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Between Sydney (550kms) and Melbourne (450kms) and also between Griffith and Wagga, Leeton is an important commercial centre for the surrounding farming community. Just south of the town centre is the historical village of Yanco, started by the first pioneer of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, Samuel McCaughey.
Water is what is important to this part of NSW, the nearby Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps are home to local and passing migratory birds. There have been 174 different species recorded here.
When Samuel McCaughey proved it was possible to irrigate land here, the government of the day decided to develop a mass irrigation scheme here from 1906 to 1912. The town itself was named after the then Minister of Public Works of NSW, Charles Lee.
The town, designed by Walter Burly Griffin who also created the layout for Canberra, began to develop after WWI, when returned servicemen were granted farm lots in the region to help with their recovery. Out of a population of 2000 people, 200 men had enlisted to serve in the military.
From 1922, the town prospered and many of the main buildings that populate the main streets were built during this period. Interestingly, the town has a circular street and road structure, with sections of the town carefully constructed according to their function.
Henry Lawson lived in Leeton from 1916 to 1917.
Tour the streets of Leeton, Yanco and Whitton to see the many Art Deco buildings and their history. At Mounford Park, Wade Ave., there is a pathway with names of the early pioneer settler families of Leeton and Yanco.
The Roxy Theatre, of art deco design is still being used for what is was designed for, with movies on weekends. There is a small art gallery here, which you can visit. Corner of Wade and Pine Avenues.
This inn opened in 1919.
There are award winning wineries in the area, including the Lillypilly Estate Winery and Toorak Winery. Grapes were started to grow here in 1913, today more than 300 thousand tonnes of them are produced here, much more than the Hunter Valley.
As the Riverina has been declared an official Australian wine producing region, look for wines with the name Riverina on the label. Both Lillypilly and Toorak operate cellar doors.
Just to the north west of Leeton is the Cocoparra National Park. Protecting more than 8,000 hectares and the Cocoparra Range, there are wildlife, picnic areas, walking tracks and natural scenery to enjoy.
At the Leeton Visitor Information Centre, there are historical displays and an art gallery with works from local artists. Located on 10 Yanco Avenue, phone +061 2 6953 6481 for more information.
North of Balranald: NSW Outback.
Directly east is the city of Canberra of the Australian Capital Territory, with national museums, monuments and art galleries: Canberra ACT.
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Topic: NSW Outback
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