I have written a number of posts on individual buildings in Goulburn.

This post is a compendium review on a number of other civic and privately constructed buildings in the city that I find particularly interesting. It is by no means intended to be fully inclusive and there are many other beautiful buildings for the visitor to explore on their own account – the statuary in my main picture above adorns one such building, the former Australian Mutual Provident Society on Auburn Street. The centre of the city is small so just park your vehicle and go for a wander.

As I have said, or alluded to, numerous times in this blog Goulburn is awash with civic, ecclesiastical and privately built historic buildings with the vast majority of these having been constructed between 1830 (when Goulburn was a tiny village) and 1918. It was during this period that Goulburn grew from nothing into a very wealthy regional town and then city. This wealth came from the land – a combination of the wool industry and gold mining. The arrival of the railway in 1869 further opened up the city and enhanced its affluence. Things changed with the arrival of WWI and I will briefly touch on this below when I tell you about one of the few building constructed in the interwar years.

Ok so with that in mind …….

Goulburn Post Office

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This grand building’s Victorian Italianate style is in keeping with the Courthouse and other civic buildings designed by the colonial (government) architect of the day, James Barnet. The building was constructed in 1881 by builder, F.Horn.

The Post Office was fully restored in 2012, in time for Goulburn’s 150th birthday in 2013, and is now looking great with a clock that shows the right time – something of a rarity in older buildings nowadays.

By way of background, Goulburn’s first postmaster was appointed in 1832 when mail was delivered by mounted police from Bong Bong, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Sydney once a week. Mail from Melbourne didn’t commence until 1839 and then only on a fortnightly basis. By 1863 mail to Sydney was leaving daily except Sundays. The steady increase in business and the prosperity of the city made a larger post office building necessary and such was the reason for building the this post office in 1881.

Location: 165 Auburn Street
Directions: Around the corner from Belmore Park

Former Town Hall

Next door to the Post Office is Goulburn’s former Town Hall which also served as a venue for public events. It is one of EC Manfred’s* designs and one in which he ventures away from his more subdued style. It is rightly seen by many as the architect’s finest achievement and like his other buildings it reflects the sense of prosperity, pride and confidence that pervaded colonial society at the time.

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Classified as in a Federation Anglo/Dutch / Classical Revival style with Flemish influence, the building was opened in 1889. The 1887 date on the building reflects the year in which construction commenced. Of particular note, on the façade, is the prominent Dutch gable with its semicircular pediment and shell motif.

*Edward Cooper Manfred was an extremely successfully Goulburn architect who designed many of the city’s finest old buildings -including the Town Hall, the hospital, the fire station, the original Public Baths, department stores and shops, and grand villas and workers houses.

Location: 163 Auburn Street

Roger’s (Dimmey’s) Building

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Across from Belmore Park, on the intersection of Auburn and Montaque Streets is the Roger’s Building, originally a large emporium built for Jones & Co, now home to Dimmey’s and Harvey Norman. The Edwardian facade with its distinctive fan shaped windows and corner tower was designed by EC Manfred and expressed the confidence and energy of a successful city business when it was built in 1853. The incorporation of the tower was lauded as an excellent example of how buildings could be designed to turn a corner and be kept looking attractive from both streets.

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The building was taken over by Charles Rogers in 1901 when it became the Great Southern Emporium.

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At the time Rogers was heavily criticised for trying to concentrate all the business of Goulburn into his own hands and get rid of competing small businesses – so nothing changes and I can imagine that when Harvey Norman and Dimmey’s, both larger non-local businesses, moved in in later years similar accusations would have been levelled against them.

Location: On the intersection of Auburn and Montaque Streets

Elmslea Chambers

I was rather surprised when I came across this building. As indicated above, the period between 1830 and 1918 saw many grand (beyond what one would have expected to see for a country town of way less than 10,000) buildings constructed, fuelled and paid for by an agricultural, and to less extent mining, boom in the region.

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The first half of the 1900s saw two world wars separated by the Great Depression and Australia was not immune from the impact of these world events. Country towns were hardest hit as post-war recovery primarily focused on the larger cities. For Goulburn there was very little construction between 1918 and 1950 and what came after that lacks aesthetic appeal for me.

This building stands out as an exception to the dearth of construction activity between World War I and the 1950s.

Elmslea Chambers was built in 1935-36 at the end of the Great Depression – perhaps in the expectation of boom times ahead or just as a celebration of its owners flamboyant personality. The building was designed by LP Burns and built as trading premises for Frank Leahy, a wealthy pastoralist and stock (as in animals) dealer.

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The totally out of place, for Goulburn, Art Deco/ Rococo- façade in multicoloured terracotta incorporates four pilasters faced with pink marble topped by Corinthian capitals and rosettes. Above the entrance, in baked ceramic tiles, is a ram’s head set against a typical Art Deco sunburst. The ram’s head conveys the line of business and source of wealth of Leahy and is flanked by paired ibises in stylised flowers. The whole building actually looks very Egyptian to me.

The building is now the offices of an accounting firm and not open to the pubic but it is certainly worthy a look from the outside.

