Anytime is a good time to visit Goulburn, NSW but we found the October long weekend was the perfect time for us. Goulburn is located a bit over a two hour drive south-west of Sydney. It is known as NSW’s first inland city.
I grew up on a farm not far from Goulburn and a visit to Goulburn was usually a highlight of the year. So I was keen to see what had changed over the years and what there was to do in town during our visit.
WAKEFIELD PARK RACEWAY
Our main reason for visiting Goulburn was to attend the 2019 Cobra Nationals. The Cobra Nationals are an event run by the NSW Cobra Car Club. Up to 70 Cobras attend the weekend and participate in events including Super Sprints, Hill Climb and Slalom.
Brenden’s uncle owns and races a Cobra and we were both keen to see him in action. It was a great weekend of racing and we both got to do a few passenger laps which was just an awesome experience. Brenden also volunteered as a Flag Marshall which put him right on top of the action.
Wakefield Park also hold a number of other events throughout the year. It is also a place where you can race your street car or learn to race under controlled conditions. It’s a great asset to Goulburn and those who are interested in motor sport.
ROCKY HILL WAR MEMORIAL
Although we spent a lot of time at the track, we still made time to look around Goulburn itself. One of Goulburn’s most prominent features is the Rocky Hill War Memorial. It looks out over the entirety of the city and can be seen from just about anywhere in town.
It was opened in 1925 as a lasting tribute to the men and women of Goulburn who served during World War I. Designed by architect E.C Manfred, it is built of stone and stands 20 metres tall.
After recently undergoing refurbishment, the tower is once again open to the public and the views of the whole of Goulburn are just fantastic.
Next door to the War Memorial, you will find the newly completed Rocky Hill War Memorial Museum. The current exhibition is of war trophies from the World War I. These items were collected by soldiers during the European conflict and were previously held in the crypt of the War Memorial.
The objects in this display are like nothing I have ever seen before and we can highly recommend a visit to this small, but fascinating museum. Entry to both the War Memorial and Museum are free.
GOULBURN WATER WORKS MUSEUM
The Goulburn Historic Waterworks was built between 1883 and 1885 to provide water to the growing city of Goulburn. Built on the banks of the Wollondilly River it was still in use until the late 1970’s.
Today, you can take a self-guided tour of the waterworks and learn about the workings of the engines that ran the plant. Approximately four times a year the Waterworks holds a Steaming Day. Attend one of these and you can see the 1883 Appleby Bros beam engine in operation.
The surrounding area is also a great spot for a picnic or BBQ.
THE BIG MERINO
Another Goulburn icon is The Big Merino. Continuing Australia’s obsession with all things big, The Big Merino was first built in 1985 to celebrate the Goulburn areas ties to the wool industry.
In 2007 the decision was made to move the Big Merino to a more prominent location and it was moved 800 metres down the road. The impressive structure stands over 15 metres tall and is 18 metres long.
Inside, you can climb up into the nose of the structure. There is also a timeline of the history of the local wool industry.
The gift shop next to the Big Merino stocks an impressive range of woolen items and other gift ware. Some items are reasonably priced, but some things are extremely expensive. $90 for a scarf!
If you want a photo of the Big Merino with no one else in it, my suggestion is that you will need to arrive early. Regardless, it is a most impressive sight and well worth a visit.
If you are partial to a decent meat pie, head across the road from the Big Merino to Trappers Bakery. It has a great selection of goodies to try!
I love a bit of history and there is certainly plenty to be found in Goulburn. Put these places on your must visit list.
GARROORIGANG HISTORIC HOME
Garroorigang is a Heritage Listed home that was built in 1857 as an Inn to service traffic heading to the goldfields. Even infamous bushranger Ben Hall once graced the bar there.
A few years later in 1868 it was sold to the Belcher family who converted it into a private boarding school for boys. It remained a school for 20 years.
Today it is the home of the Hume family – descendants of explorer Hamilton Hume. The remarkable thing about Garroorigang is that it has remained in the same family for over 150 years. The condition of the house, it’s lay out and furnishings have also remained the same for almost all that time. Only electricity and modern amenities have been added over the years.
A guided tour with a family member will cost you $12.00. No photos are allowed inside the house but you are welcome to take as many photos outside as you wish. I was taken around the house by owner Stuart and his knowledge of the house and its history was remarkable.
ST SAVIOUR’S CATHEDRAL
St Saviour’s Anglican Cathedral was completed in 1884 after taking 10 years to complete. The inside of St Saviour’s is richly decorated with impressive stained glass windows and a 3000 pipe organ.
Interestingly, the Bell Tower was only completed in 1988 – 104 years after the completion of the rest of the Cathedral. It truly is a remarkable building, even if you are not of any particular religious persuasion.
The stone on the outside walls is from nearby Marulan with the stone on the inside walls and pillars coming from Bundanoon and Pyrmont, respectively.
Riversdale Homestead was constructed in the late 1830’s as a Coaching Inn. Formally the home to the NSW Surveyor General – Edward Twynam, it remained in the Twynam family until it was sold to the National Trust in 1967.
Riversdale houses a number of beautiful carved wooden pieces and large tapestries all made by Emily Twynam. The homestead is also surrounded by lovely gardens. The house is open to the public on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Entry is $10 per person.
GOULBURN AS A BASE
Goulburn is a great spot to use as a base to explore the local area. Small towns and villages such as Crookwell and Taralga are nearby. From Goulburn it is an easy drive to the Wombeyan Caves or Bungonia National Park. It is also just an hours drive to Canberra.
We chose to stay at the South Goulburn Tourist Park, which is located just off the Hume Highway near the Big Merino. It has just been taken over by new managers and they have plans to tidy up the current sites and grounds.
If you are looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat try the Paragon Cafe. This Goulburn institution has been around for as long as I can remember and offers affordable family meals.
For something a little bit more upmarket you could try Edge Bar and Restaurant located inside the Mercure Goulburn. Not a spot for everyday dining, but certainly a lovely spot for a special night out.