History & art collide in the Goulburn region
Declared Australia’s first inland city in 1863, Goulburn is full of historic treasures. Wander along the pretty riverside paths and city streets to discover your favourites.
Remember the fallen
The 1925 Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum honours Goulburn’s sons and daughters who served in World War I. As well as being a moving tribute, it’s one of the country’s most spectacularly located memorials, perched on a rocky outcrop with views over the city and beyond. The panoramas from the original 19.5m tower are worth the visit alone, but the adjacent museum has built up an enviable collection over nine decades, including a cell door from a Changi prison along with breathtaking memorabilia of national significance.
Get a head of steam
Set on the banks of the picturesque Wollondilly River at Marsden Weir, Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum is the Southern Hemisphere’s only complete, steam-powered city water supply still left in its original location. Step inside and step back in time as you admire the original 19th-century Appleby Bros beam engine pump and Galloway boilers, which are fired up on select dates throughout the year. BYO picnic to enjoy on the riverbank.
Take an arty walk
They take their art seriously in Goulburn. For proof, look no further than the dozens of public artworks that are dotted throughout the city, from sculptures to murals to footpath tiles that reference different forms of transport. You can admire them all on the Public Art Walk Goulburn, which will have you wandering all over town – and as far as neighbouring Marulan. Have a giggle and get a photo underneath Todd Robinson’s The happening of everything that happens in time, which looks like a giant water balloon suspended above the Wollondilly Walking Track.
Be inspired by the city’s new creative precinct
Join the laughs at international comedy shows, be wowed by world-class local performances and sing along to favourite musicals and musicians – Goulburn’s new multi-million-dollar Goulburn Performing Arts Centre opened in early 2022 and it’s already the hottest ticket in town. The centre melds both old and new: the red-brick heritage building that served as the Old Town Hall from 1887 to 1990 now forms the gateway to the centre, which includes a state-of-the-art, 400-seat, two-tiered theatre that showcases both local and touring shows.
For art’s sake
Feel the creative inspiration of both regional artists as well as bigger names in the Australian art world at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, located in the Civic Centre. Drop in from Monday to Saturday to see what’s showing in the two exhibition spaces (the gallery’s main focus is contemporary art), the interesting artisan items on sale in the small but well-curated gallery store and browse the latest works acquired for the public art collection. Entry is free.
See something big
When driving into Goulburn, it’s obligatory to swing by the Big Merino – a three-storey ‘Big Thing’ built in 1985 – for a must-snap selfie with the enormous ram. Built to celebrate Goulburn and the surrounding district's fine-wool industry, he’s known as “Rambo” (the name of the local stud ram upon which he’s modelled). The Big Merino houses an exhibition on the history of wool in Australia; there’s also a gift shop with a wide selection of wool products.
Hop on board
You don’t need to be a trainspotter to enjoy the, home to the state’s largest heritage locomotive roundhouse – one of the city’s most treasured working relics. The 1928 roundhouse (a circular structure built to service locomotives) is just one of the fascinating things to explore here, and a vastly knowledgeable volunteer guide will be more than happy to show you more, like getting to look at the underside of a steam engine (now there’s a trainspotter’s happy place).
Say a little prayer
Goulburn is home to one of the country’s most beautiful Gothic churches, the 1884 St Saviour’s Anglican Cathedral. You could easily spend a couple of quiet hours here: start by admiring the exterior, constructed of Bundanoon sandstone, before you explore the interior, which includes magnificent stained-glass windows (the east window is particularly striking), high vaulted ceilings, an intricately carved Bishops’ Throne and the renowned pipe organ, built in England by Forster and Andrews in 1884, and fully restored in 1978.The small side chapel is the ideal spot for a little reflective time.
Tour a heritage homestead
A walk through the Riversdale Historic Homestead is like stepping right into a family home from the 1800s, with beautifully preserved interiors and all original paddocks and outbuildings. Originally established as a coaching inn, this Colonial Regency-style stone barn built by Mathew Healy in 1832 is the only surviving building of the first settlement at Goulburn Plains. In the 1850s, Riversdale was used as a school before becoming home to NSW Surveyor-General, Edward Twynam, and his family for more than 90 years. Wander through the gardens and see the magnificent Australian Colonial furniture when the home opens to the public on the first Sunday of the month.
Refuel at a local favourite
Order dinner with a side of nostalgia at Paragon Cafe, an Auburn Street institution that dates back to 1940. Reminiscent of Australia’s traditional high-street eateries, this popular eatery serves up all-day breakfast, satisfying burgers and more. Those interested in more contemporary dining can steer towards , a chic cafe and popular cycle stop for local riders. Relax in the bright and breezy dining space, order a green juice from the fresh juice bar and have a browse at the well-stocked bike shop.