Leeton's history dates back to 1912 when the MIA was officially opened and to 1913 when the first town allotments were made available. The town has grown at a steady and well planned pace and when coupled with the nearby village of Yanco, has a population of approximately 8,000. The other villages in the Shire are Whitton, Murrami and Wamoon which combine to make a total Shire population of 11,500.
The town of Leeton was designed by Walter Burley Griffin and the emphasis on tree lined streets, well tended parks, circular road designs are a major feature of the town. The towns within the Shire have been well recognised in the Tidy Towns Awards and Leeton has a strong emphasis on an Art Deco building theme. The Murrumbidgee River is the lifeblood of the area in terms of agricultural pursuits, but it is also an important recreation and relaxation facility. There are numerous drives through the red gum forests that flank the river leading to the sandy beaches and quiet picnic and fishing spots. Leeton Shire is a diverse rural and urban environment that can be enjoyed throughout all the year.
Leeton Visitors Information Centre
The Leeton Visitors Centre is housed in a beautifully restored building, and should be your first point of call upon arrival in the town. The friendly and informative staff will be happy to point you in the right direction, and will stop at no length to ensure that your experience in Leeton will be one to remember.
Built in 1913 and now meticulously redeveloped into an outstanding local icon, Leeton Visitors Information Centre is set in a magnificent `heritage' garden. A recent addition to the grounds of the Visitors Centre is a beautiful bronze statue depicting the work of women at the former ‘Letona’ fruit canning factory.
The Visitors Centre houses well presented photographic displays on the pioneering days of the M.I.A, and a comprehensive stock of local, regional and statewide tourism brochures. View the award winning video on Leeton, in 9 minutes you will have an extensive overview of this vibrant town and its wonderful community.
The Visitors Centre is located at 8 - 10 Yanco Avenue Leeton, on the eastern approaches to the town and is open: Mon - Fri ~ 9:00 - 5:00 Sat - Sun, Public Hols. ~ 9:30 - 12:30
Leeton SunRice Centre
Located at the Leeton Rice Mill, the Leeton SunRice Centre has comprehensive photographic and product displays on the Australian rice industry. The SunRice Centre is designed to provide the ‘paddock to plate’ concept of our Australian Rice Industry. Experience the Australian rice Industry story, enjoy the informative video, and enjoy a free sample of SunRice products.
The SunRice Centre caters for coach tour groups and school groups, and bookings are essential through Leeton Tourism. Contact [email protected] , or phone (02) 6953 6481. Independent travellers are welcome to attend a public presentation, conducted on weekdays at 9:30am and 2:45pm. (No booking is required for small parties).
Leeton boasts two outstanding wineries, located in close proximity to the town area.
Lillypilly Estate Winery is a family owned boutique winery and vineyard, and was established in 1982. Lillypilly Estate boasts hundreds of awards from home and abroad, and is now recognised as one of the Riverina’s best small wineries. The winery is open 10:00am – 5:30pm Monday to Saturday for cellar door tastings and sales.
Toorak Wines is Leeton’s largest winery, with a crush capacity of 5,000 tonnes of grapes each year. Toorak Wines has won over 400 medals at major Australian wine shows. Toorak Wines not only boasts an extensive range of varietal red and white table wines, but also has a well-earned reputation for excellent aged muscats and ports. Cellar door tastings and sales are available at Toorak Wines from 9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday to Saturday.
The Historic Hydro Motor Inn
Built in 1919 to house the families of the executives who came to build the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, this historic building has now been beautifully restored and is well worth a visit. Enjoy a quiet drink by the fireplace in the Hydro’s restored bar, and view the mural depicting the history of Leeton and the area, painted by local artist Lee Blacker-Nobel. The charm and grandeur of this exceptional building can be experienced first hand, with guided tours of the property available (bookings essential through Leeton Tourism).
In the shadow of Walter Burley Griffin’s unique art deco water towers, the Griffin Fountain was officially opened in December 2003 to commemorate the 75 th Anniversary of Leeton Shire Council. The fountain’s design depicts the vanes of a water wheel to mark the significance of irrigation to the Shire, and a colourful mosaic depicting the agricultural industry of the Shire. The adjacent picnic tables and gardens make this an ideal place to relax and enjoy Griffin’s concept of a civic town centre.
One of the most striking architectural features in Leeton, the Roxy Theatre was opened in 1930 to serve the entertainment needs of the community. Today, the Roxy Community Theatre is a show-piece of the town, and is one of the few remaining theatres of its type in Australia. The theatre plays host to the latest release movies on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as numerous school and community concerts, and the annual Leeton Eisteddfod. The architectural style of the theatre is typical of its era, with an Art Deco influence prominent in the architecture. Be sure to view the Theatre on a Friday or Saturday night, when the building is lit up in a glorious neon light display.
