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Riverina
CootamundraThe Riverina region of southern New South Wales stretches from the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in the east to the flat, dry plains of the inland, following the course of the Murrumbidgee River. It is an agricultural area that encompasses the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, where the rich, fertile soil produces a wide variety of crops. The area retains a strong Mediterranean influence from the migrant workers who arrived to work on the irrigation scheme. The area saw a gold rush in the nineteenth century and many towns still proudly display their fine municipal and private buildings dating from this era.

Climate
Summers in the area are fairly hot although the nights can be cool, while winters are cool. Rainfall is not generous and tends to fall in the winter months.

How do I get there?
Wagga Wagga is the regional hub. You can travel there by plane, train, bus or car. By car, it is an easy journey along the Hume Highway from either Sydney or Melbourne, while the Sturt Highway is the easiest access route from Adelaide.

What are the main towns?
Cootamundra is the home of the renowned Cootamundra Wattle, which colours the area in winter.

In the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, Griffith and Leeton were both designed by Walter Burley Griffin. The surrounding rich agricultural area produces rice, citrus fruits and wine. The area around Hay is a world-renowned sheep breeding and wool growing area.

What's there to do in the region?
Wagga Wagga is the jewel in the Riverina's crown. It is the state's biggest inland city and is the centre of a productive agricultural area. There are several heritage walks that will take you past some of the city's lovely buildings. A miniature railway runs through the Botanic Gardens and the Regional Art Gallery has some interesting displays including the National Art Glass Collection. The Museum of the Riverina also includes the Sporting Hall of Fame, highlighting the careers of many popular sports people who originally hailed from the area. The city is home to two military bases. There is a self-drive tour of the Army base at Kapooka while the Air Force base at Forest Hill houses the RAAF Museum. The area has a growing wine industry and there are tastings and cellar doors at many wineries.

In the foothills of the Snowy Mountains to the east of Wagga Wagga, Tumut lies in the tranquil Tumut Valley. There are many bushwalks in the area, including local sections of the Hume and Hovell track. This is a long distance track but smaller sections can be traversed in a matter of hours. Tumut 2 and 3 power stations are part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and are open for tours. The surrounding high country is spectacular and was the inspiration for Banjo Paterson's "The Man from Snowy River". Yarrangobilly Caves have fine calcite formations and the nearby Thermal Pool is perfect for soothing aches and pains. The waters around Tumut are renowned for trout fishing. The town celebrates the Festival of the Falling Leaf each autumn.

Nearby Adelong was the site of a gold rush in the 1850s. Diggings and a battery have been preserved at Adelong Falls, just out of town. There is a heritage walk that will take you past many of the town's gold rush era buildings. Further south lies Batlow, the heart of apple country. Blowering Dam is popular for picnicking, fishing and water sports. Tumbarumba lies on the edge of Bago State Forest and is noted for its spectacular mountain scenery. Visit the fuschia garden or marvel at the apple trees in blossom in the spring.

The "dog on the tuckerbox" was immortalized in the song "The Road to Gundagai". There are other attractions in the town, including the miniature marble cathedral created by the sculptor of the dog and the Gabriel Centre, with its fascinating collection of early photographs. Also housed in the Gabriel Centre are historic memorabilia of some of Australia's most renowned bush poets. Prince Alfred Bridge is the longest timber viaduct in Australia.

Cootamundra blazes with colour in the winter months, thanks to the Cootamundra wattle which flowers at that time. The birthplace of Sir Donald Bradman, the town boasts some fine heritage buildings and ancient elm trees.

Junee was the centre of a gold rush in the 1860s, but its future was assured when it became a railway hub in the 1880s. Dating from that period, historic Monte Cristo Homestead is now a private museum. Junee Wetlands has a boardwalk that allows visitors close access to both flora and fauna.

Temora also had its gold rush, and the Rural Museum has artefacts from the era, as well as a collection of items from the Sharman Troupe, a boxing troupe which originated in the area.

Tiny Coolamon lies in fertile pastoral land. Around the town are a series of holes which mysteriously fill with water from time to time. The town has some fine old buildings and there is a vintage farm machinery museum.

Once the haunt of bushranger Mad Dog Morgan, Lockhart's streetscape has distinctive wide verandahs. Visit the Galore Hill Nature Reserve and watch the working horses at Pioneer Farm.

Protected by the National Trust, Narrandera is noted for its streetscapes, parks and fine buildings. Take the heritage walk around the town and visit the Parkside Cottage Museum. The town celebrates its own bush poet in March with the John O'Brien Bush Festival.

Leeton owes its design to Walter Burley Griffin, who also designed Canberra and there are some original Art Deco buildings. The town is at the heart of the productive Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, and local produce includes cheese, rice, fruit and wines. There are tours and tastings to be had at many of the local outlets. Fivebough Swamp is a renowned wildfowl sanctuary.

Also designed by Walter Burley Griffin, Griffith too is surrounded by productive agricultural areas and many of the wineries offer tastings and cellar door sales. The Festival of Food and Wine, which held annually at Easter, showcases the area's fine produce. Green thumbs should check out the Festival of Gardens in October and also the local gardens, some of which are open in the summer months. Pioneer Park Museum features a recreated village and historic buildings.

Hay is surrounded by the vast Hay Plains. This area is a renowned sheep breeding and wool area, home to some world famous sheep studs. Shear Outback is a fascinating hands on display that includes the Shearer's Hall of Fame, a historic woolshed and many artefacts and activities relating to shearing - then and now.

Hay was a Cobb & Co coaching stop, and an original coach is preserved in the centre of town. There are many historic buildings that are highlighted on a heritage walk or drive and historic Bishop's Lodge is now a museum. Hay was the site of a prisoner of war internment camp during World War II and the restored railway station houses a display relating to this era in the town's history. The Murrumbidgee flows through the town and there are pleasant walks along the banks, as well as sandy beaches that are popular with locals and visitors for swimming, water sports and fishing. Hay Wetlands is a breeding place for many bird species.


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