GOULBURN, just off the Hume Highway, is a large regional centre and home to a quality wool industry, established in the 1820s. The town, with its wide streets, has a conservative country feel, but boasts some large and impressive public buildings.
Goulburn's wool traditions have been immortalized by the Big Merino (daily 8.30am–5.30pm; free), a fifteen-metre-high sheep which stands proudly next to the Mobil service station on the Old Hume Highway 2km southwest of the town centre. To get closer to the real thing and enjoy a glimpse into Australian country life, head for the long-established Pelican Sheep Station on Braidwood Road, 10km south of town (Tel:02/4821 4668, Web:www.pelicansheepstation.com.au; bunkhouses Price: $51-60, cabins Price: $61-75, cottage Price: $76-100, plus camping at $11 per person), where 75-minute tours ($6.50; by appointment only) include a shearing demonstration and the chance to see sheepdogs being put through their paces.
There are several historic places to visit in Goulburn, including the National Trust property Riversdale, an 1840 coaching inn on Maud Street (Sept– May Mon & Tues 9am–1pm, Sun 10am–3pm; Web:www.nsw.nationaltrust.org.au; $5), and the Old Goulburn Brewery on Bungonia Road (daily 11am–5pm; $5.50 including a generous tasting), which has been brewing traditional ales and stouts since 1836.
The Cathedral of Saint Saviour on Church Street (daily 10am–4pm), completed in 1884, is one of the most attractive old churches in Australia, with some beautiful stained glass and a fine organ.
The most intriguing place to stay in the area is at the Gunningbar Yurtfarm, 20km northwest of town on Grabben Gullen Road (Tel:02/4829 2114, Web:www.yurtworks.com.au/yurtfarm). Essentially a sheep property, the several yurts here provide an educational centre for groups of children to help them become more self-sufficient and environmentally aware.
In town, Tattersalls Hotel, 74 Auburn St (Tel:02/4821 3088; dorms $30, rooms Price: under $50), is a hostel offering good and clean, if basic, dorm accommodation and shared-bath rooms. There are also cheapish rooms and swankier heritage rooms at Alpine Heritage Motel, 248 Sloane St (Tel:02/4821 2930, Web:www.alpineheritagemotel.com.au; double Price: $61-75, heritage queen Price: $76-100), in a listed building opposite the train station. There's camping at Governors Hill Carapark, 77 Sydney Rd, 3km northeast of town (Tel:1800 227 373, email@example.com; $28, powered site $32).
The essential Goulburn eating experience is the licensed Paragon Café at 174 Auburn St, which dates back to the 1940s and serves up inexpensive breakfasts, hamburgers, steaks, fish and Italian fare.