15 things to do in Goulburn (Australia)

Some of the best wool in the world comes from this small city in the southern highlands of NSW.

To celebrate this fact, a giant Merino sheep meets you on the side of the Hume Highway.

Goulburn was proclaimed Australia’s first inland city by Queen Victoria in 1863 and linked to the rail system a few years later to much fanfare.

What makes Goulburn special is that its Victorian heritage still lives on, whether it’s a Gothic Revival cathedral, a grand courthouse, a working pump station, a railway roundabout or a fine old manor on the edge of town.

1. Belmore Park

Belmore Park

Goulburn’s elegant Central Park is full of mature trees, manicured lawns, flower beds and small monuments.

The space was once the city’s market place and was named after NSW Premier Lord Belmore when the railway arrived in Goulburn in 1869. By the end of the century, the square had become a park, and the lovely Rotunda Band here dates from that remodel in 1899. On a stroll around Belmore Park, you’ll also find a mosaic of small gardens, war memorials, fountains and conservatories.

You can download a guide about this heritage or pick up a flyer at the Goulburn Visitor Center, a short walk from the bottom of Montague Street.

For a nice picnic, you can grab something to take away from the many restaurants along Auburn Street and Market Street on the north side of the park.

2. Cathedral of St. Saviour

Cathedral of St. Saviour

At the end of Montague Street stands what is considered to be one of the finest provincial cathedrals in Australia.

The Cathedral of St. Saviour was completed in 1884 after ten years of construction in the Gothic Revival style.

Constructed of Bundanoon sandstone, the monument is known for its exquisite tracery, especially on the stunning east window.

There is also a skylight above the nave, and the buttress tower was actually a recent addition, erected in 1988 as a bicentennial project according to original plans. Inside, see hammer-beamed roofs, early English-style clustered columns with foliated capitals, Foster & Andrews’ Organ (1884) in Hull, ornate chancel arches and Detailed engraving on the cathedral (bishop’s seat).

3. Goulburn Railway Heritage Centre

Goulburn Railway Heritage Centre

As soon as the railway reached Goulburn in 1869, it was connected to a station on the southern outskirts of the town.

In 1918, a 42-road roundabout opened here, and this remarkable legacy continues to function, representing the perfect snapshot of the transition between the age of steam and the age of diesel.

The turntable is lined with fascinating cargo and passenger locomotives dating back to the 1884 Vulcan Foundry tank engine. There are steam engines from the Everleigh Railway Workshop and Baldwin Locomotive Works, as well as a variety of other ready rolling stock from top to bottom to board and explore.

For the collection’s interior tracks, take a free tour with one of the expert volunteer guides.

4. Goulburn’s historic waterworks

Goulburn's historic waterworks

In 1885, Goulburn’s first reticulated water supply came from a pumping station next to the Warren Dealey River at Marsden Weir.

Now listed on the National Trust and National Heritage List, the site is intact inside and out, making it the only facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Inside, the Appleby Bros. beam engine pump and its W&J Galloway & Sons boiler are in working order.

You can visit the waterworks from Saturday to Tuesday and see this beam engine in action on select Sundays throughout the year.

In 1866 the stationary steam engine built by Hick, Hargreaves & Co in Bolton was also relocated to the waterworks. Every October, the station is taken over by the Steampunk Victoriana Fair, with live music, dancing and plenty of activities and games, from tea to carriages and penny rides.

5. Rocky Mountain War Memorial and Museum

Rocky Mountain War Memorial and Museum

A Goulburn landmark visible from a distance is the hilltop War Memorial, completed in 1925 to commemorate those who served in World War I.

Standing 20 metres high, the tower has a lookout at the top, offering mesmerizing panoramic views of Goulburn and the mountains on the eastern horizon.

Needless to say, the sunsets here are special.

Gouldburn received a large number of German war trophies in the 1920s, which were displayed first in the basement of the tower and then in the caretaker’s hut next to it.

In 2020, a new cutting-edge museum building doubles the exhibition space.

The many interesting pieces on display include World War I German telephone exchanges, anti-tank rifles, grenade launchers, medical bags, field phones and countless other specialized equipment.

6. Big Merino

big merino

Australia is littered with giant objects known as “Big Things”, the first of which appeared in the 1960s.

These are secondary tourist attractions, usually celebrating local industry or heritage.

So, in a historic pastoral area like Goulburn, the most important thing should be a giant Merino ram.

Completed in 1985, Big Merino is 15.2 meters high and is located at the roundabout command service station off the Hume Highway.

The ground floor of the concrete structure houses a gift shop that sells fine local merino knitwear and showcases the local wool industry.

Also upstairs, you can overlook Goulburn through the ram’s eye, which lights up at night.

After Goulburn was bypassed by the Hume Highway in the 1990s, Big Merino was relocated to its current location in 2007 and the complex lost tourist traffic.

7. Riversdale

riversdale homestead

The first of Goulburn’s many charming old buildings is this Georgian homestead, originally built as a hotel in the 1830s.

