Goulburn, New South Wales Explained

Lga:Goulburn Mulwaree Council
Pop:20,127 (2006 Census)

Goulburn is a provincial city in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia in Goulburn Mulwaree Council Local Government Area. It is located 190 km south-west of Sydney on the Hume Highway and 690 metres above sea-level. It has a population of 20,127. It brands itself as "Australia's first inland city", although this is a claim that the city of Bathurst also makes.

Goulburn was named by James Meehan after Henry Goulburn, Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies, and the name was ratified by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. The Aboriginal name for Goulburn is Burbong,[1] a Murring/Wiradjuri word indicating a special Indigenous cultural area.

Goulburn is a railhead on the Main Southern line and service centre for the surrounding pastoral industry and a stopover for those travelling on the Hume Highway. It has a central park and many historic buildings, including old houses near the railway station on Sloane Street and two 19th-century cathedrals. It is home to the Big Merino, the world's largest cement sheep.


The city is situated just off the Hume Highway in southern New South Wales between Mittagong and Yass.


Goulburn has a variable, though generally dry climate with temperatures averaging from 11.4 degree Celsius in July to 27.6 degrees Celsius in January. There are an average of 74.6 days of rain each year providing an average of 640.9mm. [2]

Goulburn does not have more significant water supply problems than other NSW cities or towns. After significant rains in June 2007 there were well above average in November and December 2007 and late 2008.[3] Goulburn's water supply now stands at 59.8% [4] compared with 60.2% for Sydney. [5]

Goulburn is considering the installation of a water pipe, pumping water from the Southern Highlands.


Goulburn is part of the traditional land of the Gandangara people.

The British Government claimed ownership of New South Wales in 1788 (see Mabo v. Queensland) and to hold all of its land as Crown land.


The colonial government made land grants to free settlers such as Hamilton Hume in the Goulburn area from the opening of the area to settlement in about 1820, regardless of the welfare of the indigenous population. Later land was also sold to settlers within the Nineteen Counties, including Argyle County (the Goulburn area).

This process displaced (dispossessed) the local indigenous population and the introduction of exotic livestock drove out a large part of the Aborigines' food supply. The reduction of the food supply and the accidental introduction of exotic diseases, substantially reduced the local indigenous population. Some local Aborigines survived at the Tawonga Billabong Aboriginal Settlement established under the supervision of the Tarago police and there is no conflict recorded from this period. In the 1930s the billabong dried up and the Aboriginal people moved away although some have, over time, made their way back.

The first recorded settler in Goulburn established 'Strathallan' in 1825 (on the site of the present Police Academy) and a town was originally surveyed in 1828, although moved to the present site of the city in 1833 when the surveyor Robert Hoddle laid it out.

George Johnson purchased the first land in the area between 1839 and 1842 and became a central figure in the town's development. He established a branch store with a liquor licence in 1848. By 1841 Goulburn had a population of some 1,200 - a courthouse, police barracks, churches, hospital and post office and was the centre of a great sheep and farming area.

A telegraph station opened in 1862, by which time there were about 1,500 residents, a blacksmith's shop, two hotels, two stores, the telegraph office and a few cottages. The town was a change station (where coach horses were changed) for Cobb & Co by 1855. A police station opened the following year and a school in 1858. Goulburn was proclaimed a town with municipal government in 1859.

Goulburn holds the unique distinction of being proclaimed a City on two occasions. The first, unofficial, proclamation was claimed by virtue of Royal Letters Patent issued by Queen Victoria on 14 March 1863 to establish the Diocese of Goulburn. It was a claim made for ecclesiastical purposes, as it was required by the traditions of the Church of England. The Letters Patent also established St Saviour’s Church as the Cathedral Church of the diocese. This was the last instance in which Letters Patent were used in this manner in the British Empire, as they had been significantly discredited for use in the colonies, and were soon to be declared formally invalid and unenforceable in this context.[6]

Several legal cases [7] over the preceding decade in particular had already established that the monarch had no ecclesiastical jurisdiction in colonies possessing responsible government. This had been granted to NSW in 1856, seven years earlier. The Letters Patent held authority only over those who submitted to it voluntarily, and then only within the context of the Church – it had no legal civil authority or implications. An absolute and retrospective declaration to this effect was made in 1865 in the Colenso Case,[8] by the Judiciary Committee of the Privy Council. However, under the authority of the Crown Lands Act 1884 [9] (48. Vict. No. 18), Goulburn was officially proclaimed a City on 20 March 1885 [10] removing any lingering doubts as to its status.

This often unrecognised controversy has in no way hindered the development of Goulburn as a regional centre, with an impressive court house (completed in 1887) and other public buildings, as a centre for wool selling, and as an industrial town.

The arrival of the railway in 1869, which was opened on 27 May by the Governor Lord Belmore (an event commemorated by Belmore Park in the centre of the city), along with the completion of the line from Sydney to Albury in 1883, was a boon to the city. Later branchlines were constructed to Cooma (opened in 1889) and later extended further to Nimmitabel and then to Bombala, and to Crookwell and Taralga. Goulburn became a major railway centre with a roundhouse[11] and engine servicing facilities and a factory which made pre-fabricated concrete components for signal boxes and station buildings.

Goulburn is a cathedral city. St Saviour's Cathedral, designed by Edmund Thomas Blacket, was completed in 1884 with the tower being added in 1988 to commemorate the Bicentenary of Australia. Though completed in 1884, some earlier burials are in the graveyard adjacent to the Cathedral. St Saviour's is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn. The Church of SS Peter and Paul is the former cathedral for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.


