The Riverina region of New South Wales is known for its foods and natural areas.
Willandra National Park
19,400ha.The old Willandra sheep station was declared a National Park in 1972. The area was first settled in the mid 19th C, and in 1912 one of the largest merino farms in Australia, with over 90,000 sheep, was established here. The old homestead (farmhouse) has been preserved as an interesting museum (stables, sheep-shearing huts). It stands on the shores of the Willandra billabong (waterhole), which marks the northern boundary of the park and extends from the Lachane River in the east to an expanse of marshland in the west.A road runs over the plain from the old homestead and circles round to return along the shores of the billabong. In the early morning and late afternoon large numbers of animals can be seen by driving slowly round the road.
Griffith (pop. 13,190) is the main center in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and accordingly has had a rapid development. It was designed by Walter Burley Griffin, architect of Canberra, and named after Sir Arthur Griffith, first minister of public works in the New South Wales government. Agriculture is practiced on an industrial scale (rice, citrus fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry).On the northern edge of the town is the Pioneer Park Museum, an open-air museum, with 25 buildings of the late 19th C and early 20th C.
Cocoparra National Park
8356ha.The park (established in 1969) takes in an area of low hills in a plain with deep depressions (e.g. the narrow Ladysmith Glen). The vegetation consists of cypresses, dry sclerophyllous (hard-leaved) forest and a variety of wattles and wild flowers.The Riverina area was first explored by John Oxley in 1817. The Witton Stock Route along the western boundary of the park was traveled by coaches in the 19th C.
Address: Barry Scenic Drive & Myall Park Road, Griffith, NSW 2680, Australia
Useful tips: Access from Griffith via Yenda and on the Barry Scenic Drive to the south through the National Park to Binya or Rankin Springs. Alternatively the park can be reached on the old (easily negotiable) Whitton Stock Route along its western boundary. No drinking water.
Gundagai (pop. 2310) is on the Murrumbidgee River and is featured in many songs and poems. The name of the little town is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'upstream'. The first settlement on the site was destroyed by a flood in 1852 in which 89 people died - a third of the population. The local Aborigines had warned that the river sometimes suddenly burst its banks, but their warning was not heeded. Between 1860 and 1890 the town went through the turmoil of the gold rush and raids by bushrangers. The main products of the area are wool, wheat, fruit and vegetables.On Hume Highway is a popular picnic area where Hume and Hovell, Mitchell and Sturt rested on their expeditions. For more than 100 years all the traffic on the Hume Highway went over a 900 m long timber viaduct, Australia's longest wooden bridge. It is now closed to motor traffic and has been replaced by an 1100 m long concrete causeway.There are a number of old buildings in Sheridan Street (hotel, bank, courthouse, St Patrick's Church). The Gabriel Gallery has an excellent collection of late 19th C photographs.There is an interesting historical museum in Homer Street.
8km north of Gundagai at Snake Gully, on Five Mile Creek, is the Dog on the Tucker Box monument, commemorating pioneer teamsters and their dogs. The monument was the work of Frank Rusconis, who also made the marble model of a cathedral in the tourist information office in Gundagai. On the other side of the highway are copper statues of two favorite folk characters, Dad and Dave.From the Mount Parnassus Lookout there are good views of Gundagai and the surrounding area.
Leeton (pop. 6,600) is the first of the planned towns in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (1912), was designed by Walter Burley Griffin who made his name as one of the architects of Canberra. The town's economy depends on the intensive culture of fruit, rice and grapes, a fruit cannery and a juice factory (open to visitors).In the town center there are still a few attractive art deco buildings, including the Roxy Theatre and the Hydro Hotel built in 1919.
Near Leeton are a fruit juice plant and a rice mill which may be visited. 9km northwest of Leeton is Koonadan Historic Site, home of the Wiradjuri tribe of Aborigines.
Wagga Wagga, Australia
Wagga Wagga is the largest town in the Riverina area. It is a major center for industry, commerce, education and agriculture. The first settlement was established around 1832.In Fitzmaurice Street are the Historical Museum (just off Lord Baden Powell Drive), the Courthouse (1900), with a tower, the post office (1886-8), the CBC Bank (1885) and two 19th C churches, St Andrew's and St Michael's. There are also a botanic garden, a zoo and a college.
Around Wagga Wagga are two important military bases and the Charles Sturt University. Within easy reach is the historic old gold-mining town of Adelong.
Narrandera (pop. 5000), one of the oldest settlements in the Riverina area, lies at the junction of the Newell and Sturt Highways.The town has been declared an urban conservation area by the National Trust on account of its many 19th C buildings. There is a monument to Charles Sturt, who camped here in 1826 on his journey to Lake Alexandrina in South Australia.
Adelong (pop. 890) is a little town in the southern highlands on the Snowy Mountains Highway which dates from gold rush times. In the mid 19th C there were some 29,000 gold-miners here, producing around 200 metric tons of gold (Golden Gully).Visitors can still fossick for gold here.
At Adelong Falls, 2km north on the road to Gundagai from Adelong, are attractive picnic areas and ruins of buildings of the gold rush period.
The old buildings on the main street (Bank of New South Wales, Old Pharmacy) of Adelong are protected as national monuments.
Tumbarumba (pop. 1600), an old gold-mining settlement, lies in the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains.Tumbarumba is a good base for day trips to the Snowy Mountains and the winter sports area on Mount Selwyn. In this beautiful mountain country there are attractive walking trails and bridle paths and good fishing.
Tumut (pop. 6300) is in a spectacular mountain setting which takes on brilliant coloring in autumn. There are extensive state forests in the area in which timber is felled for the sawmills.
To the south of Tumut is Blowering Lake (water sports, fishing), created by a dam on the Tumut River built under the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme to store water for irrigation in the Murrumbidgee valley.
At the Yarrangobilly Caves there are something like 60 caves, but only four are open to the public. An additional attraction is a pool of mineral water which is warm all year.