RoadTrip2021: My JimmyB collection

June 11, 2021 | 24 Comments

I thought it would be fun to put together, in one blogpost, all the JimmyB (James Barnet) sketches that I did during my 6-week trip. Searching out and sketching the JimmyBs in every town I visited became a big theme of my trip. But this was something that developed en route.

It actually all started with Palladio and this blog! As part of my trip prep, I was doing some Australian architecture research and the Cooma Courthouse  (by Barnet) stood out to me due to the design being heavily influenced by Palladio. James Barnet was not a name that I was familiar with (I’m not really up on Australian architectural history but I knew about Greenway, Lewis and Vernon). I sketched the Cooma Courthouse from a photo and then, as I was writing my blogpost (see here), I decided to see if I had sketched other Barnet buildings. I then discovered that indeed I had – quite a number of my favourite buildings were designed by him. Wow! But I still didn’t appreciate his significance.

When in Bathurst, I sketched the courthouse (which I knew was a JimmyB) and then visited the gaol to sketch his magnificent gate (which I had seen a photo of in my pre-trip research). But it was when I was in Dubbo that I realised that both the Courthouse and the Post Office were his work, and with a little research, that he had done many such buildings all throughout NSW. I had an idea – maybe I should sketch as many of them as I could?

But it was after getting a coffee from the Jimmy Barnet Espresso Bar (with a portrait of him as the logo) that I made the commitment to make this a serious project for the trip. And yes, I liked the idea of referring to him as Jimmy! It is possible that I might have started referring to him as ‘Jim’ anyway… but ‘Jimmy’ had a precedent!

As I travelled through NSW I became increasingly interested in Barnet – he had designed way more public buildings throughout the state than I had originally thought.

Since coming home I realised that I missed a few of his buildings (eg. Grenfell and Junee) and in fact, as Colonial Architect he was responsible for the design of 1400 buildings during his term – 1862-1890.  Incredible! (Of course, some of these would have been done by others in the Colonial Architect’s office… but still, it’s an impressive output!)

But more importantly, I’ve discovered how very important James Barnet was in the architectural history of Sydney. So I’m a massive fangirl now and you will be hearing more about him in the future. In fact today I had a JimmyB day and will share my sketches with you on Monday.

Okay… enough of the story of my JimmyB obsession. Let’s just get going with all of the sketches. Here they are in the order in which I sketched them.


Bathurst Courthouse


Bathurst Gaol


Dubbo Courthouse


Dubbo Post Office (Jimmy Barnet Espresso Bar is located in the arcade of this building)


Orange Courthouse


Carcoar Courthouse (on the corner) – I wasn’t aware at the time that this was a JimmyB!


Orange Post Office


Cowra Courthouse (with Walter Vernon)


Parkes Courthouse (with Walter Vernon)


Forbes Courthouse


Forbes Post Office


Narrandera Council Chambers (with Walter Vernon)


Hay Gaol


Hay Post Office


Albury Post Office


Yass Courthouse


Yass Post Office


Goulburn Courthouse


Goulburn Post Office


Goulburn Gaol

Berrima Gaol


Well, that is quite a lot of JimmyBs – 21 in total!  If I counted correctly this collection includes 9 courthouses, 7 post offices, 4 gaols and 1 council building. I might leave it to another article to discuss my favourites…

But in the meantime, I’d love to know if you have a favourite?
(Please leave your response in the comment section below – thanks!)


  • Laurence says:

    Hello Liz,
    I really enjoyed following your initiatory journey in your state and country.
    A little like you, urban architecture interests me perhaps also because I live in a port city marked by the constructions of the 18th century (Bordeaux in France). In addition, our region is dotted with sumptuous wine castles, some of which were inspired by Palladio ! 🙂
    However, my favorites are rather contemporary like Frank Gehry (Guggenheim Museum bilbao, often visited and that I “tried” to draw so many times …) and especially Rem Koolhaas.
    I discovered this architect thanks to “the Lemoine house” that he designed in 1998 outside Bordeaux (classified as a historical monument) and “the villa Dall’Ava” near Paris. Modern, aerial dwellings with very clean, functional and human lines, open to the outside. Its urban buildings are famous and often close to the “deconstructionism” movement.

    • Laurence says:

      Oups !!! After rereading your question, I realized that I had interpreted your question in my own way? Sorry but I realize that we English has its limits …. 🙂 I understood who your “favorite architect” was!
      Now I think I respond better to your request by saying that my favorite building/sketch is the Bathurst Courthouse

      • Liz Steel says:

        No worries Laurence… I enjoyed hearing about your favourite architect 🙂 And yes! I need to sketch more modern buildings!!!!

  • Roe Bronkhorst says:

    I loved following along as you took your Aussie expedition, and enjoyed the ‘familiarity’ of the sketches, which, although I hadn’t seen the places, I felt through my memories of country trips.
    I happened to be in a few of the locations after you had been through, and it gave me thought as I spied some of the buildings you had sketched. I sat in Orange opposite the Post office and the leaves on the trees had moved further into their winter state, but were still recognisable as being viewed in the same month. Felt fun for me !

  • Liesa Miller says:

    Hi Liz — It’s lovely to see them all together like this. I like the “watercolor magic” of the Bathurst Courthouse, and the depth of the Dubbo Courthouse. Also, the Goulburn Courthouse seems to shimmer and move! Thank you again for all your postings during your trip! Liesa

  • Jane Hallstrom says:

    The courthouses in general caught my eye, especially The Dubbo Courthouse.

  • Stephanie says:

    Hi Liz – It’s very hard to select a favorite! I like the effect of the transparency of the trees in the Orange Post Office sketch. I’m curious about how you chose to limit your blue skies to a vertical portion of the sketch. See the Dubbo Courthouse and Post Office, Orange Courthouse as examples.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Stephanie – good choice. The limited area of blue is all part of my page layout design process – creates more open-ended compositions and places for text. More in my Sketchbook Design course!

  • Eileen Condon says:

    Hard choice but My favorite is Forbes Post Office

  • Dana Richards says:

    I love the arches, proportions & color of the Parker’s Courthouse. It gives me an Arts & Crafts architectural vibe which I’m attracted to. Great project, Liz!

  • Emma Trim says:

    My favourite is the Dubbo Courthouse – simple, classic and love red accents and palm which just finish it off beautifully!

  • Anne Evans says:

    I’m in catch-up mode on your postings Liz. Really enjoying these sketches and the JimmyB focus. Do you know of John Horbury Hunt, whose public architecture of churches and schools in NSW overlapped the timeframe of Barnet? In the early 1990’s my father, a retired architect, took himself on a tour to find and look at Hunt’s buildings in NSW towns as he always admired them. According to what I have read his buildings are as much about building as they are about architecture. They are very tactile and pleasing. Perhaps another trip to document Hunt’s work would be interesting for you? And us!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Anne, Yes I know about John Horbury Hunt – in fact before this trip I knew more about him than JimmyB! And yes lots of options for future trips!

      • Anne Evans says:

        I’ll look forward to that. Sketches are so personal and unique I think it’s a great way to document our architectural and social history and get people caring about the heritage of where they live. More so than photographs. Your sketches are so alive!

      • Liz Steel says:

        Thanks Anne!

  • Cheryl P says:

    The Bathurst Courthouse is now beautiful restored — including getting the clock working again — so a good time to come back and visit. There are also charming buildings behind the courthouse in the park — the Gatekeeper’s cottage, the Begonia house and the Fernery. Also, Abercrombie House is interesting and steeped in history.

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