and its gracious past can still be seen in the many charming houses, shady tree-lined streets and public buildings that you will see on this walk.

Heritage Walk

This walking tour is designed to show you the well-known and not so well-known aspects of Berwick’s rich heritage. The walk takes you through the oldest streets in Berwick.
The walking tour was created by the City of Casey with support from the Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation. This walking tour is designed to highlight the well known and not so well known aspects of Berwick’s rich heritage and takes you through some of the oldest streets in Berwick. It includes the old site of the Berwick Grammar School, the Berwick Inn, Pioneers Park and the old Berwick Courthouse and Post Office.

Please note that the Berwick area is quite steep and many parts of the walk involve a moderate gradient or incline. The length of the walk is estimated to be approximately three kilometres. Car park areas are marked on the map for those who may choose to drive to certain points on the tour and then walk around the vicinity.

Please note that many of the historical sites included in this walk are private property.

Stop 1 : Pioneers Park, Cnr Lyall Road and Peel Street

Pioneers Park was officially opened in October 2005 on the site of the Old Berwick Primary school. The school building, which was built in 1869, is used by the Berwick - Pakenham Historical Society and the Casey Cardinia branch of the National Trust.

Cross the park to Brisbane Street

The house and garden at 15 Brisbane Street and “Caseldene” at 31 Brisbane Street are heritage listed.

Stop 2 : Burr Hill (3 Burr Hill Court)

A number of construction dates have been suggested for the building ranging from 1854 to 1863 to 1876. Burr Hill was owned by the Hon James Buchanan, MLC and his wife Anne (nee Wilson). The Buchanans and the Wilsons were early Berwick pioneers. The house was bequeathed to the Presbyterian Church in 1914 and was used as the Manse until 1941.

Note the heritage sites ‘Claremont’ at 64-70 Brisbane Street and 65-67 Brisbane Street (which is diagonally opposite the Berwick Grammar School site).

Stop 3 : Berwick Grammar School (76 Brisbane Street) and Church Street Avenue of Honour

The school (on the corner of Church Street) was conducted within a house (Mary Blackwood House) that was built in 1877 for Miss Adelaide Robinson. The architects were the Melbourne firm, Little and Beasley. Dr Edward Vieusseux, the next owner of the building, established the Berwick Grammar School in this building in 1882, where it ran until 1928.

The Avenue of Honour in Church Street was planted in 1919 to honour the nine students of the Berwick Grammar School who were killed in World War One. There is a small plaque in Church Street to commemorate the students.

Stop 4 : Old Christ Church, Anglican Church (8 Palmerston Street)

The Church of England owned all the land bordered by Peel, Church and Palmerston Streets. The Old Christ Church on the corner of Palmerston and Church Street was built in 1877, with the Vicarage at 1 Church Street being built in 1888. As you pass Scanlan Street you will see some magnificent oak trees which are part of the Avenue of Honour mentioned in Stop 8.

Continue along Church Street to Peel Street to the Princes Highway.

Other heritage places – ‘Dhuringa’ 59 Peel Street, 61 Peel Street and 1 Williamson Street (cnr Princes Highway)

Stop 5 : Avenue of Honour – Princes Highway

The Avenue of Honour comprises one hundred and twenty three hybrid black poplar trees which were planted in 1929 by Miss Ada Armytage, whose family owned Como house in South Yarra. The Avenue is in recognition of the Beaconsfield men who served in World War One.

A detour : Edrington

Looking towards the south you can see “Edrington”, the home of Lord and Lady Casey. Lord Casey was the Governor General of Australia from 1965-1969. It is now part of a retirement village.

Stop 6 : St Michael’s Catholic Church

The earliest Catholic Church in Berwick was constructed in the 1870’s . The red brick Neo-Gothic Church, now used by the Primary school, was built in 1937.

Stop 7 : St Andrews Uniting Church

This church (originally a Presbyterian Church) was built between 1879 and 1888.

The Architects, Reed Henderson and Smart, included a spire in the original plans but this was not built for financial reasons. The significant hill top site reflects the significance of the role of Presbyterians in the history of Berwick, including the Wilson and Buchanan families.

Return along the service lane and walk through the small park to Marygate Place.

Stop 8 : Terence O’Connor Reserve and Avenue of Honour

O’Connor Reserve is the highest point in the town and was the site of the water tower that dominated the town’s skyline until the late 1970’s.

