Deniliquin (known locally as “Deni”) is known for two things: Utes and the iconic event, the Deni Ute Muster. I asked some of the locals what there is to do in town and they all came back with the same answer – nothing. But Deni’s charms lies in its picturesque views and rich history. There is certainly enough to keep you entertained warranting Deni above a saw-on-the-way-through-but-didn’t-stop type town.
We stayed at the Riverview Motel (13 Butler St) – the only motel in Deniliquin overlooking the majestic Edward River, hence the name. While some of the facilities may be a little outdated, you’re in for a comfortable stay and pleasant night sleep. The owners Frank Rinaldi and wife, Di, are friendly, hospitable and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, Rinaldi’s Restaurant is adjacent to the motel lobby, and boasts a delightful a la carte menu with a range of spirits, cocktails and coffee/tea.
Outside the motel is McLean Beach (1 Butler St) – New South Wales’ largest inland river beach. It was blocked off due to flooding when we were there but is apparently good for fishing, water-skiing or just relaxing by the beach when the weather permits.
It’s also the perfect starting point for a beach to riverside walk around town to see Deni’s iconic landmarks – begin at McLean Beach, following the path along the banks of the Edward River. You’ll pass the hospital, police station, and medical centre, before getting to the iconic Ute on the Pole (Charlotte Street) – erected in 2000 to celebrate Deniliquin’s famous Ute muster. If you see nothing else, see this.
Head under the National Bridge and to the Deniliquin Information Centre and Peppin Heritage Centre (Cnr of George and Napier Streets). Housed together in the old George Street Public School, built in 1870, the centre tells the story of the legendary Peppin Merino through informative displays, interactive sites, antiquities and photographs.
The centre incorporates an old school room, the tale of the “Headless Horseman” in the old Wanganella Gaol, “Struggle for Water” Exhibition, Warriston Ram Shed and the history of many properties along the Edward River. The Gallery space provides an area for up to 12 exhibitions a year, sculptural, art, fashion, collectibles and travelling exhibitions.
Next door you’ll see the Mosaic Ute and the Long Paddock sculpture called ‘Shod‘. The lush green grass and reflections on the Murray River make for many photo opportunities.
Continuing past the sculptures, and stopping to take photos of the Deniliquin Town Hall, head down the ramp to the Island Sanctuary (Cressy Street). You can organise a tour with Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre or wander on your own time amongst the trees, birds and kangaroos. You’ll finally pass the water supply tower and the remnants of where the steam-powered engine was, before concluding the walk at the Murray Valley Regional Park.
With so many parks to visit, you can imagine our disappointment when the flooding meant we couldn’t see much at all. We decided to cut our losses and head to Barmah National Park for a ride on the Kingfisher Cruises of the World-heritage listed Barmah Wetlands.
Often two-hour cruises can drag but this didn’t feel like that. Time flew, which is the sign of a time much-enjoyed. Whether you just want to sit back, relax, take in the views or learn a few things along the way, the cruise was enjoyed by all.
With humour, our certified eco guide, John, showed us snakes, koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, numerous birds, introduced us to the deadly ‘log-o-diles’ (cousins to the not-as-deadly ‘stick-o-diles’) and shared many interesting and informative stories.
Crossing the NSW/Victorian border through Moira Creek, Moira Lake, Millewa, Gulpa Forests, and travelling through the narrowest sections of the Murray River, due to the floods we were able to journey to places the boat hasn’t been able to in years. This excited John and in turn, his enthusiasm transferred onto us. It’s not often that you get to see the forest at such a high height, making it a rare treat for those of us who appreciate the beauty of nature.
You’re free to walk around the Barmah National Park once the cruise ends (we couldn’t due to the floods). The Barmah National Park is a popular camping, fishing, bird watching and recreation destination. There is even the option to go on a three-day, all-inclusive guided kayaking tour through the Murray River. Another option is the Dharnya Aboriginal Cultural Centre only minutes away or head South West to Echuca.
On our way back to Deniliquin, we stopped in Tocumwal and Mathoura – if you’re fan of getting your photo taken in front of Big Things of Australia then it’s a must do! Tocumwal, known for its good fishing, has a big Murray Cod (21 feet long and 7 feet high and 5 feet across) – located at Foreshore Park, close to the Tourist Information centre.
And although I couldn’t find any information on it, Mathoura has a big fish as well, located on the side of the Cobb Highway on the way into Deniliquin.
Once back in Deniliquin, a trip to Waring Gardens is a must! For absolute picturesque views and the perfect place to unwind, these gardens provide a peaceful and tranquil experience. Perfect for bird and duck watching, the gardens are award-winning and well-kept by the local council, and a personal favourite of mine. I can only imagine how beautiful the other gardens must be based on this one non-flooded park we were able to visit.
The Lone Pine Memorial – erected by a grateful public in memory of the glorious dead commemorating all women of the armed forces from Deniliquin and the district who served in World War II in 1939-1945 – is also situated within the Waring Gardens.
While you’re there, view the Three Muses, Multi Arts Centre (the former St Paul’s Anglican Church) and the Pastoral Times building all in the near vicinity of the Waring Gardens and in the centre of town.
I hope that gave you a little more insight into what Deniliquin has to offer. There was much more to see, but with the flood waters it simply wasn’t meant to be. I guess this gives me an excuse to return again in the future.
For more details about the attractions mentioned, head to their official websites:
Riverview Motel: riverviewmotel.com.au
Peppin Heritage Centre: mgnsw.org.au/organisations/peppin-heritage-centre
Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre: yarkuwa.com.au
Kingfisher Cruise: kingfishercruises.com.au
The author visited Deniliquin as a guest of Destination NSW, and spent a night at Riverview Motel courtesy of the motel. We flew with Rex Regional Express. Photos by the author on the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100.