Buy a prison: Old Berrima Gaol in Southern Highlands listed for sale

A historic gaol with 60 cells and a watchtower has come up for sale after being decommissioned for use last year.

The former Berrima Correctional Centre in the Southern Highlands, built mostly by convicts in irons, was used as a prison for close to 200 years and is being sold off by the NSW government.

No price has been released and industry sources estimated the value of the site could range from a few million to $10 million.

The original sandstone buildings were constructed for £5400 between 1835 and 1839 and were designed by a convicted carpenter from London, who later gained a conditional pardon.

Berrima Correctional Centre was decommissioned last year.

The centre was operational between 1839 and 2011 with several breaks in between and was reopened in 2016 to support the NSW prison population, housing 75 minimum security prisoners.

It was used during WWI as a prisoner internment camp by the Australian Army before being remodelled in the 1940s.

The original sandstone of the Old Berrima Gaol was repurposed and only the entrance and outer walls of the original gaol were left standing.

The NSW government decommissioned the centre in 2020 and have listed the site with Colliers agents Nick Estephen, Thomas Mosca and Frank Oliveri.

There are multiple commercial and industrial facilities.

The 1.9Ha property includes guard offices, commercial space, historic cottages, a commercial kitchen and industrial shed. There is also a tennis court.

Mr Estephen said his office was being flooded with buyer inquiries, mostly from developers and hotel and retail operators wanting to repurpose the site.

“It could be used as a hotel or Airbnb location, or a unique retail (precinct) along the lines of The Grounds of Alexandria. They are so many possibilities,” he said.

The heritage property is currently zoned for SP1 Special Activities (Correctional Centre) and any alternative use or re-purposing will need to be approved via planning proposal or rezoning development application.

There are also old cottages on the site.

Mr Estephen said it was impossible to predict what price the property would attract. “There is nothing to compare it to,” he said.

Interest in the site is likely to be significant given growing tourism activity and the ongoing migration of Sydney residents to the Southern Highlands.

“Berrima is widely recognised today as the best-preserved example of a Georgian Village on the Australian mainland. The town was established in the 1830s during a time of great exploration and expansion in NSW,” Mr Mosca said.

Berrima Correctional Centre is being offered for sale by xpression of interest, closing November 26.