Goulburn is a regional city in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. It is located approximately south-west of Sydney, Australia, and north-east of Canberra. Goulburn brands itself as "Australia's first inland city", although this is a claim that the city of Bathurst also makes, As of Census night 2011, Goulburn had a population of 21,484 people. Goulburn is the seat of Goulburn Mulwaree Council.
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. It is also home to the Big Merino, the world's largest concrete sheep.
Goulburn was named by surveyor 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, a Murring/Wiradjuri word indicating a special Indigenous cultural area.
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. Land was later sold to settlers within the Nineteen Counties, including Argyle County (the Goulburn area). The process displaced the local indigenous Gandangara 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. In the 1930s the local 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. Several legal cases 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, by the Judiciary Committee of the Privy Council. However, under the authority of the Crown Lands Act 1884 (48. Vict. No. 18), Goulburn was officially proclaimed a City on 20 March 1885 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 and engine servicing facilities and a factory which made pre-fabricated concrete components for signal boxes and station buildings. The roundhouse is now a railway museum with steam,diesel and rolling stock exhibits.
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 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.
The Goulburn Viaduct was built in 1915 replacing an earlier structure. This brick arch railway viaduct spanning the Mulwaree Ponds is the longest on the Main Southern Railway Line and consists of 13 arches each spanning 13.1 metres.
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 installation of three extra toilets at a local Catholic primary school, St Brigid's. The local Catholic archdiocese closed down all local Catholic primary schools and sent the children to the government schools. The Catholic authorities declared that 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 the prime minister, Robert Menzies, made state aid for science blocks part of his party's platform.