All aboard! The lilac bushes have bloomed and the steam trains are on the right track for a special celebration of spring taking place in Goulburn next weekend.
For most people, the long weekend is a time to get away with family and friends and head interstate, to relax and unwind, but for the Goulburn community, it’s about bringing everyone together and showcasing what the city has to offer.
Two ways of doing so include visiting two of Goulburn’s most iconic events of the year, the annual Goulburn Lilac City Festival and the Streamliners Australia festival, set to be held on Saturday 1 October to Monday 3 October.
Lilac City Festival committee president Carol James said this year would be the first time the annual festival would run since 2019.
“The festival started 71 years ago, and it was started by the then mayor and the Chamber of Commerce as they had said a lot of people during the long weekend of October left town and there was a big exodus as everyone hated to close,” she said.
“They then began thinking of ways to attract people to Goulburn to make the long weekend viable for the businesses and cafes opening that weekend. Following that, a big meeting was then held where they discussed what it was in Goulburn that was attractive during the month of October.
“At this time, the lilac would also grow all along the railway line in Goulburn, and people loved to see it and smell it, so a festival was created to celebrate the lilac as it was a highlight for tourists visiting, and it was also a way to tie the community together.”
Carol said that although the lilac is no longer there due to developments along the railway line, the festival continues.
“It’s been running continuously for so many years, and even through COVID-19 we ran it virtually and had window displays up around town,” she said.
“The last few years of course, [the festival] just struggled to make do and it covers its costs, but it’s a very profitable festival and we try to do whatever we can with the money raised, including holding our annual street parade, the carnival, showcase market stalls and have plenty of activities and events running.
“We just want people to understand that it’s a community festival, it’s not just the committee trying to put on an event. We want everyone to get involved, and it’s a chance for people to dress up and join in on the street parade and decorate their bikes or cars or whatever float they make and have a bit of fun, it’s a really great occasion.”
With more than 3000 people expected to attend from Goulburn and interstate, Carol said there was plenty to see and do at the festival.
“We’ve got the Battle of the Bands competition, which is new this year, and booked out already which is just fantastic,” she said.
“There will be 30 bands involved in that, which are split into two age groups, and the winners will receive $1000 in prizemoney and they will get to be the support act at our Vibes Fest in February next year.
“We will also have between 40 and 50 stallholders attend Belmore Park, the winners will be announced for Lilac King, Queen, Prince and Princess, there’s competitions, carnival rides, a pet parade run by the RSPCA, a puppet show, and there’s the street parade, which is 1970s-themed with great prizes up for grabs.”
Carol said the three-day festival was something Goulburnians looked forward to every year.
“The Goulburn Lilac City Festival is very unique, there’s no other like it,” she said.
“If you’ve got the weekend free and you’ve got your visitors in town, get out and enjoy it. There’s a lot to offer here.
“We always look forward to it and it’s a weekend where we want to get people to come together and have a great time.”
Also taking place over the long weekend is the Streamliners Australia festival.
In 2016, Streamliners Australia brought together 20 classic Australian locomotives to the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre, under the ‘Streamliners 2016’ banner.
Now six years on, Streamliners Australia returns with two dozen locomotives, a fireworks display and shuttle rides running between Goulburn and Tarago across the three days.
Streamliner’s festival organiser, Bernie Baker said he was excited to see Streamliners Australia return.
“The units will be lined up around the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre turntable allowing visitors to get up close and personal and take all the photos they want,” Mr Baker said.
“On the Saturday night there will be fireworks at 8:00 pm.
“During Saturday and Sunday, Lachlan Valley Railway will be running trains from Goulburn to Tarago and return, using an old streamliner and carriages.”
Streamliners Australia will be held on Saturday 1 October from 8 am to 9 pm, Sunday 2 October, 8 am to 5 pm and Monday 3 October, 8 am to 5 pm.
The Lilac Festival will be held from Saturday 1 October to Monday 3 October from 10 am to 5 pm at various locations in Goulburn.
To see the full program of events visit Goulburn Lilac City Festival.