NEW MEETS OLD ESCAPE THE CITY WITH A GOULBURN TRIP
GOULBURN is far more than the Big Merino.
The regional NSW town boasts a rich history, cosmopolitan culture and good old country charm.
Drive into the heart of town via two-century-old buildings and it may seem this town is all about its colonial past.
But arrive at the visitor information centre, and you’ll be greeted with a Tesla charging centre; ten plugs ready to reboot what is perhaps the snazziest electric car on the market.
Goulburn is all about new meets old. Buildings dating back to the mid-1800s poke their heads out through coffee shops, chemists and chain stores.
Next to the Victorian Italianate-style courthouse is a trendy cafe full of salads, muffins and frittatas that would look at home in Sydney’s hottest new hangout.
Belmore Park in the Goulburn CBD is a spray of cleancut lawns, perfected garden beds, a playground and walking paths. It’s a picture of modern horticulture, yet in 1833 this tranquil reserve was a bustling market square, a hubbub of merchants selling livestock and produce as children ran foot races through the crowds.
Soaring above the city is St Saviour’s Cathedral – a white sandstone princess and one of Australia’s most beautiful gothic churches. The building dates back to 1884 and has a grand interior complete with pointed arches, stained glass windows and a glittering organ which is played every Sunday.
Then there’s the art deco-restored Penny Post building, the old fire station, the gaudy Elmslea chambers once owned by extroverted pastoralist Frank Leahy, and Mandelson’s of Goulburn, the town’s main hotel.
One of Goulburn’s premiere restaurants, 98 Chairs, offers a taste of this city’s cosmopolitan vibe, boasting a refined menu featuring local seasonal ingredients.
On a Saturday night it welcomes a crowd of families and young, hip locals.
Mushroom arancini are delicious spheres of rich risotto – the outside crispy, with a melt-in-your-mouth creamy interior.
The aged scotch fillet steak is a popular option for a reason – it’s medium rare and tender. Vegetables are steamed to just the right crunch-to-softness ratio and the dish is finished with a tangy salsa verde and a star ingredient: fried capers.
A side of fried cauliflower with spiced almonds, cranberries and mint is a dish to make middle eastern chef Yotam Ottolenghi proud.
Goulburn’s Best Western motel is a comfortable stay. The two-bedroom apartment is double storey and spacious with three TVs.
Along with a bar fridge there is a full-sized one in the kitchen with everything you need if you want to eat in.
Riversdale Homestead is Goulburn’s golden national trust building. Built in 1828, it marks the original site for the township of Goulburn Plains before Governor Bourke moved the town two miles south in 1832.
The house is furnished as a colonial Georgian cottage. It was home to several families but originally began as an inn, with a brief period as a boys school.
One Sunday every year, Riversdale hosts a growers and rare plants fair in its flowering gardens.
There are hundreds of species to admire as well as wine and cider tasting and cakes and scones for morning and afternoon tea. Local chutneys and jams are on sale for just $4, with the zucchini relish a top pick.
A weekend in Goulburn is not the most exotic break, but it’s a great way to get out of the hustle and bustle and experience a slice of Australia’s colonial past.
St Saviours Cathedral dates back to 1884.
Riversdale Homestead is a historic inn set amongst flowering gardens.