17 November 2022

Have ewe herd about this woolly good business opportunity? Sounds like a shear thing

| Sally Hopman
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Rambo - The Big Merino

The gift shop inside the iconic Big Merino at Goulburn, showcasing some of the country’s finest wool products and souvenirs, has just gone on the market. Photo: Supplied.

Australia has been riding high on the sheep’s back since the 1950s, albeit with a few woolly moments along the way, but how about the opportunity of riding high in the sheep’s belly?

Now you have the chance. The gift shop inside one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, the Big Merino at Goulburn, is now on the market. Nicknamed ‘Rambo’ by locals, after a stud ram from nearby property ‘Bullamallita’, the Big Merino has been the place to stop for travellers en route from Sydney to Canberra and Melbourne.

Built in 1985 as a monument to Goulburn and the surrounding district’s fine wool industry, the Big Merino stands at 15.2 metres high and 18 metres long and, at the time of construction, it weighed 97 tonnes. The original idea of brothers Attila and Louis Mokany, it took six months to build with the frame covered and shaped in wire mesh, sprayed and detailed in reinforced concrete.


The Big Merino gift shop, in the belly of the giant Goulburn icon, is on the market. Photo: Supplied.

It has lived a sedentary life for a merino, having moved only once – in 2007 when the Goulburn bypass stranded it in a no-man’s-land part of the city, so it was trekked up the highway 800 metres towards greener pastures near the city’s southern exit.

The move proved productive for Rambo, with the construction inside of the gift shop and a permanent exhibition from the Australian Wool Innovation Limited, showcasing the 200-year history of wool in Australia – although it did increase his weight to more than 100 tonnes.

Selling agent Justin Bunt from MMJ in Wollongong said the gift shop inside the Big Merino had been in the hands of a Yass family for 19 years, but was now looking for a new owner.

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“They wish to entrust this opportunity to a new owner who can appreciate this signficant retail and tourism business prospect.”

He said more than 20,000 vehicles travelled by the adjacent highway daily.

“It is an iconic Australian business,” he said, “and it’s been successful all its life.

“Even when COVD hit, it still managed to survive – its great location is key. It also has great goodwill.”

Gift shop

Outside the Big Merino gift shop at Goulburn. More than 20,000 vehicles pass the site daily. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Bunt said one of the reasons for its success was the calibre of goods it stocked, including an eclectic range of upmarket giftware, cosmetics, souvenirs and accessories. But its top seller, as far as local and visiting overseas buyers was concerned, was the high-end Australian merino wool products, including Australian-made ugg boots, locally hand-dyed gossamer fine wool scarves, merino possum blend scarves, hats, jumpers, jackets, mohair throw rugs and scarves, pet doonas, and medical and baby’s sheepskins.

He said handover training would be provided to the new operators along with a knowledgeable team and excellent growth opportunities.

The gift shop is on the market for $185,000 plus stock, which Mr Bunt estimated at more than $300,000.

The Big Merino itself is privately owned and not for sale.

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