The grand inland city of Goulburn was once a mere stopover for many road trippers, but is now a destination in itself, layering contemporary food and wine experiences upon a rich and colourful rural heritage.
An effortless two-hour drive from Sydney will find you in the heart of Goulburn, surrounded by ornate heritage architecture dating back as far as 1830. Blend the past seamlessly with the present and you have a charming modern city with a wise, country soul. You may be surprised to find what Goulburn has to offer as one of NSW‘s major rural centres and emerging weekender destinations.
Rise and Shine
If you’re not eating at your accommodation, The Roses Cafe right on leafy Belmore Park is a popular choice. The family-run, cosmopolitan deli-style cafe is a classy dollop of up-to-date service and delicious food with a nod to tradition. There are great vegetarian options, too, such as the sensational granola with seasonal fruits or smashed avo’ with Danish feta and lemon on sourdough.
Saturday morning is the perfect time to stroll the busy streets and pick up a local bargain from one of the vintage or specialty boutiques, all within an easy walk. Stores such as Your Home Matters and Something Special carry a wide range of gift items and specialty homewares that will remind you of this charismatic region, while Baxter Boots & Shoes has a wide range of footwear to suit the whole family. Yes, all located right along bustling Auburn Street, the beating heart of Goulburn.
Any youngsters can work up an appetite at the Adventure Playground in Victoria Park. Swing, climb and crawl your way around the course. You can bet there weren’t playgrounds like this when you were growing up!
To market, to market
A perfect venue for local artisans and producers, Goulburn hosts a variety of markets, one being the Rotary Parkside Markets held on the second Saturday of the month in Montague Street between the heritage-listed Goulburn Court House and Belmore Park, right in the centre of town. You’ll find stalls offering quality local arts, handicrafts, fresh produce, plants and flowers.
Indulge your senses
Choose from any of the character-laden pubs along, or just off of Auburn Street for a hearty lunch. The Southern Railway Hotel serves Aussie pub food in one of Goulburn’s oldest pubs. If a late lunch is more your style, the Goulburn Soldiers Club offers a number of dining options.
Experience the past
Discover fascinating stories of Goulburn’s eclectic history with a Self-guided Heritage Tour (maps are available at the Visitor Information Centre) and see such buildings as the heritage-listed Court House designed by the famous colonial architect James Barnet. Completed in 1887, this spectacular edifice took more than two years to build and cost the equivalent $3.5 million today.
The Old Police Station, now an amazing second-hand book store, stands next door, while historic pubs and dainty heritage homes in the regional city date back almost 200 years.
Whilst enjoying the fresh air and leafy surrounds, the beauty of Goulburn’s enviable rural location delivers in abundance – and there are plenty of ways to breathe it in. Cycle any of the dedicated pathways or power-walk some or all of the four-kilometre-long Wollondilly River Walkway.
You’ll be ready for dinner after such an odyssey, so why not spoil yourself at one of Goulburn’s premium eateries. The Tattersall’s Hotel offer a great alternate to pub dining: try the local, free-range chicken menu with Franks’ Hot Sauce. Stay and kick on with cocktails and live music.
Rest your head
Choose to retire for the night in one of Goulburn’s varied accommodation options: from boutique to B&Bs or branded. The Best Western Plus serviced apartments and superior rooms are just 600 metres from the CBD. If you want something closer to the night life, the new Abbey Motel will change your mind about old-fashioned ‘motels’. The charming motel was recently built on the grounds of the century-old former St Patrick’s Technical College.
Sunday is a day for exploring by car. Grab an early breakfast at The Park Cafe [and make a visit to the poignant Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum for best views of the city. Recently awarded the Tripadvisor 2020 Travellers’ Choice Award, which ranks it in the top 10 per cent of tourist attractions worldwide, the military museum is a must.
If you haven’t worn out your walking shoes, why not add the Public Art Walk to your program and examine the 40 or so items of accessible art on the streets of Goulburn. The public art program bounds way outside of the safety of the gallery and brings contemporary art into the everyday experience of moving around Goulburn. Note that the gallery itself is closed on Sundays.
Find yourself in one of Goulburn’s bourgeoning foodie scene eateries. Here you can enjoy high quality, fresh, regionally grown produce or varied exotic cuisines, paired with a range of local cool climate wines.
Take a road less travelled and venture south to Yarralaw Springs Wines. This unique straw-bale winery crafts award-winning wines from six classic varieties. To the east is Bungonia Creek Wines set overlooking the beautiful Bungonia Gorge: sample the wines and experience the no-dig permaculture gardens.,
Full Steam Ahead
The days of steam locomotives may be over, but the glory of the mighty mechanisms are alive and well in Goulburn. The Victorian ‘Age of Steam’ was a defining era of history and you’ll see the past come to life on ‘Steaming Days’ at the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum located on the picturesque banks of the Wollondilly River. Just out of town and accessible on foot as part of the Wollondilly River Walkway. A perfect spot for a picnic basket lunch.
All the world’s a stage
Established in 1891, Goulburn’s Lieder Theatre Company is the longest-running theatre company in Australia. See a live performance in the historic theatre as a fitting finale to your glittering weekend in Goulburn.
Make Goulburn your next road trip or train weekend destination and let yourself be surprised. However, you may need more than one weekend.