In 1962, Goulburn was the focus of the fight for State Aid to non-Government schools. An education strike was called in response to a demand for the installation of three extra toilets to be installed at a local Catholic Primary School, St Brigid's. The local community closed down all local Catholic primary schools and sent the children to the Government schools. The Catholic church declared they had no money to install the extra toilets. Nearly 1,000 children turned up to be enrolled locally and the state schools were unable to accommodate them. The strike lasted only a week but generated national debate. In 1963 Prime Minister Menzies made State aid for science blocks part of his party's platform.[12]

Buildings in Goulburn

As a major settlement of southern New South Wales, Goulburn was the administrative centre for the region and was the location for important buildings of the district.

The first lock-up in the town was built in 1830.

In 1832 a postal service commenced in Goulburn, four years after the service was adopted in New South Wales.

The first town plan had been drawn up by Assistant Surveyor Dixon in 1828, but the site was moved, as it was subject to flooding. The new town plan was drawn up by Surveyor Hoddle and was gazetted in 1833.

Goulburn's second court house was built in 1847. It was designed by Mortimer Lewis, the Colonial Architect.

James Barnet, the colonial architect from 1862-90 built a number of buildings in Goulburn. These included Goulburn Gaol opened 1884, a replacement court house opened in 1887, and a post office in 1881.

Barnet's successor, Walter Liberty Vernon, was responsible for the first buildings of Kenmore Hospital completed in 1894. St Saviour's Anglican Cathedral and Hall were designed by Edmund Blacket. Building started in 1874 and it was dedicated in 1884. It was finally consecrated in 1916. A tower was added in 1988 as part of a Bicentennial project but Blacket's plans included a spire which is yet to be added.

E.C. Manfred was a prominent local architect responsible for many of the buildings in the city, including the first public swimming baths opened in 1892; the old Town Hall constructed in 1888; the Goulburn Base Hospital designed in 1886; the old Fire Station built in 1890; the Masonic Temple built in 1928; he also designed the earlier building of 1890 it replaced.

New South Wales Police College

See main article: New South Wales Police College.

The Police College relocated to Goulburn from Sydney in 1984. At this time it was known as the New South Wales Police Academy however the name has subsequently changed.

The college has relocated to the former campus of the Goulburn College of Advanced Education located on the banks of the Wollondilly River. The New South Wales Police College is now the largest education institution for law enforcement officers in the southern hemisphere.

Since its relocation there has been significant expansion of the facilities including a new site on the Taralga Road which houses the New South Wales Police School of Traffic and Mobile Policing.

Goulburn Medical Clinic

The Goulburn Medical Clinic was established in 1946 making it the most longstanding medical practice in the city. Historically, it was the first group practice of any size established in New South Wales and probably only the third in Australia.[13] The clinic has a mixture of general practitioners and specialists that provide comprehensive healthcare.[14]

Goulburn Gaol

Goulburn is home to Goulburn Correctional Centre, more generically known as Goulburn Gaol. It is a maximum-security male prison, the highest security prison in Australia and is home to some of the most dangerous, and infamous, prisoners.


Goulburn is the seat of the Goulburn Mulwaree Shire Local Government Area (LGA) of New South Wales, Australia, formed in 2004. The most recent elections for Council were held on the 13th of September 2008.


Goulburn is one hour's drive from Canberra. It has a station on CityRail's Southern Highlands line.

From Oberon it is around 140 km along the mostly sealed Goulburn-Oberon Road.

In 1992, Goulburn was bypassed by the Hume Highway and the main street of Auburn Street is quieter since.

Goulburn has an airport servicing light aircraft.

Radio stations

In some areas, Canberra stations can also be received.

See also


External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Geographical Names register extract. NSW Geographical Names Board www.gnb.nsw.gov.au. 2006-04-30.
  2. Web site: Climate Statistics for Australian Locations. Australian Government Bureau of meteorology. 2009-02-17.
  3. Web site: Rainfall Graph December 2008. 2009-02-17.
  4. Web site: Saving Water, It's up to all of us. pdf.
  5. Web site: New South Wales Government. Water storage and supply report - 12 February 2009. 12 February 2009.
  6. News: Judiciary Committee of the Privy Council. Case of the Bishop of Natal. The Times. 1865-03-21. 14.
  7. Book: Queen v. the Provost of the College of Eton, 1857; Ex parte, the Rev George King, 1861; Long v. the Bishop of Cape Town, 1863; re the Bishop of Natal, 1865.
  8. News: Judiciary Committee of the Privy Council. Case of the Bishop of Natal. The Times. 1865-03-21. 14.
  9. Book: NSW Government Gazette 1884, vol. IV. NSW Government. 1884-10-17. 7107ff.
  10. Book: NSW Government Gazette 1885, vol. I. NSW Government. 1885-03-20.
  11. Goulburn Locomotive Depot - February, 1947 McLeod, A.R. Australian Railway History, December, 2005 pp483-489
  12. Web site: 1997. The Battle for State Aid. Timeframe. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-04-02.
  13. Coombes, B. (1996) A History of the Goulburn Medical Clinic. Australia: Argyle Press ISBN 0-646-29851-8
  14. Coombes, B. (1996) A History of the Goulburn Medical Clinic. Australia: Argyle Press ISBN 0-646-29851-8