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FOR many Australians the full extent of their knowledge of Goulburn is as the home of the Big Merino. And while Rambo, as he is affectionately called by locals, is impressive, there are even more intriguing stories to uncover about the regional city.
Proud and unique, the history of Goulburn is alive and ripe for discovery during March 9 to 12 at the Our Living History Festival.
The festival gives an all-access pass to some of the unexplored parts of town not usually open to the public.
Visitors can uncover the stories of women's history, a steam-driven waterworks, railways, the under croft of cathedrals, historic homes and archaeology, even a long lunch in a woolshed.
"History is still living in Goulburn – these historic places are still alive with a fascinating experience to offer,” festival co-ordinator, Laraine Hoy-Whitehouse said.
“The festival tour guides really bring the people of the past to life.”
Five of the best things to do this Living History Festival in Goulburn
1. An industrial history you never knew
Ahead of its time, in the 1880s Goulburn was one of the first regional centres to supply piped drinking water to its residents.
The Goulburn Historic Waterworks has remained intact with a pump-house and working steam beam engine. See it in its idyllic location set on the banks of the Wollondilly River.
This rare facility is the only complete, steam powered municipal water supply left in its original location in the Southern Hemisphere.
The buildings and engine are of national significance and are now protected by a permanent conservation order.
Or check out the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre which operates a working Roundhouse complete with heritage locomotives (steam and diesel), rolling stock and railway ephemera.
2. Reimagine life in 1800s Australia at Garroorigang
A big part of Goulburn's early history and still fascinating today, Garroorigang offers visitors the rare opportunity to take a tour through a lived in family home, continuously occupied for 160 years.
Step back in time as you wonder at the homes original colonial and Victorian furnishings, still in use today and the family's dresses and clothes from the Victorian era.
Hear the history and stories behind the homestead as well as its people and fascinating contents.
Built in 1857, the homestead was briefly an inn for those off to the goldfields many having used the huge iron hand-pump which still stands over the well outside the stables.
Reminisce in the magnificent Victorian drawing room which was once the bar where Ben Hall and his gang ate drank and left without paying.
3. A fitting tribute
War memorials are incredible places of history and moving tributes to generations past.
Opened in 1925, Goulburn War Memorial is no exception. The majestic and formidable memorial is a square tower of stone conglomerate and concrete standing 20 metres high, with Rocky Hill a natural pedestal.
Dedicated to those who enlisted from the district, inside the tower is a tablet inscribed with their names.
A trip to the memorial is worth it just for the lookout gallery at the top which gives unparalleled views of Goulburn and districts.
Walk next door to a cottage which houses a valuable collection of WW1 artefacts including weapons, soldier’s personal items, memorabilia and medals.
The local history room displays Goulburn's association with, and contribution to, the two world wars. Each object tells a unique story of survival, mateship and the history of warfare – not to be missed.
4. A sweet smelling change of pace
The surprises keep coming with this town. Who knew this inland city known for its pastoral past is also a place roses grow?
Goulburn Rose Festival is a showcase for roses of the area including the City of Goulburn Rose. Thousands of named roses will be on display and there is a keenly contested competition in which anyone can enter roses for judging.
Now at the new and larger venue – the Veolia Arena – you can marvel at the huge displays, delight in the scented blooms, enjoy the rose and floral art competition, art exhibition and stalls.
5. A good cause, art and a damn fine long lunch
If you really want to soak in the atmosphere of this regional city and treat yourself at the same time why not consider Art in the Woolshed's inaugural long lunch?
The award winning Harvest Restaurant will prepare the magnificent feast that will be accompanied by wine and a selection of local produce.
Organised and run by the Country Education Foundation Goulburn and District, the lunch raises money to support and further the education of young people in the Southern Tablelands.
Such a good cause will make this indulgence totally guilt-free.
The festival combines numerous free experiences as well as ticketed events.
For more information visit www.ourlivinghistory.com.au or follow the festival on Facebook.
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