The History of Berry

The traditional indigenous people of the area were the Wodi Wodi people, a sub-group of the Dharawal nation.

In the 1810s, George William Evans, Government Surveyor, reported that the district approximately 100 miles (150 km) south of Sydney was suitable as a possible settlement area. He also reported that there were good stands of red cedar in the area, which brought itinerant timber cutters to the area to cut down and send cedar to Sydney.

Alexander Berry, with his business partner Edward Wollstonecraft, pioneered European settlement in the Shoalhaven region in 1822. Berry called his estate Coolangatta, from an indigenous word "Cullengutty" meaning splendid view. From an initial grant of 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) and 100 convicts, the estate grew to more than 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) by 1863.

The area now known as Berry was known as Broughton Creek when it was first settled in 1825. It was a private town and part of the Coolangatta Estate.

The first settlers of the town were seven free sawyers employed by Alexander Berry who camped at Broughton Creek in 1825. Soon after, a tannery began operation. In the 1840s, a saw mill powered by a water wheel was started. By 1866 a very substantial town had grown on the either side of Broughton Creek. On the Pulman Street side, a post office, school, tannery and store were established. On the other side of the creek, where the main part of the town now stands, an inn was opened. By this time the population had grown to 300 and the area was declared a Municipality.

In 1873 Alexander Berry died and his brother David Berry became the owner of the estate. He encouraged the growth of the town by establishing an Agricultural Showground and giving land to four religious denominations (Catholic, Church of England, Methodist and Presbyterian) to build churches in the town.

Following the death of David Berry, the name of the town was changed from Broughton Creek to Berry in 1889 to honour the Berry family. After his death the outlying land of the Coolangatta Estate was gradually sold. The town continued to grow and flourish as a district centre for mainly saw milling and dairying.

The Wreck of the Schooner Coolangatta

In order to provide boat access to his estate, Alexander Berry had explorer Hamilton Hume and a party of convict labourers cut a 209-yard (175 meters) canal from the Shoalhaven River to the Crookhaven River. The canal was completed in twelve days, and was the first canal constructed in Australia. After its construction, Berry set up shipbuilding facilities, completing his first vessel as early as 1824.

The town of Coolangatta in Queensland is named after Berry's schooner the 'Coolangatta’ which was wrecked off Point Danger in Queensland during a storm on Wednesday August 18, 1846.