To mark the beginning of the cooler months, I wanted to host my "Psychic Supper with Genevieve" platform in Berrima, one of NSW's most popular getaway destinations. Aside from its beautiful location, I am intrigued by the area.
As with Berrima's stone foundations which link the past with the present, our personal journey is connected by our past lives and what we've experienced in this present one. In fact, the stones are like our Akashic Records where each layer holds so many storied encounters.
The Magpie Cafe, where I'll be hosting the event, is also an iconic location in town. The energy is sweet and feminine, and the food is incredible. It makes a superb venue for such a venue.
One of the state's oldest towns, Berrima is never more idyllic than in the autumn, when the air is crisp, and the gardens and parks are aflame in a kaleidoscope of fiery hues.
Last November, I came to the Southern Highlands for a psychic party and spent some downtime strolling the town just before dusk. I heard whisperings of bushrangers, the indigenous tribes that settled around the Wingecarribee River, and the lingering spirits of the colonial settlers.
I can tell you that the old buildings also give the community an eerie element; the Georgian-style Berrima District Courthouse, The Whitehorse Inn, Harper's Mansion, Holy Trinity Church, Surveyor General Inn and historic Jellore Street, an avenue that can only be best described as a time-traveller's rapture.
Although I found Berrima's energy tinged with lightness, the town also fosters a dark legacy; Berrima Gaol and its haunting gallows.
Almost 150 years before mass-murderer, Ivan Milat terrorised the community, ex-convict, John Lynch chartered a similar killing spree, which came to a grisly end after he was sentenced to death for slaughtering ten people with an axe. The following year, a local settler, Lucretia Dunkley and her lover, Martin Beech also ended their days at the end of a noose for murder. It is thought that their bodies lie buried somewhere on its grounds.
Adding to the gaol's sense of tragedy was its penal reform programme, which struck terror into the heart of every prisoner incarcerated within its bleak, sandstone walls. So notorious, the author, Thomas Alexander Browne spoke of the horrors that the prisoners endured through the voice of the bushranger, Dick Marston, in his famous book, Robbery Under Arms (1882).
The gaol later housed 329 German interns during WW1; officers from the raider SMS Emden, which was sunk by the HMAS Sydney in 1914.
Finally, the gaol closed its doors and stood silent for almost a quarter of a century.
Late last year, Berrima Gaol was recommissioned as a minimum security correctional facility, but for me, it remains a place where the residual energy is strong. Even as I walked passed its sweet-smelling rose garden, the heaviness of past lives clung to its walls.
Of course, Berrima and the surrounding towns boast a wealth of gentile activities and natural beauty; especially if you drive the many roads that cut a swath through its rolling green hills and pastoral farmlands.
If you decide to stay for the weekend, there are many discoveries and indulgences waiting for you to enjoy; from day spas, shopping to viewing public gardens or drives to Fitzroy Falls, Morton National Park and the villages of Sutton Forest, Bundanoon and Penrose.
Other great attractions include Dirty Janes Antique Mall in Bowral, Susie Anderson Home in Moss Vale, Equilibrium in Bowral, Sutton Forest Olives (by appointment), Cuttaway Creek Farm in Mittagong, Red Cow Farm, Berkelouw Book Barn, Centennial Wines plus more.
Just make sure you book your room ahead of time. There are also several great Airbnb establishments around in the region along with deluxe retreats and motels. The drive to Sydney or Canberra is also effortless at night if you wish to get back home.
No matter what your weekend plans are, I look forward to seeing you on May 13!