Getting old gracefully – a celebration 

OKAY – so there is a lot of hoo-ha about Goulburn’s 150th birthday which is coming up. 

But as Roger Bayley’s entertaining history column reveals - Goulburn is actually way older than that – with settlement dating back to the 1820s - when the original town was sighted at a bend in the Wollondilly River near the current location of Goulburn Jail.

He tells us that the 1828 Census recorded about 10 people living there and a map from 1829 shows four residential blocks, a mounted police garrison and an Inn. So that really makes the city about 190 years old – way older than 150.

By the 1850s Goulburn was already a thriving place with substantial buildings including a court house, Cobb and Co Coach house, police station, a main street with a plenty of shops as well as a Market Square and a newspaper, The Goulburn Herald.

The city had already had its “sensational” murders and fair share of bushranging activity around its fringes. Gold Fever was upon NSW and towns like Goulburn were thriving as thousands of people passed through.

The 1863 date that has been taken to celebrate the 150th birthday of the city refers to the proclamation from Queen Victoria that Goulburn was a city - basically because we had a Cathedral.

Well thanks Queen Vic but we were already well-established before we got the Royal seal of approval thanks.

So yes it is good to be celebrating how old this city is - but it is a bit like celebrating your kid’s 10th birthday – when you really know they are 18.

One good thing about celebrating how old Goulburn is though – is that it draws attention once again to the heritage and history of the place.

Yes, it is a unique city with an amazing array of heritage gems on offer, but we need to ensure their protection for the future and be evervigilant against developers looking to knock down these buildings and rip up these streets for the short-term gain and the promise of a few jobs.

I am glad about the recent halt of the plans by Big W to close off Verner St and erect another shopping centre that the city basically doesn’t need.

I am also buoyed by the decision not to knock down the beautiful terrace building next to Magnet Mart in Sloane St.

These are moves in the right direction and signs that developers may be finally getting the message - stop tearing it all down! Let’s hold onto our heritage. It is part of what makes this city unique and part of what will make it profitable in the future.

I see the old Connolly’s flour mills buildings (former Goulburn Furniture Warehouse) are up for sale.

I hope whoever buys this building will do something imaginative and sympathetic with it and respect the beauty and grandeur of the buildings


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