“We are famous for our Big Merino”, says Bob Kirk, Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

Rambo is the name of the giant ram – the star attraction in Goulburn. Underneath the 18.4 metre structure is a wool museum, and it is “the most popular tourist attraction” there, he says.

“We’re a regional centre – so there are many outlying towns and villages that rely on Goulburn as its commercial hub for employment, schools [and] medical treatment”, the Mayor says. “We have been a strong agricultural and pastoral area for most of that time, and continue to be.”

GovInsider caught up with the Mayor to find out what his priorities are for Goulburn, and how the council is developing facilities for its residents.

Strategic location

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Goulburn is located between Canberra and Sydney. “We are very accessible by road and rail – so that provides a great attraction and an easy commute for residents” who work in both the major cities.

The Mayor sees this as an opportunity. “Goulburn provides a very convenient rural lifestyle, a residential opportunity for people working in those areas who want to live away from the cities”, he says. “We have a large influx of people coming to Goulburn to live here for that very reason.”

The council has reached out to attract people to relocate to the district, through tourism expos, agricultural shows and through newspaper advertisements – promoting “lower-cost building sites”, hopeful to attract businesses.

Engaging citizens

The council prioritises the need of its residents – gathers their feedback, gauges the feasibility of suggestions, then sets aside a budget to make necessary changes. “We ask our community members to participate in surveys and workshops and they tell what they want to see”, Kirk says. “We generally set up working groups to investigate these ideas, and then they come back to council with recommendations for us.”

Following that, Kirk and his staff prioritised community projects to improve liveability for residents. Among those are upgrade works on a central park and an aquatic centre, and beautification projects that involve planting trees, flowers and setting new pavings. “It’s all about making the place a beautiful place” – one where “everyone wants to work, live and invest.”

Besides this, upgrade works on a historical museum are planned for – building an archival record and storage facility to keep the historical documents, the Mayor says.

Ongoing developments

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The council is currently looking into upgrading its wastewater treatment facilities “to meet the growing population needs”, Kirk notes. They have set aside A$70 million dollars for this, improving on an existing plant that is a century old. “The old facility is at maximum capacity”, and the upgrade will improve “the water quality that is then discharged after the treatment process is completed”, he continues.

The Mayor’s other priorities include planning a 400 seat performing arts centre of the residents, a “redevelopment of the old town hall in the main street”, Kirk says.

Preparing for uncertainty

Goulburn was affected badly by drought a few years back; it “almost ran out of water”, recalls the Mayor. Subsequently, the council then built a 81 kilometre pipeline from the highlands at A$50 million, with help from the federal government. “The day will come when droughts will affect us again, and we are drought proof”, Kirk says. For businesses that “need a reliable source of water”, he says, “we can guarantee that now”.

Kirk and his team are working hard to ensure that citizens needs are met. “My vision is to see our city continue to grow and prosper, and to be an attractive and wonderful place.”

The Big Merino by denisbin, licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0