Deniliquin is situated on the Edward River, in the centre of Riverina sheep station country and on the fringe of the world’s largest redgum forest, where bird and wildlife abound.
The natural attractions of the region and the well developed network of forest trails offer you the chance to free your adventurous spirit. Try camping, kayaking, biking, bird watching, swimming, fishing or water-skiing.
Deniliquin is in every sense a crossing place. The township sprung up at a favoured spot on the Edward River where drovers forded or swam their stock across on their journey along ‘The Long Paddock’ -the travelling stock route. Up to three stock routes converged there and it was soon an important stock market.
The area was originally inhabited by the Wamba Wamba nation of indigenous people. Their traditional boundaries included the Barapa Barapa tribe from the Barham area and adjoined the lands of the Yorta Yorta nation.
Seeking to extend his pastoral holdings inland, Scottish banking entrepreneur Benjamin Boyd commissioned a young Victorian station owner, Augustus Morris, to look for land north of the Murray River. Around 1843 Morris took up 700,00 acres, the Deniliquin Run, for Boyd. Commencing just north of the Murray it extended to half way between the Billabong Creek and the Murrumbidgee River, following the Edward river westward towards Balranald.
The first inn, named the “Wanderer” after Boyd’s yacht, was erected in 1847 on the ground now occupied by the North Deniliquin School. That same year James Maiden moved his old punt from Moama on the Murray and set it up at Deniliquin, at the end of what is now Edwardes Street. A Dr Coward, the first resident on the south side of the river, settled on what is now the Island Sanctuary, just upstream of the punt. The town site was surveyed in 1848 and gazetted in 1850. Deniliquin became the district’s police administrative centre. Its first gaol, built in 1856, was replaced by a large brick building in 1864. At times the gaol housed as many as 75 prisoners; three hangings took place within its walls. It was demolished in 1966.
The Deniliquin Court House was built in 1883 and is located in Poicters Street not far from the wonderful Waring Gardens. A splendid building, its handsome lines are probably better suited to a provincial city. It is an impressive reminder of the faith our forefathers had in the future of Deniliquin.
In 1859 the town had two hospitals, which amalgamated in 1861. An interesting relic, a stained glass window depicting Hygeia, the goddess of health, survives in the present hospital foyer.
In 1859 local squatters embraced new technology. After unsuccessfully lobbying the government for a telegraph line to give them immediate market prices for stock in Melbourne, they formed a company and built their own line to Moama from where telegrams were taken across the river to Echuca, already connected to Melbourne.
In 1876 the town built its own railway to Echuca after again being denied government assistance. It remained profitable until taken over by the Victorian Railways in 1923.
The Robertson Land Laws of 1861 allowed the vast areas of land held under lease by the “squatters” to be split up into small holdings under a “Conditional Purchase” scheme which brought many settlers to the district.
The land underwent further subdivision following both the First and Second World Wars, when small blocks were made available to returned servicemen under Closer Settlement schemes. Availability of water from the Mulwala Canal system allowed for subdivision into quite small blocks and the development of a range of new enterprises.
Today, while the Deniliquin district still supports a thriving wool industry there is now greater emphasis on production from beef cattle, fat lambs, oil seeds, dairying, and cereal crops. Deniliquin is now the centre of an extensive rice growing region and is home to one of the largest rice mills in the world.
The Deniliquin Peppin Heritage Centre and Visitor Information Centre are housed in the first Public School, the building dating from 1879. The Centre is a regional museum concentrating on the Peppin Merino and the influence the pioneering men and women had in building a successful Merino industry. It also has an authentic 1930’s style classroom and a main gallery where local and travelling exhibitions are held regularly.
A stroll along the Heritage River Walk will take you past some of the old buildings, the red gum trees that line the river and you may be able to spot some of the birds that can be found in the area. The walk takes you past the ute on the pole, the mosaic ute and The Long Paddock sculpture called ‘Shod’ which depicts a giant half of a bullock’s shoe.
Visit the Deniliquin Historical Society located in the old 1880’s Police Inspector’s residence. Each room is filled with wonders of a bygone era.
Wander through the Island Sanctuary, where there are kangaroos, possums, bats, and birds aplenty amidst river red gum. Book in at the Yarkuwa Knowledge Centre for a guided tour.
Wander through the Waring Gardens opposite Deniliquin’s main shopping strip in Cressy Street and discover the Bird Sanctuary and plenty of picnic spots with BBQ facilities. Learn about the rich history of the famous stock route along The Long Paddock River Walk starting at the Peppin Heritage Centre. Visit the Pioneer Garden Centre and Steam Pump Display, where restored steam engines and pumps are displayed, or take photos of the ute on a pole, erected in celebration of the annual World Record Ute Muster.
The Visitor Information Centre with its friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers will make sure you do not miss any of the attractions Deniliquin has to offer.