Journey to Joadja

Journey to Joadja
Friends Day Trip Special event

21 September 2019, 8.00am-6.00pm
Foyer, Ground floor

$110 Friends of the NLA members, $130 Non-members; price includes transport, morning tea, lunch and all entry fees

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Strap yourself in for a day of history, bushrangers and ghosts as we head for the Highlands with a bus-full of Friends!

Leave the steps of the National Library and arrive in the Southern Highlands for a day filled with history. After morning tea, enjoy a tour of the heritage listed settlement of Joadja, established in 1870s to service local mining. Ramble the fascinating site of building ruins and marvel at the feats of engineering on this then-remote site. Follow the tour with a barbecue lunch and whisky tasting at the on-site Joadja Distillery. Travel on to historic Berrima Courthouse (built in 1835) for a museum tour to learn about local outlaws, ghosts and architecture. Finish off the day with afternoon tea at one of Berrima’s many cafes.

This tour may include walking over uneven surfaces so please ensure you wear sturdy footwear. Please keep this in mind when booking and inform us if there are any issues.


Added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register in 1999, the heritage-listed settlement of Joadja began its story in the late 1870s to service the opening of a shale mine in cliffs. At its peak approximately 1,200 people, mostly Scottish immigrants, lived at the settlement, requiring and developing many of the facilities that make a community operate.
The mine, which invited the workers to the site, was eventually to become the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co, mining shale to refine into a plethora of products.
These workers brought their families, and the town rapidly developed a general store, post office, and bakery. The School of Arts building doubled as a church for services delivered by ministers from Mittagong. The school for the community’s many children (up to ninety at its height) started life as a slab and bark building and was eventually replaced by a stone building in 1879.
A lifeline and feature of the village was the steep rail line, constructed to replace the bullock teams, for transport and haulage. The incline was powered by a 40-horsepower steam engine, and allowed for easier connection to Mittagong.
‘.. hundreds of Scottish oil shale miners who brought with them their skills in the mining and retorting technique… and the stilling and brewing of “sly grog”.’—Joadja Distillery.

For extra reading about the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co, you can find their catalogue circa 1885 in the National Library's collection and online through Trove

Berrima Courthouse

‘Hoteliers petitioning for licenses; litigants seeking mediation for disputes; escaped convicts and notorious bushrangers, cattle stealers, sly grog sellers, thieves, and murderers brought to justice, many to end their days in the forbidding walls of the prison next door are just some of the stories that highlight the Courthouse.’—Berrima Courthouse

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Image: Joadja rail, c 1885, photographed by August Tronier