Goulburn is a small regional city 200 km (120 miles) in the Southern Highlands, southwest of Sydney. With a population of 24,000 (2018), Goulburn is one of the largest cities in the region and a rural hub for surrounding agriculture. Goulburn lays claim to be Australia's first inland city to be settled.

The Big Merino, one of Australia's Big Things and a reminder of Goulburn's agricultural history

Understand edit

Situated at the confluence of the Wollondilly and Mulwaree Rivers, the fertile lands which surround the area of Goulburn were for centuries the home a number of the local Aboriginal populations. White settlers discovered the area in the late 1700s, and the first land grant was made in 1825. The city grew as a result of its location, being located on the road south from Sydney (now the Hume Highway) and in the 19th century it became the administrative centre for the "Argyle County" district. Goulburn gained a great deal of its prosperity during the Gold Rush (when many of its main buildings were constructed) and the coming of the Main South Railway Line between Sydney and Melbourne in 1869 (which is still in operation). In particular, the area became known for its merino wool which was sent from Goulburn around Australia and overseas. The city had the unique distinction of being granted city status twice - once in 1853 by Queen Victoria (which established the city as a "cathedral city" and allowed its cathedral, St Saviour's, to be constructed), then officially again in 1885.

In the twentieth century, the city's importance declined as a result of the growth of coastal cities in Australia, as well as Goulburn's proximity to the new national capital Canberra. These factors led to many government bodies and institutions that had established branches in Goulburn departing the city for Canberra or Sydney, and leaving Goulburn to rely on its wool trade and its place as a service centre on the highway. The city was finally bypassed by the Hume Highway in the 1990s and the wool trade has declined, but Goulburn is still considered the major "city" between Sydney and Canberra and visitors still take the turn off the highway to visit. Importantly, the city has retained its heritage and remains an important part of Australia's early history.

Though it might be considered quiet compared to the bustling Sydney two hours up the road, the Goulburn area still has a surprisingly large number of things to do and see, and it remains a good stop-off point in between Sydney, Canberra, the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven.

Climate edit

Goulburn has a climate unlike most of its neighbouring towns due to its location at the bottom of a valley: summers tend to be relatively hot and dry and winters cold. The summer temperature range is 10-40°C (50-104°F) and winter's is -5-18°C (23-64°F). Be sure to bring layers in winter as it can get quite windy and very cold. Despite the varied temperature, Goulburn can be visited at any time of year as long as you bring the right clothing.

Get in edit

Goulburn's position as a service centre between two major cities gives a visitor plenty of options to choose from when visiting.

By car edit

Goulburn is just off the Hume Highway, approximately 90km from Canberra and 195km from Sydney. From Canberra, take the Federal Highway (Northbourne Ave) and then the Hume Highway North. From Sydney, take the M5 Motorway and then the Hume Highway. There are two exits to Goulburn from the freeway.

An alternative, and more scenic route from Canberra is to take the Kings Highway east to Bungendore, then follow Tarago and Braidwood Roads north into the city. This route is slightly longer than the freeway and takes just under 2 hours.

If coming from the Blue Mountains, Bathurst or the Central West, a quicker way to get to Goulburn than to drive through Sydney is to drive to Oberon and take the Taralga Road which comes into Goulburn from the north.

By train edit

  • NSW Trainlink Regional runs 4-5 train services per day from Central Station in Sydney to Goulburn on the way to Melbourne and Canberra (from $28 one-way). A train from Sydney will take just over 2½ hours to reach Goulburn. Goulburn's historic railway station is in the centre of town on Sloane Street. NSW Trainlink Regional trains need to be booked in advance.
  • NSW Trainlink Intercity also run local trains integrated with the Sydney Trains network to and from Goulburn on the Southern Highlands Line. Services are geared more around getting travellers from Goulburn to and from Sydney, meaning that unless you plan on travelling when the commuters do, you will need to catch a bus and be prepared to spend up to 4.5 hours with two trains and a bus to get there (change at Campbelltown, for train to Moss Vale, Moss Vale for bus to Goulburn). The upside is that tickets are cheap ($8.20 adult/$4.20 child one way), accept Opal, and have the Opal caps and rewards.

By bus edit

  • Greyhound, 1300 473 946 (local rate call), fax: +61 746382178. include Goulburn as a request stop on its GF230 service between Sydney and Melbourne. The Sydney-Melbourne service leaves Sydney's Central Station at 9AM and arrives Goulburn at 12:30PM, going on to Canberra (1:30PM) and arriving Melbourne at 11PM the same day. The reverse Melbourne-Sydney service leaves Melbourne's Southern Cross Station at 7:15AM, arrives Canberra 4:30PM, Goulburn 6:30PM and Sydney Central at 9:25PM. Fares from $32.40 from Sydney. Firefly also advertise this route but it is codeshared with Greyhound.
  • Murray's, +61132251, . run a daily service between Canberra and Wollongong which stops at Goulburn (from $20.30). The Canberra-Wollongong service leaves Goulburn at 6PM and arrives 7:10PM each day. The reverse service leaves Goulburn at 12:30PM (2:30PM on Sundays), arriving Canberra at 1:40PM (3:40PM on Sundays). The express Sydney-Canberra Murray's buses do not stop in Goulburn.

