Berrima Courthouse Run

06 September 2018 / Words: Barry Matson, Photos: Barry Matson, Rod Nicholas

On a very cold but Clear Sunday morning 11 young MX 5s mixed incongruously with an assortment of aged Holdens at the Epic servo on Northbourne Avenue. So we were not the only club braving the winter weather in the pursuit of car fun. Elfie and I were leading this time, and we had promised a brisk drive through the back roads to Marulan, followed by a short run up the highway to Berrima, a colonial era settlement famed for crime and punishment. We were to be given a taste of the harsh justice faced by the early settlers as the Sydney settlement pushed out into the bush during the 1830s.

No problems were anticipated with the navigation as we had done the dry run a week before and all the turns went smoothly, as planned on the computer. However, just as the plans of sailors are said to be written in the sand, so it was for me this time. I could blame the clumsy ergonomics of my ND GPS or the poor sign-posting, or my loyal partner/navigator, but the truth was that I was having a bad day and many of my turn decisions proved to be incorrect. It had all seemed so easy on the dry run!

My first clue was that my chosen path turned into a dirt road. It did go to Bungonia, but not in a way that any MX 5 would find comfortable. So we back-tracked and found the bitumen to Bungonia, where we were joined by John from Sydney. Although it seems like a one road village, I managed to find the wrong road to Marulan, although the others had the good sense not to follow me. My CB alerted me to my mistake and I soon rejoined and took the lead once more. Soon we arrived at the Hume Highway and my nightmare continued at the complicated roundabout that splits the traffic to the north and south of the town. True to form, I chose the wrong exit and led us on an exploration of the Boral industrial complex. It seemed like we must come back to the Hume soon, but not so. After turning at the dead end, we followed a concrete truck back to the Hume and our planned coffee at the Truck Stop café. We had lost about a half hour on the planned itinerary but even I could not go wrong on Australia’s largest motorway, and we arrived at Berrima with plenty of time to have lunch before our rendezvous at the Court House.

Our tour of the 19th century courthouse started with a short film about the expansion of the Sydney settlement into the Southern Highlands. My navigation chagrin was relieved somewhat when I learned that the convict escapees who first explored this region had been heading for China, convinced that it was just over the mountains. Perhaps I do have some convict ancestry after all.
Our tour of the forbidding sandstone courthouse ended with a splendid audiovisual re-enactment of the sentencing portion of a famous murder trial that took place there in the 1830s. A husband had been murdered by his wife and her lover. Justice was swift and certain in those days, and the Judge left no room for doubt about the inevitability and finality of British justice.

Mercifully, we dispersed after the tour and made our own way home, so I did not cause any more navigation crime or punishment for our group.