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Hittin' the road - Episode 1: Goulburn

And I also met Frank, the Bull Tractor. You don't want to run into Frank in a darkened paddock. He's big and scary and impressive all at the same time

We at TAFE NSW Social Media really love telling and hearing stories. And we wanted to know more about all the wonderful tales that are happening out there every day in the different TAFE NSW Institutes.

Of course, the best way to find out these stories is to go out there ourselves and find them. Visit the campuses. Talk to the students. Talk to the teachers. See with our own eyes the amazing work that's going on all across our great state.

So we drew straws to see which Institute would be first cab off the rank. Take a bow, Illawarra – you're our lucky guinea pig. And so with my favourite mix tape (that's old school for iPod), I jumped in a car and headed south.

First stop was sunny (but freezing) Goulburn.

The TAFE campus in this delightful inland city sits atop a small rise, giving students and teachers a nice sweeping view of rolling hills and cows. (Okay, just to clarify – the cows aren't rolling). This amazing sense of openness and space is a great environment for studying.

At Goulburn TAFE, Diploma of Horticulture students are studying the Collect & Classify Plants Unit of their course. I met Jose, an international student who's come all the way from Guatemala. The botanical skills he learns here will serve him well back home as Guatemala has about 800 different eucalyptus trees. It's a small number, but someone had to learn how to care for them. And that man is Jose!

Another student I met at Goulburn Campus is Lisa. She' an interesting lady, being co-owner of a free-range pig farm out at Camden. With a steadily increasing awareness among consumers of the welfare of farmed animals, Lisa told me that her farm can barely keep up with the demand for happy, healthy free-range pigs. Not only that, the bloodline of these Berkshire pigs actually dates all the way back to the days of early pioneer John Macarthur.

A critical component of sustainable farming is sustainable property management, which is what Lisa has come to Goulburn Campus to learn more about.

Being a country campus, Goulburn TAFE has a very large Horticultural and Agricultural faculty. It's one of their principal strengths, giving them close ties with industry and the land. Head Teacher of Agriculture, Jillian, was able to explain to me why all my seedlings die in my garden at home. Maybe all I really needed to develop that elusive green thumb was a bit of expert advice.

Oh, yeah. And I also met Frank, the Bull Tractor. You don't want to run into Frank in a darkened paddock. He's big and scary and impressive all at the same time – kinda like a cousin of Thomas the Tank Engine, but on steroids.

Another distinctive feature of Goulburn TAFE is the on-site student accommodation. It's the only TAFE campus in the state that offers this. They can take up to 36 students, which makes it quite attractive for the international student also looking for somewhere to live whilst studying.

As much as I wanted to spend more time with my new friends at Goulburn Campus, the open road was already calling me so I had to jump back into the car and make tracks. On the way out of Goulburn, I stopped to pay homage to the old Goulburn Technical College (the original TAFE). Still standing, tall and stately and ageing ever so gracefully (unlike me).

Next stop, Moruya…