By plane edit

Goulburn Airport is a general aviation airfield approximately 7 km south of the city. It is a popular trip for light aircraft from Sydney. Goulburn Airport, Airport Rd, +61 403368933, fax: +61248226150. Fuel and coffee available. There is no public transport to the airport, and without a car you will need to get a taxi.

The nearest commercial airport with scheduled passenger services is Canberra Airport, approximately one hour away. However, if you're using public transport you'll probably find travelling via Sydney both quicker and easier.

Get around edit

By foot edit

The main street of Goulburn is short enough to be easily walkable and most of the older buildings and attractions are close to the centre of town.

By bus edit

PBC Goulburn operate local bus services from the city centre to the surrounding suburbs, including as far north as Kenmore. Fares range from $2.10-5.20 (children $1-2.60) depending on distance travelled.

By car edit

If you are staying outside of the centre of the city or wish to see some of the other sights, the only practical method of transport is by car or taxi. Car hire is available from:

See edit

St Saviour's Cathedral dominates Goulburn's skyline

In town edit

  • 1 The Big Merino, Cnr Hume & Sowerby Streets (Just off the southern exit from the Freeway in the service centre), +61 2 4822 8013, fax: +61 2 4822 9369. M-Sa 8:30AM-5:30PM, Su 9AM-5:30PM. Possibly Goulburn's most well-known tourist attraction. Being a rural hub, the 15 m (49 ft) tall concrete Merino sheep symbolises the town's importance to the local farming industry. Stairs ascend inside the structure past mildly interesting displays on wool and merinos (Australia's most common sheep breed). Originally located in the centre of the town, when the freeway bypass meant that the merino lost visitors, in 2007 the owners put it on a truck and moved it 800 m up the road. The lookout at the top of the stairs has now been renovated to allow visitors to see out the top again. The base of the concrete ovine houses a tourist gift shop.
  • 2 Goulburn War Memorial (Rocky Hill War Memorial & Museum), Memorial Rd (Follow Tourist Route 8 towards Bungonia and Bungendore, turn off onto Memorial Road at the Landsdowne Park sign), . Museum open Sa Su holidays 10AM - 4PM all year round. Gates to Rocky Hill lookout open 9AM – 5PM daily. The War Memorial Tower on Rocky Hill was built in 1924 in memory of the people who died during World War 1. While the tower has great views, even the lookout has an unparalleled view of the town, so it is worth visiting even when the museum is closed. The old caretaker's cottage contains a museum describing the city's involvement in the two world wars. You can walk up from Henry St, if you're keen. Free.
  • 3 Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre, 12 Braidwood Rd, +61 2 4822 1210. Tu-Su 10AM-3PM. A working roundhouse incorporating heritage rail locomotives (both steam and diesel) with displays on the history of the railway in Goulburn. Adult $10, concession $8, child $5.    
  • 4 St Saviour's Cathedral, Bourke St, +61 2 4821 2206. 10AM-4PM. The Gothic-style cathedral of the Anglican Church Diocese of Goulburn & Canberra, designed by notable Australian architect Edmund Blacket. Construction commenced in 1874. The cathedral is one of Australia's most beautiful regional cathedrals and attracts many tourists every year. Free.
  • Sculptures in honour of leading Australian blues musicians are located outside the information centre.
  • Historic Waterworks Museum, Marsden Weir, +61 2 4823 4462, fax: +61 2 4822 0977, . The Waterworks which became functional in 1886 was the first reticulated water supply for the booming city of Goulburn.
  • Australian Domestic Architecture is evident throughout the streets. Being the oldest inland city in NSW, the variety of housing styles is great. There are both good and bad examples of every era from the late 1880s onwards.
  • 5 Belmore Park. in the centre of town on the main street (Auburn Street) is the scene of many community events, including a monthly fair.
  • 6 Victoria Park. has a beautiful rose garden in the centre of it with children's recreational play sets.
  • 7 Goulburn Court House. Located across from Belmore Park.
  • 8 Old Goulburn Brewery, 23 Bungonia Rd. F-Su 10AM-4PM. It has been suggested that the buildings were designed by the famous colonial architect Francis Greenway as there are some stylistic similarities with his other work. There is an exhibition to support the assertion.    

In the area edit

  • Morton National Park starts at Bungonia about 20km from the town. In its upper reaches the Park is dry, and carries the Shoalhaven river over the escarpment on its way to Nowra. Walking trails are available from Bungonia.
  • Wombeyan Caves. Can be accessed in an hour through the nearby town of Taralga. A further 90 minutes from the caves is an extremely scenic but slow drive to Mittagong providing access to the Southern Highlands. This road is passable by 2-wheel drive but is of poor quality in the national park.

