Goulburn’s golden boy Tony Lamarra: how an Italian migrant helped shape a city


The former mayor of Goulburn, Tony Lamarra, is the patron of the town’s Lilac Festival. Photo: Facebook.

A week ago millionaire and former Goulburn mayor Tony Lamarra cleaned and washed the airplane hangers he owns at Goulburn Airport.

The week before, he had been seen cleaning the gutters of the Dimmeys building on Auburn Street that he and his wife Adriana had bought in 2020 for $ 5.025 million.

A quick Google search shows several businesses Tony has owned over the decades, and he’s worn many hats, including that of restaurateur in the 1950s and real estate owner and developer.

“I was always looking for something to prove to myself that I was capable of handling something new,” he says. “It was a challenge more than a burden.”

Now Tony’s time is split between maintaining the buildings at Dimmeys, run by Geoff Maguire, and his beloved planes.

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For years Tony has been the center of the community as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. By his own admission, he worked tirelessly with up to 80 committees and was elected mayor of Goulburn between 1984 and 1991.

“Lots and lots of things I started in Goulburn because we were the people who wanted to go to people, not the people who waited for people to come to us,” he says.

Away from his first migration from Italy in 1954, Tony is a well-connected businessman with a history steeped in church, the wool industry, and politics. Politician and businessman, he is used to rubbing shoulders with the rich and the powerful.

Tony is very interested in talking about Goulburn’s future.

“The chef must always watch [for] possibility of bringing into the city because that’s what it is, ”he says.

Tony Lamarra and his wife, Adriana, on a Lilac Festive float

Tony Lamarra and his wife, Adriana, in a Lilac Festive float. Photo: Facebook.

“I saw the potential to do something different. That is why you should always look for a company that improves the city and creates jobs.

“What you do for your town or city, it’s up to you to present it to people to make it attractive for them to come. “

Tony’s lifestyle is balanced by the pleasure of piloting his Cessna 180.

“Flying is a very good sport,” he says. “I went to the airport every weekend with Adriana and took the plane. I sold my plane just over a month ago – it went to Albury. I had a nice plane.

“I don’t steal much anymore so I decided to sell it.”

Austin Cummins of Crookwell taught Tony how to fly in the late 1960s, and to this day praises him “as the best instructor I’ve ever had.”

Tony owned the hangars at Goulburn Airport when they were sold by the local government to businessman John Ferrara in 2011. Years later there would have been a public stalemate as Tony refused to pay an account for taxiing and landing on the runway.

“We used to get over 10,000 landings a year at Goulburn from all over Australia,” he says.

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“It’s a good gesture for the city to come here and buy gas and shop in the city, travel and stay overnight here in motels. Goulburn was getting between $ 2 million and $ 3 million a year for this kind of business.

Earlier in 2021, Crookwell Airfield was put out to tender and Tony recalls a conversation with former Upper Lachlan Shire Council chief executive John Bell.

“At one point, I was thinking of buying it,” he says. “If I was 10 years younger I would look at Crookwell very, very seriously.

“The airport has the greatest value to the city and I can only wish that Crookwell would take the lead, improve it and ask people to come.”

Tony’s dedication to Goulburn is a reflection of his deep feelings towards the city.

“Honestly, there wouldn’t be another place in the world, but I’m a Goulburn fan,” he said.

“There wouldn’t be another place as good as Goulburn, although Crookwell is another beautiful place.

“Country people – we’re just nice people. When you go to other big cities like Sydney or Wollongong, no one knows you and it’s more difficult to befriend people. But people come to Goulburn and they’ve made friendships already.


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