Goulburn’s rail history continues to bring visitors to the city, where repurposed 1935 barracks and a Southern Aurora sleeping carriage are drawcards.
The latest guests in the Railway Barracks on Braidwood Road, New Horizons Band from Sutherland Shire spent two nights there in between performances for Crookwell schoolchildren and Goulburn retirees, and a combined performance with the Hume Conservatorium’s concert band.
Dance schools, not-for-profit groups like the band, universities and wedding parties are hiring the venue, which has accommodation for 44 people in double, twin and bunk bedrooms.
Canberra entrepreneur Mark McEwan, who upgraded the barracks in 2017 and added the stainless steel carriage and entertainment deck, said the quirky venue was all about preserving Goulburn’s railway history. “We want to protect its history; if you look down the hallway there we have sympathetic colours,” he said. “It’s meant to be fun and respectful of the era.”
Mr McEwan has lodged plans for expanding the Railway Barracks with a two-storey high barn at the rear of the platform and train with disabled toilets.
“We are responding to the community’s requirements. People use this as a community space – there are a lot of dance schools because we are priced at that point,” he said. An upcoming dance school will be flying in teachers from Brisbane to teach Latin dancing at the barracks.
Mark plans later stages of upgrades if the venue’s popularity continues. “Eventually we will sell local produce and maybe have a commercial kitchen in the future,” he said. “It’s all about supporting the local Goulburn region.”
He has been unable to get council approval to use the train carriage for accommodation. Adjoining the carriage is a covered pergola from where the entertainment deck begins and winds past ornamental pear trees. The carriage and park-like setting provide a popular backdrop for wedding photos.
“People arranging weddings are trying to do it on such a tight budget, they can’t go anywhere,” Mark said. “But they can afford this place, because they can accommodate their guests here and get the venue for free anyway.”
New Horizons Band’s organiser Belinda Rayment said her grandfather Jack Macauley worked for the railway for 44 years and lived in Goulburn for some of that time. “My mother went to school here for a while,” she said. “When I found this place with a train carriage, there was nothing else I needed,” she said.
“We have 43 of our members on this trip, half are staying here (at the barracks), half are staying in local motels, but we are all gathering here for dinner tomorrow night,” Belinda said.
“This is our seventh trip away. What we look for in a venue is a place for gathering and a kitchen where we can self-cater,” Belinda said. They had a big cook up a week before arriving in Goulburn for ‘a flurry of curries’ for dinner at the barracks, which has a kitchen with two ovens and dining facilities for 50.
“It has that community feel, that gives us that bond and that’s what brings people back again and again,” Belinda said.