Griffith, NSW

Though we didn’t plan to, we ended up with a boot-full of wine. It was only intended as a brief visit on our way to Canberra. But when we discovered DeBortoli’s had cases and cases of significantly discounted wine, we simply had to.

“This is just like when Damien and I visisted in 2003”, I told Sue. I was visiting Griffith to host a conference, and Damien came too. While a bunch of us worked, the “plus ones” spent the day visiting vineyards. At the time, “Cranswick Wines” was going into receivership. They had lots of their export wines – with names like “Bondi Beach Merlot” and “Koala Chardonnay” (I’m making those names up, but hopefully you get the idea) on significant discount. What would normally cost a bottle, bought you a case. The discounts weren’t quite that good this time around, but they were significant. It was a lovely reminder of the last time I visited Griffith.

I have very fond memories of visiting Griffith on many occasions, and so I really wanted to revisit it. Also, Sue has Italian heritage (albeit from the North, whereas Griffith is mostly inhavited by people from the South), so I thought she would enjoy some of the cultural stuff. “Four years ago to the day”, Sue declared, she was visiting her grandparent’s village in Italy, and here she was visiting a country town strongly influenced by Italian culture.

Visiting ‘The Hermit’s Cave’, which is a “series shelters, terraced gardens, exotic plants, water-cisterns, dry-stone walling and linking bridges, stairways and paths that stretch intermittently across more than a kilometre of the escarpment. Made single-handedly by a reclusive Italian migrant, Valerio Ricetti, these structures involved the moving of hundreds of tons of stone and earth, together with the ingenious incorporation of natural features in the landscape”. We both really loved visiting the site which enjoys excellent views over Griffith.

Located not far from the Hermit’s Cave is the Pioneer Park Museum. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re ever in Griffith, as they’ve gathered a number of historic buildings from around the region, and have brought them together. We wandered around for a couple of hours.

Pioneer Park Museum
Pioneer Park Museum

We both really enjoyed the Italian Museum within the Pioneer Park. Located inside the Italian Museum, there’s a broad range of material, including clothing, furniture, wine industry paraphenalia etc.

I especially loved this photograph and motorcycle, telling the story of a local Catholic priest who came originally from Italy.

Though I’d visited Griffith on a number of occasions, I’d never previously visited either the Pioneer Park Museum, nor the Hermit’s Cave. I guess it’s because all of my previous trips were work-related, and I never really had much time for sight-seeing.

We also did a farm tour, which I’d also highly recommend. The Catania Fruit Salad Farm is a working farm, and a farm stay, and they do daily tours.

Grapes on the Catania Fruit Salad Farm.
Visiting the Catania Fruit Salad Farm at Griffith.
Sharon, the co-owner and tour guide at the Catania Fruit Salad Farm, was an excellent host. She’s knowledgeable, and has a great sense of humour.
As a souvenir of our visit, I purchased some Orange Blossom Honey and some Mulberry Jam. We tasted the honey, and it was delicious. Mulberry Jam is a lovely reminder of my childhood. We had a mulberry tree in the backyard, and so did my Aunty Joanie.

As there is a major Aboriginal arts festival currently underway in Griffith, we set aside some time to take a look at some of the works on display. I especially loved seeing works by Treahna Hamm, who I knew many years ago when I was living in Wagga.

Works by Dr Treahna Hamm, currently on display at the Griffith Regional Theatre

And we finished off the day with a visit to La Scala Restaurant. “You were lucky to get in”, our AirBnB host, Rosemary said to us. I remember visiting the restaurant maybe twenty or thirty years ago, and I remember how popular it was then, and so I booked about a month ago. The restaurant seemed to be full of mostly locals, often in family groups, though we also spotted a few “grey nomads” who had also, obviously, heard about it.

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