Canberra couple Ann and Michael Poole couldn't get enough of Goulburn on the weekend.
The duo regularly travel to the city for a day out but last weekend they had an extra special reason. The Our Living History Festival offered a feast of entertainment and an insight into what makes Goulburn tick.
The Post met them at Belmore Park enjoying the city's 156th birthday official ceremony and a spot of cake.
"We love Goulburn's buildings, its history and people, who are so friendly, and the whole atmosphere," Mrs Poole said.
The couple took in The Three Musketeers at the Lieder Theatre on Friday night, visited the Rose Festival on Saturday and numerous functions and exhibitions as part of the heritage event.
Goulburn MP Pru Goward was guest of honour on Saturday morning to cut the birthday cake. Mayor Bob Kirk hosted the ceremony, while representatives of the three high schools also spoke.
Ms Goward said the city's significance lay in the strength of its people.
"There are many families here who go back five and six generations...and that tells you about the belief in the city they hold," she said.
Ms Goward said Goulburn was brilliantly located between Sydney and Canberra but was also a great destination in itself.
"It has been a wonderful city to me. I came here in 2006 and I've never met such a wonderfully warm community.
"...I couldn't bear to live anywhere else and I won't be living anywhere else. You will see me around the city until that's no longer possible."
She thanked the community for its friendship and care during her time here.
Goulburn Mulwaree Youth Council Mayor Charlotte Hargan also praised the city's friendliness.
"To me, Goulburn means home. It's about pulling off that exit ramp on the highway at night and seeing its lights, and a complete and utter sense of relief and serenity as you drive in," she said.
But it was also the "lovely, friendly and generous people" who greeted her as she walked down the street.
Goulburn's sense of connection meant everyone looked out for each other.
"We come together in the hard times and we prosper together in the easy times," she said.
Ms Hargan said Goulburn provided young people like herself with opportunities to thrive. She cited Raiders Rugby League captain Jarrod Croker as just one example.
Mulwaree High School student Sam Dunn said the city had allowed him to pursue his passion for the creative arts. He plays in the Goulburn Youth Orchestra.
Goulburn High School student Janice Barry humoured the crowd with fast facts. Goulburn was declared a city 141 years before the iPhone was invented, she said.
Icons like the Big Merino and Rocky Hill resonated.
"Goulburn people reach out to those in need and always leave a light on," she said.
The weekend was packed full, with exhibitions at Gallery on Track and the Mulwaree High Remembrance Museum, tours of Garroorigang, Riversdale and the Waterworks, to name a few. There were also talks, including historian Phil Leighton-Daly's at the library about the Towrang Stockade, which was followed by a tour.
On Saturday afternoon, up to 30 people enjoyed a high tea at the Community Centre. It featured a talk by Canberra woman Elizabeth Burness, who runs the Tuggeranong Schoolhouse Museum.
Her talk, titled The Bottom Drawer or Secret Women's Business, focused on social and women's history, items used in everyday life and some of the quirkier aspects, such as using the bottom drawer of a chest as a baby's cot.
"These are the sorts of things you won't see in a book," Mrs Burness said.
At the Old Brewery, known as Bradley Grange, a production company, Yesterday Stories, shot short films, The Female Hopper Factory and the Miles Franklin Story.
Producer Sandra Pires said people were able to view the three-minute cultural heritage films on their iPhones. Local Lieder Theatre actress Amanda Aitken featured in The Female Hopper Factory while later, Ms Pires interviewed historian and Lieder Theatre stalwart, Jennifer Lamb about Goulburn's first inland city status and history. On Sunday, the company did another short film at The Waterworks.
The overall project is funded by the State Government's Heritage Near Me program.
Ms Pires said she was looking for more Goulburn stories.
"You have a rich history here, with intact buildings and a great group of heritage people," she said.
Her company works in 10 communities. Next week she will conduct workshops for Goulburn's school children.
Interested people can contact Ms Pires at email@example.com or via the Yesterday Stories Facebook page.
The Celebrate Goulburn group organised much of the weekend. Member Cr Carol James said it was important to remind people about Goulburn's greatness and to involve young people.
"We have some pretty talented young people here," she said.
The committee wants to grow the festival in future.
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