For a number of years before the station was finally opened in 1869, Goulburn had been agitating for a railway link with Sydney. The Sydney Railway Company had been formed in 1849 and the first steam railway in Australia was conceived, designed and built to run between Sydney and Goulburn and so it did, in 1869. Four of the company’s six founding directors were from Goulburn and all had vested interests in getting a train (freight service) to Goulburn up and running.
In addition to providing a much needed transport link, the train overcame the increasing problem of highwaymen robbing stagecoaches which, until the arrival of the train, were the only means of getting goods and people to and from Sydney. As if by way of a last hooray, bushrangers held up the Cobb & Co Coach at Run-O-Waters Creek Hill, just outside Goulburn, on the day before the railway line to Goulburn was officially opened.
On the 12th of May 1868 Mayor William Davies, laid the station’s foundation stone in a very hastily arranged ceremony. He had received only 24 hours notice. I have been unable to determine why the ceremony was so hastily arranged but 24 hours was sufficient to acquire the requisite celebratory drinks as, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of 14 May,
“the company present, including the work-men, proceeded to drink success to the undertaking in champagne, of which a plentiful supply had been provided”.
While the first train steamed into Goulburn on 26 March 1869 carrying the Warwick Cricket Team from Sydney the railway was not officially opened until the 27 May 1869 by the Governor, Lord Belmore, after whose wife the endearing Belmore Park, just across the street, is named. The welcoming address to Lord Belmore expressed the hope
“that the cool and salubrious climate of this neighbourhood will be the means of inducing many of the residents of Sydney to a temporary sojourn amongst us.”
The rather appealing brick building one sees today is little changed from the original 1869 building which was the earliest ‘first class’ station building constructed in New South Wales. Indeed, on laying the foundation stone back in 1869 Mayor Davies predicted that this would be the only railway station ever opened in Goulburn.
For some time Goulburn was the terminus of the Southern Railway Line and quite a business grew to distribute goods further inland to the Riverina district and south to Victoria. The good citizens of Goulburn were very concerned when the line was extended inland to the Riverina in 1881 and later to Melbourne. The practical impacts of the extension were less than the doomsayers, including the Goulburn Penny Post, predicted. In fact Goulburn continued to flourish and became a major railway centre with a roundhouse and engine servicing facilities as well as a factory producing pre-fabricated station and signal box building components.
Goulburn Station remains a stop on the Southern line today. Service details to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and the Southern Highlands can be found at https://transportnsw.info/
On the station platform (Platform 1 – Platforms 2 and 3 are now rarely used) there is an Honour Roll, listing railway employees from the Goulburn area who served in (and a number of whom died) in World War I. It is quite an impressive list for a place the size of Goulburn.
Outside the station is a stone cairn containing documents marking the centenary of the Sydney to Goulburn Railway. The cairn was sealed on 24 May 1969, not to be opened until 24 May 2069. Close-by is a smaller plaque, unveiled in 2005, commemorating the 150th anniversary of rail travel on the Southern Line.
Also in the front yard, until 1994 a goods yard now occupied by the Tourist Office, is an old weighbridge manufactured by SWR Hawke & Co of Kapunda, South Australia. This serves as a reminder of the times when Goulburn was an important freight station on the Southern Line. Freight between Goulburn and Sydney is now carried by road, the relatively short distance (225kms) making rail freight an uneconomic option today.
Location: Sloane Street, Goulburn
My next Goulburn review– HERE
Return to the beginning of my Goulburn reviews –HERE