Goulburn is just over two hours drive from Sydney and about an hour from Canberra. Alas, it is all to often seen as only a convenient rest stop en route from Sydney to anywhere on the southern part of the Australian land mass, though most typically Melbourne, Canberra or Adelaide.
While the city has so much more to offer particularly in terms of its history, laid back lifestyle, decent cafes and general ambience it is appreciated many will not have time to explore it. If that applies to you, I certainly recommend it as an excellent rest stop on your travels. Insofar as stops along the Hume Highway are concerned Goulburn (or rather the southern tip of it abutting the highway – few go the extra couple of kilometres into the city centre) is one of the better ones, given the presence of Trappers Bakery and the Big Merino, in addition to the normal amenities like fuel, fast food (including McDonalds and Coles Express ) and toilets that one finds at most highway stopovers.
In my view this is the best bakery style food outlet, without a significant deviation from the highway, between Sydney and Canberra and indeed between Sydney and Melbourne.
It is rare that I would not stop here for breakfast, or at least a coffee, when going down to Sydney.
The food is excellent (both in range and in taste) and the coffee is good. Service is of a high standard and it is reasonably priced.
As I am normally here by 7 am I generally eat inside, though there is an outdoor sheltered verandah, as even in summer Goulburn can be a bit nippy at this time of day. In winter they usually have a big log fire going making it difficult to leave.
The only downside of being as popular as it is is that queues can build up at busy times. Unlike all the other stops between Sydney and Canberra this is the only one where the local food outlet does a much better business than the various international fast food alternatives that have mushroomed along Australia’s highways.
The bakery cafe is open from 5.30am to 7pm daily (8pm on Fridays and Sundays). http://trappersbakery.com.au/
The Big Merino
Across the street from Trapper’s bakery (well, you will see it long before you see Trapper’s Bakery) is The Big Merino.
The Big Merino (nick-named Rambo) is a 15-metre tall, 18 metres long, 97 tonnes, hollow concrete merino ram, modelled on a stud ram from ‘Bullamallita’, a local farming property.
Not much to say about this symbol of Goulburn except for the fact that it is Big and I like it. Writing that sentence reminded me of Bean the movie and the scene where Bean gave his artistic critique on the painting – Whistler’s Mother.
Australia is famous for its ‘Big Things’ which could, often at a stretch, be described as sculptures and Australian Art. Big Things can be found right across the country and number around 150, with a number of them being heritage listed!
These Big Things have become something of a cult phenomenon and people create whole trips around them with the aim of visiting as many as possible. I’ve seen quite a few but have certainly not planned a trip around them (yet!). You can find a list of Big things at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia%27s_big_things
The Big Merino was constructed in 1985 and was moved (‘the BIG move’) to its current location by the Hume Highway in 2007 – as its former home was bypassed by the new highway a few years earlier leaving it isolated and feeling unloved.
The Big Merino celebrates the Goulburn region’s success in the wool industry, from early colonial days right up to present times.
Australian Wool Innovations has a permanent exhibition on the 200 Year History of Wool in Australia inside the base of the giant ram. There is also a gift shop on-site selling the usual array of imported ‘Australian’ souvenir’s together with good quality locally produced wool products. You can also procure a video of the BIG move of Rambo across town here. No I havn’t got one!
Don’t forget to climb up inside to the ram’s head to partake of the not so spectacular view from either of Rambo’s eyes – a sheep’s eye view, if you like.
And only in Australia…..
……….a temporary addition for the excellent cause of raising awareness of testicular and prostrate cancer.
Opening hours: Shop and exhibition open 9am to 5pm 7 days. Closed Christmas Day. You can, of course, see the Big Merino any time of the day or night (when it and its eyes are lit up). https://www.bigmerino.com.au/
My next Goulburn review– HERE
Return to the beginning of my Goulburn reviews –HERE