St. Peter’s, Burrawang

Address: Church Street, Burrawang NSW 2577

A brief history

Short history of the Burrawang Catholic Church prepared for its Centenary in 1969 by J. McGrath

The Burrawang Catholic Church is the original building, after two acres of ground were purchased at 20 pounds per acre. The ground was cleared by Catholics and non-Catholics at night working by bonfire light after working on their own settlements during the day. What a great neighbourly spirit existed between these early settlers.

After enough ground was cleared, Allen and Lawler built the church at a cost of Two Hundred and Eighty Pounds. The timber was milled below the park at Burrawang by the late C. Moule. The shingles were split by the champion shingle splitter of the day, Ned Moses and the windows had shutters on them.

The church was still in the Berrima Parish and horse-drawn vehicles were the order of the day. I have seen some thirty horses in the churchyard on a Sunday morning and the church would be packed with people.

Reverend Father McQueen, who must have lived much of his life in the saddle, would pack two saddle bags and set out on horseback to offer Mass around the district at Moss Vale, Burrawang, Robertson, Kangaloon, Mittagong and Bowral. The trip took over three weeks and we had Mass once a month as there were no other churches built at other centres until well into 1880. What a self-sacrificing priest he was! 

People cherished their Christian teachings in those days. What with 11 a.m. Mass, a long sermon and fasting from the night before, some people who lived a distance from the church would not get a meal before 2.30p.m. I have heard on many occasions of men walking 10 miles thought the bush from Fitzroy falls to Berrima to Mass. The writer’s grandmother took her infant son 16 miles on horseback to Berrima to be christened.

As well as attending to the spiritual side of things these great people fought for other advantages. In 1884 the late Mr. Elliot Harrington conducted the first youth movement in Burrawang. The young people marched down the street with tallow lamps on sticks. The first Brass Band was formed in 1877 and both of these organisations were the first of their kind outside the metropolitan area. The first Veterinary Surgeon to the district was Mr. Battyre.

Research continues about the Robertson Community.



To take a virtual tour of St Peter’s Church, click here.

Virtual tour created by Fr Joseph Maria Buckley OSPPE. 



Click here for the Burrawang Cemetery Register (opens the “” site in a new window).

Photographs for this page kindly supplied by Noel North.

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