Postcode: 2680 | Distance to
568 km | Established:
14th August 1916
Griffith is a city in south-western New South Wales. It is also
the seat of the City of Griffith local government area. Like the
Australian capital, Canberra and the nearby town of Leeton,
Griffith was designed by Walter Burley Griffin. Griffith was
named after Sir Arthur Griffith the first New South Wales
minister of Public Works. Griffith was proclaimed a city in
1987, and presently has a population of 16,182.
It can be accessed by road from Sydney and Canberra via the Hume
Highway and the Burley Griffin Way and from Melbourne via the
Newell Highway and either by using the Kidman Way or the
Irrigation Way. The city of Griffith had contained no
traffic lights up until February 2010 when the first set of
traffic lights were installed at the intersection of Burrell
Place and Wakaden Street.
At the 2006 Census, 16,182 persons declared the
urban centre locality of Griffith as their usual place of
residence. Of this number 13,949 were Australian citizens. The
median age was 34, and the average household size was 2.6
members. 2,857 persons were born overseas, of which 942
persons were born in Italy and 357 persons were born in India.
28% of persons declared themselves being of Australian ancestry,
19% English ancestry, 18% Italian ancestry, 6% Irish ancestry
and 5% Scottish ancestry. Respondents could nominate up to two
Griffith was established in 1916 as part of the
New South Wales State Government's Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area
(MIA) project to supply irrigation from the Murrumbidgee river
in western New South Wales to be used for farming. The main dam
was the large Burrinjuck Dam between Gundagai and Canberra,
which stored water to be released down the river for irrigation.
Berembed Weir, near Narrandera, was built across the
Murrumbidgee River, from which flows the Main Canal. The Canal,
almost a river in its own right, flows through the MIA to
Griffith, supplying water to the entire area, and petering out
to the northwest of the city in rice farms.
The water supply was further enhanced with the construction of
the Snowy River scheme by the Australian Federal Government in
the 1950s and 1960s. The Blowering Dam, a large dam near Tumut
stores a significant amount of water to be released down the
Murrumbidgee for irrigation around Leeton, Griffith and the
newer Coleambally area south of the Murrumbidgee and Griffith.
From the start of the MIA, citrus and other fruit and vegetables
were grown in abundance around Griffith. In the 1950s the
irrigation area expanded to include large rice farms. Vineyards
were established early, and wineries followed, beginning with
McWilliams wines at Hanwood and Yenda, two villages just outside
From its earliest days, the MIA was populated by Italian
workers, some of whom were initially employed by Australian
farmers to run steamboats on the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers.
Approximately 60% of today's Griffith population claim Italian
background. These include the initial settlement of Italians
from the boat crews and other Italians who came out to Australia
in the Depression, or from a second wave of immigrant Italians
who came to Griffith in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the 1970s, Griffith was often associated with drug
distribution (particularly marijuana) and organised crime, as
depicted in 2009 by Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. However,
Griffith is now associated with good wine and food, primarily as
a result of its diverse population, with notable contributions
by Italian-Australians. Griffith's multi-ethnic population is
now absorbing new national groups, including a significant Sikh
Indian community. The city is sister city with the Italian city
of Treviso in the Veneto Region. Many Italians in Griffith are
from the Veneto Region or the Calabria Region of Italy.
The Italian influence expanded the range of fruit and
vegetables, and also significantly increased the number of
wineries and the range of wines produced. De Bortoli, Rosetto
and other wineries were established by Italian immigrants, and
today they are well known around Australia. In recent times they
have been joined by one of the country's best known wine labels,
Yellow Tail, produced by Casella Wines.
Griffith is the cathedral city of the Anglican Diocese of
Riverina. The foundation stone of the Parish Church of St Alban
the Martyr was dedicated in 1954. It was proclaimed as a
cathedral in 1984.
Griffith is the regional service centre for the
vast Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area - one of the most productive
agricultural regions in Australia. Thanks to irrigation Griffith
is rich in agriculture and the city is also known as Australia's
"Wine and Food Country".
Griffith has experienced strong commercial growth
in recent years. Griffith's main streets are Banna Avenue and
Yambil Streets but commercial growth has occurred throughout the
city. Shopping centre developments include:
Griffith City Plaza
Griffith Lifestyle Centre
Griffith Woolworths Complex
Griffith City Central
Driver Shopping Complex
Griffith is home to the Riverina's largest
employer, the Baiada Group. Griffith also has several wineries,
including De Bortoli Wines and Casellas (makers of Yellowtail
wine); and the Summertime Juice Factory.
Griffith's urban sprawl is very extensive due to
the rapidly growing population. The entire suburb of Collina has
been constructed to the north west of the city. Other housing
development has occurred in North Griffith, Mayfair and Pioneer.
Griffith is the third largest centre for education
in the Riverina after Wagga Wagga and Leeton. Griffith is home
to three high schools:
Griffith High School
Marian Catholic College (formerly Catholic High
Griffith also has 13 primary schools and various day care and
pre-school facilities. Griffith has one of the largest campuses
of Riverina Institute of TAFE. There has been recent plans to
construct a fifth campus of Charles Sturt University in
Griffith Buslines operates buses through Griffith
and surrounding towns and villages. Griffith is a major
junction for the Kidman Way, Burley Griffin Way and Irrigation
Way. Griffith is located 550 km west of Sydney via Burley
Griffin Way and Irrigation Way and 450 km north of Melbourne via
the Kidman Way. Griffith has daily bus services to the major
metropolitan areas and a special Xplorer service to Sydney on
weekends. Griffith Airport operates daily flights to Sydney and
The railway reached Griffith on 3 July 1916 and since that date
has provided an excellent service in transporting passengers and
goods into and out of the area. Regular goods trains continue,
making it a unique railway centre.
Riverina Field Days, which is held annually in May.
Festa, Wine, Food and Multicultural Festival, which
is held annually over the Easter weekend.
Festival of Gardens, which is held annually in
Games, held annually on the June Long Weekend
unWINEd, held annually on the June Long Weekend
for more events see
Griffith has many tourist attractions. These
include Pioneer Park, a 510 seat Regional Theatre, the Italian
museum, the Griffith Regional Art Gallery, craft and antique
shops, and its many high standard restaurants. Many of the
Griffith wineries also have wine tasting at the cellar door,
notably De Bortoli Wines, McWilliams, Beelgara Estate (formally
Rossetto Wines), West End Wines, Miranda Wines and Riverina
Griffith is famous for its botrytis including Debortoli's Noble
One and its fortified wine such as McWilliams' Hanwood Port.
Ecotourism is also available in Griffith. Scenic Hill has
various walking trails, lookouts and is home to the famous
Hermit's Cave. Nericon Swamp, part of the Griffith Wetlands
Important Bird Area, is an important site for migratory birds.
Nearby Cocoparra National Park offers walking trails and there
are opportunities to explore along the Murrumbidgee River and
Evonne Goolagong, former World No. 1 Australian
female tennis player.
Donald Mackay, anti-drugs campaigner.
Phillip Noyce, director of the 2002 film
Rabbit-Proof Fence and the 2010 American film Salt.
Robert Trimbole, Italian-Australian drug baron,
organised crime boss and businessman.