Guided tours of this majestic piece of architecture are available by appointment only. Please contact Leeton Tourism at [email protected] , or phone (02) 6953 6481.
Parks and Reserves
The banks of the Murrumbidgee River, located around 10km south of Leeton, provide a recreational playground for locals and visitors alike. With secluded sandy beaches, scenic forest drives, great fishing spots, and first-rate water skiing, the Murrumbidgee River and MIA State Forest will be sure to cater for your recreational needs. Maps and directions are available at Leeton Visitors Information Centre.
Leeton Aboriginal Mission
Late in the nineteenth century, with their traditional lands gone, the Aboriginal community were forced to move to a mission. Although it has been closed the site can still be visited. It lies 9 km north-west of Leeton. Head out of town on the Whitton/Griffith Road. After about 2 km you will come to an S-bend over the railway line. Instead of crossing the line veer to the right on to the dirt road and follow it to the shelter where some signs tell the story.
Yanco Powerhouse Museum and Miniature Railways
open on the last Sunday of each Month, the Yanco Powerhouse Museum and Miniature railways provide a day of fun and entertainment for the whole family. Ride the 1km miniature railway track around the museum, and be informed and enlightened by the displays in the Powerhouse Museum. The Yanco Village Markets also operate on the last Sunday of each month, making a day out in Yanco an event for the whole family.
Whitton Courthouse and Historical Museum
The Whitton Courthouse and Historical Museum complex was officially opened on 23 January 1988 as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. The complex boasts a comprehensive and varied collection of early farming and irrigation equipment, historic photographs and well documented exhibits that identify the spirit of Whitton’s rich history. The Museum complex is open Saturday and Sunday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, and other days by appointment.
Held biennially over the Easter period, the Leeton SunRice Festival coincides with the region’s massive rice harvest, and forms the backbone of Leeton’s calendar of events. The purpose of the Festival is to promote the Leeton Shire, the achievements of SunRice (Leeton’s biggest employer), attract visitors, encourage residents to become involved in a community event, and above all, to highlight the importance of Leeton as a major food producing area in Australia.
Held annually around mid March, the Bidgee Classic Fishing Competition is held on the Murrumbidgee River, between Middle Beach and Yanco Weir. Attracting hundreds of anglers from near and far, the competition encourages the catch and release of native species such as Murray Cod and Golden Perch, and aids in clearing the river of European Carp. Proceeds from the competition go to re-stocking the river with native fingerlings, and data is collected for the use of NSW Waterways.
There’s thousands of dollars worth of prizes in many different categories. Whether you consider yourself an expert angler or a novice, the Bidgee Fishing Classic will ensure a great weekend out with the family or your mates.
The Murrumbidgee Farm Fair is held annually at the Yanco Agricultural Institute, on the second Friday and Saturday in May. The Farm Fair is recognised by exhibitors and one of the best and fastest growing events on the field days calendar. The event has grown from modest beginnings in 1988, to this year when over 400 exhibitors and around 15,000 patrons flocked to the Yanco site. Featuring the best in agricultural, lifestyle and home ware products, the Murrumbidgee Farm Fair has something for everyone.
The annual Leeton Eisteddfod is Leeton’s cultural event of the year. Primarily held in the town’s majestic Roxy Theatre, the Leeton Eisteddfod attracts dancers, singers and musicians from all over New South Wales. One of the outstanding cultural events in South–western New South Wales, the Leeton Eisteddfod is held over three weeks in August, and culminates with a spectacular closing concert on the last weekend of August.
Drawing on Leeton’s rich agricultural diversity, the annual Leeton Agricultural Show showcases the agricultural and community spirit of the shire. The pavilions at the Leeton Showground a filled with displays such as an animal nursery, arts, crafts and flower exhibitions, school displays and cooking exhibits.. The crowning of Miss Showgirl, equestrian displays, fireworks display, sheep dog trails and sideshow alley all add to the excitement of the event. Held on the second weekend in October each year, the Leeton Agricultural Show brings together locals and visitors to celebrate our agricultural background.
The ‘Light Up Leeton’ Christmas Carnival and concert is held each year in Leeton’s Mountford Park, around one month before Christmas. Bringing together the community in the lead up to the holiday period, the Concert features local schools, organisations, and clubs. After the arrival of Santa and Mrs Clause, the crowd joins in a convoy around the streets of Leeton, viewing the hundreds of homes and businesses decorated in the Christmas theme. The properties remain decorated up to Christmas, with maps available pointing out the decorated homes and businesses. Maps and further details are available at Leeton Visitors Centre.
Hosted by the Leeton Jockey Club, the Leeton Picnic Races are quickly becoming a hallmark event on Leeton’s social and sporting calendar. With fashions on the field, excellent facilities, full catering and betting on local and metropolitan races, the Leeton Picnic Races promise a great day out for all.