Griffith 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. Griffith was proclaimed a city in 1987, and had a population of 17,616 in 2011.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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% 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, as depicted in 2009 by . 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. 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.