Most people visit Goulburn for its history and the serenity of this country town, large enough to be blessed with decent cafes and dining options. Indeed, people who have been to Goulburn may raise an eyebrow on seeing the title of this review and determine that it will be one of my shorter posts.

Goulburn has two (well I should say one and an half) art galleries, a theatre and a small amount of street art worthy a look. While I won’t cover them in this post, every weekend there is a market somewhere in the city and these tend to have an arts and crafts focus. There is also a modern cinema if that be your thing and of course there are lots of pubs and clubs were you can discuss art and culture over your favourite tipple – the temperance movement didn’t get rid of them all – or indeed many of them.

Goulburn Regional Art Gallery

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Goulburn Regional Art Gallery – Entrance at left of picture

This council owned gallery is a regional hub for the presentation of contemporary (modern) art and from its permanent collection and temporary acquisitions it has no problems filling its two relatively small gallery areas.

The Gallery website reads:

‘Our program is big, bold and full of ideas that will provoke conversation and connection to the work of the artists we work with.’

As I find with modern art it will always ‘provoke conversation’ – whether one likes it or not!

Below are a few pictures of pieces on display in the first gallery when I last visited. While pleasant enough they certainly did not blow my mind.

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In the second gallery area there happened to be a photographic exhibition by Michelle Doherty, whom I had never heard of, which was much more to my liking. The subject of the exhibition was the abandoned and largely vandalised St John’s Orphanage (also called Goulburn Boys Orphanage), located not far from the gallery.

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Photos of the abandoned St John’s Orphanage by Michelle Doherty

I had not heard of the Orphanage which operated from 1913 to 1978 (and to 1994 as a Youth with a Mission base) before so the exhibition was a wonderful introduction and provided me an incentive to visit the ruins myself. Such was my excitement (o.k, Dear Reader, strange things excite me) that I went in search of the former orphanage immediately on leaving the Gallery. I will write a seperate post on it at some point.

On the exterior of the gallery there is a wonderful metalwork piece ( by Sebastian Meijbaum, 1998) portraying a three dimensional view, in two dimensions, of a sheep sheering shed, celebrating the region’s primary and lucrative wool industry.

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Opening Hours and entry fee:  Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm and Saturday 12noon – 4pm and closed Sundays and public holidays. There is a small shop on site (no café) and entry is free of charge.

Location: At the Civic Centre on Bourke Street, a short walk across parkland from St Saviour’s Cathedral.

Gallery on Track

This is the ‘half gallery’ I referred to in my introduction. I use this term as it is half gallery, half shop (albeit a not-for-profit shop) in that it displays and sells arts and crafts created by artists and artisans located in the wider Goulburn region.

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Gallery on Track

Just because nearly everything is for sale (with no pressure to buy) should not put you off visiting as when I did there were lots of lovely things here and, naturally, what is on display continually changes as sales are made – or at least that’s the intent. Of course, any purchase you might make helps local artists which cannot be a bad thing.

In addition to the art work there is the added bonus that the gallery building itself is of historic interest, being the former Goulburn Engine Drivers’ Barracks built in 1891. Barracks or rest houses were built by the New South Wales Railway Authorities to provide temporary accommodation to train drivers, firemen and guards between shifts when they could not return home on the same day. This barracks operated as a serviced mini-hotel and was subdivided into twelve rooms. The internal walls have mostly been removed now but the elegant cathedral ceiling of the current gallery was exposed during renovations. The original rooms would have had false ceilings, now gone. In truth I actually visited to see the building, the gallery was the added treat in this instance.

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Gallery on Track

Opening Hours and entry fee: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00am to 4:00pm, closed on Easter Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC Day, and from the 24th of December to the 8th of January. Entry is free of charge.

Location: 2 Blackshaw Road, Goulburn

Street Art

As my regular reader will know I am a big fan of street art and, luckily for me, most places in Australia abound with it. Sadly Goulburn is not one of those places. While there are bits and pieces (smaller works) here and there the only pieces that I have not covered elsewhere in this blog* that really appealed to me were those depicted below, in Russel Lane, off Auburn Street and a stones throw from Belmore Park.

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These pieces are entitled ‘Tree Spirits’ and date from 2015. The suspended figures reminded me of a similar style installation in Sydney’s Chinatown – ‘In Between Two Worlds’. When I went back and checked on the Sydney installation I found that it and this one are indeed by the same artist – Jason Wing, a Sydney man of Aboriginal and Chinese descent. Additionally, in both instances the half human, half spirit figures – inspired by both Chinese and Aboriginal heritage – represent our past, present and future ancestors, and thus earth.

*The two pieces of art covered elsewhere in this blog are:

A large mural at the Mortis Street Pioneer Cemetery

The Caroline Chisholm mosaic on the St Peter and St Paul’s Old Cathedral.

The Lieder Theatre

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Those seeking some live entertainment of an evening should consider a show at the historic Lieder Theatre, noting that it only puts on a limited number of performances each year. Back in 2016 I saw a production of Ole King Cole and was very impressed with both the performance and the interior of the theatre. Alas photography was not permitted within the theatre.

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If you can make a show go a little early so that you can have a look at the original custom-made leadlight windows featuring the Goulburn Liedertafel Lyre and the original wooden music stand, complete with lyre insignia, from which the lieder singing was conducted. The stand is in the foyer where you can also view historic photographic records of the theatre’s productions.

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Lieder Theatre – original custom-made leadlight windows -alas only from the outside

The theatre is home to Australia’s oldest existing theatre company, the Lieder Theatre Company, which was established in 1891.

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The Lieder Theatre, originally called the Liedertafel Hall, was built in 1929 to a design from Manfred and Sons, architect of many of Goulburn’s buildings at that time. Even if you cannot make it to a show or otherwise get inside the building it is still is worth a look from the outside as the exterior has changed very little since 1929.

Location: 52 Goldsmith Street

Goulburn really does have a little something for everyone!


My next Goulburn review– HERE

Return to the beginning of my Goulburn reviews –HERE


11 thoughts on “Art and Culture in Goulburn

  1. Well there you go Albert! I have visited Goulburn on numerous occasion and have never heard of any of these places! Thanks very much for this interesting and informative post, I feel much better about heading to Goulburn next time well prepared 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both galleries look really worth a visit – like you I would have been attracted to the photo exhibition in particular. The Gallery on Track sounds a bit like the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle (https://www.thebiscuitfactory.com/), which displays art and crafts by mainly local artists, most of which is for sale. It’s in a very sympathetically restored Victorian warehouse.

    I also love the Tree Spirits – both for the art work and also the concept behind them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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