Do edit

  • The Public Swimming Pool is on the top side of Victoria Park
  • Skydiving. Skydiving is available at the airport just out of town.
  • Wakefield Park Motor Racing Track (Wakefield Park), 4770 Braidwood Rd (in Tirrannaville, 10 km south of Goulburn), +61 2 4822 2811. Dailh 8AM - 5PM. Wakefield Park runs public 'No Speed Limit' days (check the website for details) in which the public is allowed to drive to their hearts content. Rides in V8 supercars are also available for race fans wanting a thrill ride.

Events edit

  • Australian Blues Music Festival, +61 2 4823 4492, toll-free: 1800 353 646. Generally around the 2nd weekend of February. See the website for yearly times.
  • Lilac Festival. Annual festival in early October. Floral displays, markets, parades.

Buy edit

Goulburn has a wide main street, and there are still speciality shops and cafes along the street that you can walk and browse through. It hasn't yet been completely overrun by the large shopping malls yet.

  • 1 Centro Goulburn, 217 Auburn St. This is a shopping mall right in the middle of town, with the usual Kmart and Coles retailers. Also a small foodcourt.

Eat edit

Goulburn has plenty of cheap and quick food open all hours in town and at the highway services. There are two exits from the freeway from at Goulburn, and the southernmost exit (the furthest from Sydney, and closed to Canberra) has highway service area by the Big Merino, with a bakery and choice of fast food chains. If you take a small diversion through Goulburn there are other fast food options, including another McDonalds.

  • 1 Tamnak Thai, 380 Auburn Street, +61 2 4821-3388, . W–Su 11AM–2:30PM, 5-10PM. A Thai cafe and restaurant located at the northern end of the main road.
  • Our Place Bistro @ Tully Park Tavern, 33 Taralgo Rd, +61 2 4822-1258. American-style barbecued ribs, steaks, seafood and pizza. Family owned and operated.
  • 2 Paragon Cafe, 174 Auburn St. Daily 7:30AM-9:30PM. A longstanding cafe restaurant that retains a 1970s feel in its decor and layout. An extensive menu of hearty standards, usually with good service. $15-30.
  • The Rose Cafe. Sydney hipster cafe options meet country hospitality.

Drink edit

Essentially all the clubs and pubs in Goulburn are located around the central part of town up and down the main street and along perpendicular streets. All are within easy walking distance of each other.

  • 1 Goulburn Club, +61 2 4821 2043. Market St (opposite Belmore Park on the top floor of the Goulburn Club building). Open Th-Sa from 5PM onwards. Relaxed old English gentlemens club feel with sofas and chairs. Constantly changing art exhibits line the walls and live bands (generally jazz or blues) can be found irregularly.
  • Flamingos
  • Worker's Club, +61 2 4821 3355. McKell Place
  • 2 Soldier's Club, 15 Market St, +61 2 4821 3300.

Sleep edit

Coming off the freeway from Sydney, the road into Goulburn is lined with a range of convenient motels.

  • Goulburn Gateway Backpackers, +61 2 4821 9811, fax: +61 2 4821-2055. Old Hume Highway & Common Street.
  • Lilac City Motor Inn, 126-128 Lagoon St, +61 2 4821 5000, toll-free: 1800 654 12476, fax: +61 2 4821 8074.
  • Tattersalls Hotel, 76 Auburn St, +61 2 4821 3088. This hotel is right in the middle of town on the main street, and if you are unlucky enough to be in town at the end of the week or a public holiday expect lots of noise all night long.
  • Mandelsons Guest House, 160 Sloane St (Cnr Sloane St & Clinton St), +61 2 4821 0707, fax: +61 2 4821 0225, . $140-205 (Packages available).
  • Alpine Heritage Motel, 248 Sloane St, +61 2 4821 2930. Budget rooms: single $59, double $69, Queen $74 family $100. Deluxe rooms: Small (queen bed) $89, Large (king bed plus 3 single) $129.
  • Pelican Sheep Station, Braidwood Rd, +61 2 4821 4668, . There are farm tours complete with sheep shearing too. Prices start from $45 per person in a bunkhouse to $125 per person in a 5-bedroom house.
  • The Bakehouse. Next to the highway services (2nd Goulburn exit) with free WiFi - this is the place to stay if you're just coming off the freeway and need a convenient place for the night.

Connect edit

All mobile networks have good coverage in Goulburn. The visitors centre offers free Internet.

Go next edit

Goulburn is approximately 50 minutes from Bowral, Mittagong, and the Southern Highlands.

Sydneysiders tend to think of Goulburn as being half way to Canberra from Sydney, but it is less than an hour to drive to Canberra from Goulburn, on fast, good quality roads.

Sydney and Wollongong are both around 2 hours drive away; and day trips to Sydney are available by train from Goulburn as well.

Routes via Goulburn
AlburyYass SW M31 NE  BerrimaSydney
Canberra S M23 N  END
END SW  SHL  NE  MarulanCampbelltown

This city travel guide to Goulburn is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.