Griffith, New South Wales

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New South Wales
Griffith Court House
Griffith is located in New South Wales
Coordinates 34°17′24″S 146°2′24″E / 34.29000°S 146.04000°E / -34.29000; 146.04000Coordinates: 34°17′24″S 146°2′24″E / 34.29000°S 146.04000°E / -34.29000; 146.04000
Population 17,616 (2011)[1]
Established 4 August 1916[2]
Postcode(s) 2680
Elevation 129.2 m (424 ft)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10)
 • Summer (DST) AEDT (UTC+11)
LGA(s) City of Griffith
County Cooper
State electorate(s) Murray
Federal Division(s) Riverina
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.8 °C
75 °F
10.0 °C
50 °F
397.3 mm
15.6 in

Griffith /ˈɡrɪfəθ/[3] is a city in south-western New South Wales, Australia. 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 Arthur Hill Griffith the first New South Wales minister of Public Works.[4] Griffith was proclaimed a city in 1987,[5] and had a population of 17,616 in 2011.[1]

It can be accessed by road from Sydney and Canberra via the Hume Highway and the Burley Griffin Way and from Melbourne, Victoria 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 was installed at the intersection of Burrell Place and Wakaden Street.[6][7]


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 ancestries.[1]


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.[5] 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.[8] 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.[5]

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 the city.

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%[9] 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,[10] 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.[11] 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 by the existing wineries in the region, such as McWilliam's. 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. Casella, DeBortoli, McWilliams, Warburn and Berton Vineyards are now among the top 20 wine producers in Australia.[12]

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 has a semi-arid climate (BSk) under the Köppen climate classification with hot summers and cool winters.[13]

Climate data for Griffith
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 46.0
Average high °C (°F) 32.8
Average low °C (°F) 16.9
Record low °C (°F) 6.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 33.2
Avg. precipitation days 4.2 3.7 3.9 4.6 6.4 7.6 9.4 9.0 7.5 6.4 5.3 4.9 72.9
Average humidity (%) 28 34 37 41 53 63 62 54 47 37 35 31 43
Source: [14]


Griffith is the regional service centre for the vast Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area - one of the most productive agricultural regions in Australia.[15] Thanks to irrigation Griffith is rich in agriculture and the city is also known as Australia's "Wine and Food Country".[16]


Banna Avenue, Griffith

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 is home to the Riverina's largest employer, the Baiada Group.[17] Griffith also has several wineries, including De Bortoli Wines and Casellas (makers of Yellow Tail 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 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.


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. Griffith Airport operates daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne.

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.[18]

Griffith railway station is a served by weekly NSW TrainLink Xplorer service from Sydney. NSW TrainLink also operate a road coach service from Wagga Wagga.[19]


  • Riverina Field Days, which is held annually in May.
  • La Festa, Wine, Food and Multicultural Festival, which is held annually over the Easter weekend.
  • Festival of Gardens, which is held annually in October
  • Sikh Games, held annually on the June Long Weekend
  • unWINEd, held annually on the June Long Weekend

for more events see


Griffith from Scenic Hill lookout

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, Berton Vineyards and Warburn Estate. 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.[20] Nearby Cocoparra National Park offers walking trails and there are opportunities to explore along the Murrumbidgee River and Lake Wyangan.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Griffith, is twinned with:[21]

Notable people[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Griffith (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Kelly, Bryan Morris (1988). From wilderness to eden : a history of the City of Griffith, its region and its people. Griffith, N.S.W.: City of Griffith Council. p. 18. ISBN 0-7316-3994-4. 
  3. ^ Macquarie ABC Dictionary. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. 2003. p. 430. ISBN 1-876429-37-2. 
  4. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for Griffith, Arthur Hill (1861 - 1946)
  5. ^ a b c "History of Griffith". Griffith City Council. Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  6. ^ Tyson, Ross (28 March 2008). "Council says no to lights". The Area News (Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 8 April 2008. 
  7. ^ Tyson, Ross (5 February 2010). "Busy intersection lights up". The Area News (Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Berembed Weir and Site". NSW Heritage Branch. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  9. ^ "Italian Story". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2004. 
  10. ^ "Aussie Bob, the panel beater who became a millionaire". The Age. 16 May 1983. 
  11. ^ "Sikh community continues tsunami relief efforts". ABCNews. 4 January 2005. 
  12. ^ 2014 Wine Industry Directory
  13. ^ Linacre, Edward; Geerts, Bart (1997). Climates and Weather Explained. London: Routledge. p. 379. ISBN 0-415-12519-7. 
  14. ^ "Monthly climate statistics". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "Sustainable Agriculture in the Lower Murrumbidgee Catchment". European Geosciences Union. Institute of Hydromechanics and Water Resources Management. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  16. ^ "Vacations Griffith - Australia". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  17. ^ "Union fears more Baiada job cuts". 31 July 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  18. ^ From Penfolds to Patricks Pollard, Neville Australian Railway History, February; March; April 2008 pp39-57; 75-89; 111-117
  19. ^ Southern timetable NSW TrainLink 30 June 2014
  20. ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Griffith Wetlands. Downloaded from on 30/06/2011.
  21. ^ a b c d "International Relations". Griffith City Council. Retrieved 2013-08-08.