Location: 17 Montague Street

The Old Fire Station and adjoining solicitor’s office

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The Old Fire Station is another classical EC Manfred design and was built in 1890. Perfectly symmetrical, the main thing to note here is original bell tower on the roof of the building. As the British made bell weighed some 750 pounds Manfred was taking no chances of it being blown away in a gust of wind or causing the tower to collapse due to its vibration on ringing so the canopy, to which it was attached, is anchored to the roof by 12 cast iron supports.

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If you look carefully you will see that the bell is no longer in the tower, it having been (permanently?) loaned to St Nicholas’ Church in North Goulburn, where I can confirm it is securely fastened to a separate tower to the side of the church.

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It is satisfying to see that the bell, no longer required in the now re-purposed fire station, has been loaned to a church given that prior to it being allocated to the fire station it had been earmarked for two churches both of which, ironically, burned down before delivery of the bell.

Another thing worthy of note is the mock stone cement rendering on the ground floor wall which was against Manfred’s wishes. It goes to show that sometimes the paying client can get their way with architects!

Adjoining the fire station is another attractive old building which was built in 1902 for AM Betts, Solicitors. Mr Betts was, at the time of his death in 1924, New South Wales’ oldest living and practising solicitor, aged 80.

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Location: 7 – 9 Montague Street

Goulburn’s Historic Hotels and Watering Holes

By the late 1800s, when various temperance societies started a campaign to reduce the consumption of alcohol in the city, Goulburn had around 74 drinking establishments. I am not sure how many there are today – a bit less than that for sure – but a number of 19th century establishments remain and these include:

The Hibernian Hotel which was first licensed in 1850  was one of the city’s first hotels. It closed between 1870 and 1880 when Dr William Hayley took it over as his dispensary and consulting rooms. It was converted back to a hotel and pub in 1880 and has remained so since. It is now known for its spicy ‘Hibo Hero Burger’.

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Location: 145 Auburn Street

Mandelson’s Hotel

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Built in 1836 and originally known as The Goulburn Hotel, Mandelson’s quickly developed a reputation for ‘excellence in hospitality’ and was considered the best hotel in New South Wales outside of Sydney and up there with the best in Sydney. Although no longer functioning as a pub, the building has been restored to its former architectural glory and maintains the high standard of hospitality as a luxury B&B.

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Nathan Mandelson, who took over and renamed the hotel in 1840, was a substantial shareholder in a company that sought to build a private railway between Sydney and Goulburn in the late 1840s. His work with the Sydney Railway Committee has been recognised as a major driving force in getting the railway to expand out of the Sydney Metropolitan area. Mandelson’s dream became reality in 1869 when the Sydney – Goulburn, albeit Government owned, line opened.

In addition to running the hotel and his interest in getting the railway to Goulburn, Mandelson was involved in the promotion of gold prospecting and horse-racing, in stopping convict transportation and (pre train) the provision of a high quality horse coach service to Sydney for ‘lovers of speed and comfort’. Additionally he set up ‘the best stables in town’ for his guests and customers and in 1858 offered his guests and others the ability to send telegrams from the office of the Electric Telegraph, located in the hotel. The following year Mandelson’s was the first hotel in Goulburn to install gas lighting in its guest accommodation.

Location: 160 Sloan Street

Southern Railway Hotel

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Once the railway arrived in Goulburn it was inevitable that hotels and other forms of accommodation would grow up around it.

One of these railway inspired purveyors of accommodation (and liquid refreshment) was ‘Clifford’s Hotel’, established by James Clifford in 1872. Since then the hotel has changed name a number of times with one of the names being that appearing on the building to this day – ‘The Coolavin Hotel’ – notwithstanding that in 2016 the hotel became ‘The Southern Railway Hotel’. Despite multiple name changes the hotel has retained much of its original character including the balcony which is also one of the few original balconies still remaining in the city.

Today, as it has always done, the hotel offers budget accommodation and it is the only hotel in the city that I have actually spent a night in. As noted elsewhere I live in Canberra, around an hours drive from Goulburn so generally have no cause to stay here. I highly recommend the hotel for clean, if basic, accommodation. I can also vouch for the bar in which I forgot to take a photograph!

Location: 188 Sloane Street


My next Goulburn review– HERE

Return to the beginning of my Goulburn reviews –HERE


10 thoughts on “Other Civic and Private Buildings in Goulburn

  1. Hume & Hovell
    I have had on loan from the ACT Library : Currency Lad by R.H. Webster and it includes information on Hovell of Hume& Hovell who sailed to NZ in 1815 to get needed flax for the Colony.
    Trove shows an advert on 20 Mar 1930 in the Hobart Town Courier wanting to buy NZ flax from anyone.
    Webster wrote of Hovell retirement and looking inland.
    Not quite on topic but % related, maybe. Thanks for your endeavours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate being a pedant. Aust. Mutual Prov. Society, AMP, yeah, the same one.
    The then big competition for AMP was the MLC; which had the the tallest, most prominent building in each State Capital with a weather tower on each; was at 203 Auburn in an old nondescript bank building.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A fascinating architectural tour, Albert. I love the different styles of building and their stories – I particularly love the quirky blaze of colour that is Elmslea Chambers. It’s little wonder that it took you by surprise. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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