Griffith may not be the best known of Australia’s cities, but to sommeliers this small community in rural New South Wales is celebrated as a gateway to a Promised Land of vineyards, bodegas and all things grape. The city is surrounded by vineyards, and some of the larger operations have wine tasting at the cellar door, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the local produce.
Griffith is also noted for its ecotourism. The appropriately named Scenic Hill offers a number of walking trails and lookouts, and is home to the famous Hermit’s Cave where a lone inhabitant built a home of terraced gardens, cisterns, dry-stone walls and bridges in the mid-20th century. Also located nearby is Nericon Swamp, part of the Griffith Wetlands Important Bird Area, while Cocoparra National Park is another paradise for hikers, offering easy access to Murrumbidgee River and Lake Wyangan.
Last, but by very no means least, visit the town’s very first set of traffic lights at the intersection of Burrell Place and Wakaden Street which were only installed in February 2010.
Due to the Griffith’s close relationship with wine, a good time of year to visit is during the grape harvest, beginning in early January and lasting into late February and early March. Once the grapes are picked, be sure to extend your stay to experience La Festa, an annual celebration of food, wine and cultural diversity held over Easter. October sees another annual highlight in the shape of the Griffith Festival of Gardens when specially selected town, farm and outback gardens open for the weekend. Refreshments will be available, as will transport to and from the gardens, with all proceeds going to charity. Alternatively, visit in August to experience the widely heralded Festival of the Sausage when the city’s large Italian population celebrates the art of salami making. And if meat isn’t your thing, the Citrus Sculpture Display, also held in October, sees the city adorned with all manner of sculptures… made exclusively from oranges.
Be sure to hire a car at the airport as some of the city’s major attractions lie in the surrounding countryside. Griffith itself is served by reasonably-priced Griffith Buslines. Services also run to destinations outside the city, including Hanwood, Beelbangera and Darlington Point. Senior citizens can take advantage of a RED ticket, which entitles them to unlimited daily travel.