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

Goulburn is a small regional city 200km (120 miles) south-west of Sydney, Australia. With a population of 24,000, 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.


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 who 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 amount of things to do and see, and it remains a good stop-off point in between Sydney, Canberra, the Southern Highlands and the South Coast.


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

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

By car

Goulburn is located 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

By bus

By plane

Goulburn Airport is a general aviation airfield approximately 7km south of the city. It is a popular trip from for light aircraft from Sydney. Goulburn Airport, Airport Rd,  +61403368933, fax: +61248226150. fuel and coffee available.

The nearest commercial airport with scheduled passenger services is Canberra Airport, approximately one hour away.

Get around

By foot

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

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

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:


St Saviour's Cathedral dominates Goulburn's skyline

In town

In the area





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.


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.


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.


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


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

Go next

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

Sydneysiders tend to think of Goulburn as being half way to Canberra from Sydney, but it 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 through Goulburn

Sydney Southern Highlands  N  S  Junction Yass Albury

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, January 07, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.