Wilson and Scanlon Streets is the site of the third Avenue of Honour in Berwick.

Thirty five English Oaks and Pin Oaks were planted in 1918.

Heritage listed Sweeney House is located at 8-10 Scanlan Street (cnr Bain Street).

Continue down Wilson Street, turn left into Rutland Road.

Stop 9 : Inveresk (93 High Street)

This splendid house was built of local bricks and Welsh slate roof in 1891 for local draper George Brown. The architects were Little and Beasley, who also designed the Berwick Grammar School. The Australian Impressionist artist, Arthur Streeton, painted the Brown family at “Inveresk”.

Continue down High Street

Stop 10 : Searle’s Corner (High Street and Wheeler Street)

This intersection is known as Searle’s corner after Henry Searle who operated a blacksmiths shop on the eastern side of the site. Paternoster’s store was located where Eightyone Fine Food and Wine Restaurant now operates. Parts of the original store still survive in the present building.

Stop 11 : Tudor Shops (71-75 High Street)

The Tudor shops were built in the late 1920’s by Sir Sidney Sewell of “Roads End”, Berwick. One of the earliest tenants of the buildings was the Blue Plate Tea Room and traveling library.

Cross the road to the other side of High Street.

Stop 12 : Rechabite Hall, Christians Meeting House and Post Office and Court House

This group of public buildings was built in the 1880’s. The Rechabite Hall (106 High Street) was built in 1886. The Temperance movement was strong during the nineteenth century and this is one of the many buildings throughout Victoria dedicated to the cause. It was later used by the Returned Soldiers League, then the Freemasons.

The Christians Meeting House was built for the Church of Christ in 1886. The earliest service took place in Berwick in 1869 by the preacher, Mr Hamill, who walked from Prahran to Pakenham to conduct services. The wooden Sunday school behind it has the distinction of having been built in a single day by a working bee in 1916.

A banquet was held at the Mechanics’ Institute in 1885 to celebrate the opening of the Post Office and Court House. The building was designed by John Kelleher and nearly identical buildings were located at Murtoa and Donald.

A detour : St Margaret’s Girls School

A detour down Gloucester Avenue will take you to St Margaret’s Girls School. On the property are two Federation bungalows “Kippenross” (1911) and Gloucester House (1918) and a small neo-Gothic cottage dating from 1878.

Gloucester Cottage is also located at 66 Gloucester Avenue, opposite St Margaret’s.

Re-cross High Street

Stop 13 : Berwick Mechanics’ Institute and Free Library

The Mechanic’s Institute was established in 1864. It moved to this site in 1877; the land being donated by Robert Bain, the publican. The Institute still operates as a popular lending Library run by volunteers. The Heritage collection includes many of the original nineteenth century books and the Casey Collection; a collection of books and magazines from the private library of Lord and Lady Casey.

Stop 14 : The Berwick Inn

The Berwick Inn (formerly known as the Border Hotel) has played a large role in the development of the town of Berwick. It was the venue for the first police Court and the Berwick District Roads Board was formed in this building in 1862. The earliest section of the building, the triangular single storey part, dates from 1857. The two storey sections were added in 1877 and 1887. The first licensee of the hotel was Robert Bain. The Bain family owned the hotel until 1909, with Susan Bain taking over as licensee after her husband’s death in 1887.

Stop 15 : Plantation in centre of High Street

In the centre of High Street there is the War Memorial and a memorial to Edwin Flack. Edwin Flack, born 1873, won the 800 and 1500 metre races in the 1896 Athens Olympics, the first Olympic Games of the modern era. On his return he owned a farm in Berwick and was buried in the Berwick cemetery when he died in 1935.

Walk down Lyall road and back to Pioneer Park.

A detour – Wilson Botanic Park

Looking towards Melbourne, the Wilson Botanic Park was built on the site of the bluestone quarry owned by the Wilsons. The Wilson family owned the quarry for over 100 years and donated the land to the Council for the Park in 1973.

Further information 

City of Casey

PO Box 1000
Narre Warren Vic 3805

Telephone: (03) 9705 5200
Facsimile: (03) 9705 9544
TTY: (03) 9705 5568
TIS: 131 450 (Translating and Interpreting Service)