The property later became a school, then a residence, and was purchased in 1875 by the Twynam family, which would remain until Riversdale was acquired by the National Trust in 1967. Emily Twynam (1845-1910) lived here with her husband Edward, a talented artist and woodcarver, and Riversdale is still decorated with her picture frames, embroidery and furniture, and retains many of her wildlife painting.

You can visit the main house, outbuildings and gardens, and stop by for a special Devon tea on the third Sunday of the month.

8. Goulburn Court

goulburn court

Walk down stately Montague Street across from Belmore Park and you’ll come to one of the finest courthouse buildings in the state.

Goulburn Court House, the work of government architect James Barnet (1827-1904), was built between 1885 and 1887 in the Victorian Liberty Classical style.

Constructed of a mix of brick and sandstone, the building’s most striking details are its copper dome and beautiful arched portico at the main entrance, flanked by loggias.

This is still a work site, so access is limited, but you can wander around the grounds through the gate.

9. Wollondilly River Walkway

Wolong Dilly River Walk

Goulburn Mulwaree Council has taken great care to open the beautiful green banks of the Wollondilly River to the public.

4km of Goulburn’s river bank, there is a paved track suitable for cycling, between Marsden Weir in the west and Tarlo Street Bridge in the east.

There are plenty of places to rest, enjoy the tranquility and forget that you are only moments away from the city center.

The picnic area has been cleared of vegetation, native plants have been reintroduced and exercise stations have been installed so you can use the walkway as part of your exercise routine.

10. Lansdowne Park

Goulburn’s oldest European property is heritage-listed Lansdown Park, a homestead built between 1822 and 1825. The estate contains a single-story colonial house, ballroom, carriage house, stables, prisoner-built servants’ quarters, synagogue, a prisoner’s prison, and three cabins.

Although smaller than it was two centuries ago, the estate is still used for agriculture, and the synagogue is located in the middle of the vineyards.

Lansdowne Park has been faithfully restored and launched in 2020, but remains open for farm stays and tours.

11. Garroorigang Historic House

Garurigan Historic Home

Not far from the Railroad Heritage Center, this homestead has been preserved for over 160 years.

The Garroorigang Historic Home is not a museum, but a private residence open to the public by the Hume family, whose lineage can be traced back to the 19th century explorer Hamilton Hume.

Originally a hotel on the way to the gold mines, until 1883 the hotel was a luxurious boarding school. Garroorigang retains its exquisite colonial-style furniture and is filled with interesting historical objects, from old student textbooks to 19th-century cookware and antique sports equipment.

The grounds are beautiful, especially the exquisite rose garden with gazebo.

12. Goulburn Regional Art Gallery

art gallery

As a regional city, Goulburn has an institution dedicated to the development of contemporary art in this corner of NSW.

The most important gallery within a 100km radius, it moved into its current purpose-built residence in the Civic Centre in 1990. You can catch the pulse of the region’s art scene in the annual multidisciplinary exhibition series, part of which has environmental themes that resonate with local audiences.

Since the 2000s, many of these exhibitions have continued to attract larger audiences on national tours, while the gallery has held local workshops and programs for schools and adults with disabilities.

13. Bungonia National Park

bongonha national park

For a convenient day trip, the Great Dividing Range, just half an hour’s drive east of Goulburn, is home to a national park with limestone canyons, caves, sinkholes and mountain peaks.

For tens of thousands of years, these ridges have been the travel route of the Ngunawar indigenous people.

There is evidence of Aboriginal campsites in the park, and limestone sinkholes contain edible plants that Ngunnawal has eaten for thousands of years.

The park has about 200 caves, many of which can be explored by experienced cavers.

Some of them are only open seasonally because they are inhabited by large curved-winged bats, a vulnerable species.

Take an unforgettable canyoning adventure along Jerrara and Bungonia Creek, above the latter is the magnificent Lookdown Lookout.

See the majestic Bungonia Slot Canyon in all its glory from Adams Lookout, while for an easy introductory hike through the park’s rainforest and canyon setting, choose the Green Track.

14. Goulburn Wetlands

Goulburn Wetlands

On the Mulvare River, next to the war memorial is a wetland that has been restored over the past few years.

You can traverse the 13.5-hectare site via two walking trails, both featuring interpretive signs about the natural diversity of the space.

The wetlands attract large numbers of waterbirds, from ducks to herons and spoonbills, as well as passerine and non-passerine birds such as goshawks, falcons, kites and parrots.

Bring a pair of binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens and you’ll be able to observe this colorful bird from one of its hides.

There is also a group of eastern grey kangaroos hopping around the site.

15. Goulburn Visitor Information Centre

Visitor Information

The building covered in photovoltaic cells at the base of Montague Street is several things in one.

If you’re in need of souvenirs, the Visitor Information Center is a smart choice, with shops stocked with wool and sheep souvenirs, plus luxury treats and wines from the region.

You have free Wi-Fi and a space to catch your breath and have a cold drink while you camp in the garden at the back (remember the railway is right next to the centre!). In addition to this, you can take advantage of printed information and first-hand advice from the centre staff, who will arrange accommodation and book tours for you.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Goulburn, Australia
Lowest Price Guarantee