Restoration plans for penal stockade at Towrang

4 April 1985 The Canberra Times

Work is expected to start soon on restoring culvert and the old Lennox Bridge at Towrang Stockade, near Goulburn.

The Towrang Stockade, situated seven miles north of Goulburn on the main Hume Highway, was once the largest convict settlement in the southern part of NSW.

The stockade was established in 1833 and comprised a triangular area at the junction of the Wollondilly River and Towrang Creek of about 25 acres.

This area contained the "powder magazine" under the high bank of the Wollondilly.

The partly excavated and stone faced powder magazine is built of random stone common to the site.

Due to its being partially underground, it has remained in comparatively good order and is worthy of a visit.

The huts and cell blocks were spread out over the more elevated area.

Rubble remains and excavations are still to be seen. 

Further evidence is to be seen in a few remaining fruit trees and hawthorn bushes.

On the opposite side of the highway, about six of the convict-built stone culverts bear testimony to the thoroughness of their builders.

Across Towrang Creek, on the northern bank, lies the small cemetery with an unknown number of graves.

The prisoners confined to the stockade were classified into two sections - the light seven-year men who performed mostly lighter laboring tasks and the longer sentence men of 14 years or life sentence who were mostly assigned to the "iron gangs".

These prisoners worked in irons on the heaviest tasks of excavation and burden.

The convicts were employed on building Mitchell's great South Road.

The iron gang at Towrang built the road culverts and bridges from Marulan to Goulburn.

Prisoners marched in single files to and from work to the jingle of the chains and the rattle of their irons.

They were marched back and forth by soldiers with fixed bayonets who stood over the prisoners at work.

They were then marched back under escort to their quarters where they partook of their evening meal consisting of "salt junk" damper and "post and rail" tea was of low quality, which was about all that could be procured in the colony at that time.

It became known as "post and rail" tea because of the small pieces of twig left in it to make up weight.

Retiring for the night convicts slept on bare boards, one blanket per man, and about ten or twelve men to a hut or 12 feet square cell.

One of the most popular attractions at the stockade today is the Lennox Bridge.

This beautiful piece of stonemasonry is in excellent condition although major portions of the parapet have been removed.

The bridge was designed by David Lennox, whose Landsdowne Bridge at Prospect [Creek] built in 1836 still carried modern loads after 140 years of service.

The Towrang bridge has been specified in the new restoration work program.

The Heritage Council of NSW recently announced a grant of $26,000 to be used specifically for the Lennox Bridge and Road.

Former Goulburn man Mr John Temple Watts has been chosen to prepare the plans and specifications for the work.

The Towrang powder magazine set beside the picturesque Wollondilly River just 12 kilometres north of Goulburn.