An Introduction to Wagga Wagga
The City of Wagga Wagga is the jewel of the New South Wales Riverina. The first piece of advice I have for is don’t get lazy when saying the name.
In other word, calling it “Wagga” won’t win you any brownie points with locals!
At the 2018 Census Wagga Wagga’s population was just over 56,000. The major industry in the area is agriculture, especially livestock. As a result, the Wagga Wagga saleyards are world renowned and many record prices have been set here.
Viticulture is also an important part of the agricultural landscape in Wagga Wagga. This is combined with Education at the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University.
The original inhabitants of the Wagga Wagga region were the indigenous Wiradjuri people. Charles Sturt became the first European explorer to visit the area in 1829. The town is positioned alongside the Murrumbidgee River. As a result the river the focal point of the city.
Wagga Wagga was surveyed and gazetted as a village in 1849. The population of the area grew quickly in the 1850’s and 60’s. After that, the town was gazetted as a municipality in 1970.
Wagga Wagga was nearly named the capital city of the Nation. Not a commonly known fact. Canberra was chosen instead.
Climate and Geography
The Wagga Wagga climate is classified as humid subtropical. However, the climate here is more temperate than this suggest. Locals experience hot summers and cool winters.
Average summertime maximum temperatures range around the 30C mark. Winter maximums drop into the low teens. The wet season is winter with Wagga Wagga seeing an average annual rainfall of 571mm.
Wagga Wagga is located in the Eastern part of the NSW Riverina region. It is 450kms South West of Sydney and 456kms North East of Melbourne.
This list will give you over 25 different things to do in Wagga Wagga. Let’s get into it!
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Wine and Food
Eunonyhareenyha Wines (Pronounced U-NON-EE-HAREEN-YA) is family owned and operated by Howard and Jan Pollard. As a result, most of their wines are made on-site.
The winery is named after an indigenous word meaning place of many emus. The natives here would wait by bodies of water ambush emus for food.
The winery recently introduced a Rosé which is made under the guidance of master winemaker Andrew McEwin.
The Winery grows Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo grapes. These varieties suited to the seasonal conditions, with cold winters and hot summers.
Charles Sturt University Winery
If you are interested in the science of winemaking you will enjoy this unique experience.
The Charles Sturt Winery is part of Australia’s leading wine science school. As a result, the CSU winery is at the forefront of viticultural practices and wine making techniques.
It is also part of the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC). Students conduct research in grape and wine science, vine physiology, wine composition and consumer preference.
This last point is where you come in. If you want to enjoying a day’s wine tasting, why not become call it scientific research? In other words, enjoy a day of great wine in the name of science.
The winery also focuses on excellence. It has won several industry awards for its outstanding chardonnay.
The cellar door is what you would expect to see at any world-renowned vineyard. Check out the CSU website for more details on how to get there.
Cottontails Restaurant, Winery and Function Centre
Cottontails is a short and scenic, 20-minute drive from Wagga Wagga. If you can only get to one winery when visiting, this is it. I love it here, I’m sure you will as well.
Harefield Wines is the label created from the fruits of labour on this land. The winery began in 2001 with local man Gerry McCormick establishing the newest winery in the Riverina, Harefield Ridge.
After that they released their first commercial vintage. This was released under the brand “Cottontail”.
The amazing deck blends in perfectly with the landscape. As a result, it has become the venue of choice in Wagga Wagga for special events.
The restaurant offers a carefully designed menu. Nothing is left to chance at Cottontails. Above all, the menu features local produce which compliments the wine list.
Just a short, 20-minute drive from Wagga Wagga. Borambola Wines offers guests country winery feels with world class food and wine.
Borambola Wines is a family owned business. Therefore, it specialises in 100% locally grown and produced wines. These include a selection of reds, whites, sparkling, as well as Tuckerbox hoppy lager beer and premium apple cider.
This winery embraces its country roots. Their philosophy is to grow the best grapes utilising organic best practice.
One word describes the food at Borambola Wines. Amazing. These guys know exactly how to partner their wines with a grazing board full of unusual flavours. It just works.
The Cellar Door offers tastings and tours are also available.
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Arts and Culture
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery: National Art Glass Gallery
The Wagga Wagga Art Gallery’s modern building was completed in 1999. It was designed by Melbourne architect Garner Davis. The Gallery includes seven exhibition areas. One gallery is housesd the permanent National Art Glass Collection.
The Glass Gallery is extraordinary. It houses a collection of contemporary art glass, featuring around 500 pieces.
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery is also home to the Margaret Carnegie Print Collection. The collection is made up of over 1200 original prints by some of Australia’s best artists.
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery is popular with locals and visitors. As a result, it welcomes over 40,000 people annually to exhibitions, events, educational and public programs. Best of all, it’s FREE to the public.
RAAF Wagga Aviation Heritage Centre
The RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre is 5 minutes east of Wagga Wagga. The Centre is located at the Wagga Wagga RAAF Base at Forest Hill.
The heritage centre has indoor and outdoor displays. These displays include aircraft and memorabilia. Also, on display is a wide array of photographs relating to the RAAF in the Riverina.
The museum wing of the centre was constructed in 1995. It was completely remodelled in 2001 and nearly closed its doors for good. Public pressure mounted and it was finally re opened to the public in 2009.
Since the reopening it has become a stellar tourist attraction for the city.
A visit to the centre is a family friendly day out. There is plenty to learn about Australia’s proud aviation history and the RAAF.
Riverina Model Cars Plus
This is certainly one for those who appreciate auto history. Or those who have petrol in their veins. I’m not much of a car enthusiast. Despite this, even I enjoyed the tour.
Riverina Model Cars Plus has been collecting models for over 30 years. They have collected the biggest range of high quality Autoart, BIANTE, APEX, Authentic Collectables and Classic Carlectables.
The range consists of diecast and resin model cars and trucks. It’s hard resist taking one home with you to build at home. The enthusiasm of the staff here is infectious.
If it’s a rare model you’re after, they can help track it down. As a result, they are happy to ship your purchase to any part of the country.
Museum of the Riverina
This museum is a tribute to the rich history of the Riverina. It is a social history museum. Therefore, it combines touring shows with local stories about life in the Riverina.
The Museum of the Riverina operates from two sites.
The old Council Chambers on Baylis St hosts a program of temporary and travelling exhibitions. The Botanic Gardens site hosts permanent collections only.
These include the Riverina Sporting Hall of Fame and “Kidzone”.
Kidzone is a special discovery exhibition for children aged 0-12. As a result the activities in the Kidzone include many learning experiences. These include and outdoor adventures.
Above all , both sites have plenty to offer visitors of all ages. local history buffs should place this museum at the top of your list of places to see.
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Family Friendly
Collins Park is a beautiful setting right in the heart of Wagga Wagga. It provides a great backdrop for the perfect family escape.
The kid’s playground is located right at the centre of the Park. In addition, plenty of shade is provided by the fully mature trees. kids will enjoy the wide-open spaces in the park. Here they can kick the footy and enjoy each other’s company.
Alongside the playground is a gazebo, a double bbq and picnic benches.
The trees are really the highlight of the park. Varieties include Bunya Pines and Plane trees, and most are over 100 years old.
Details regarding Collins Park can be found via the local council’s website.
Outdoorsy families will enjoy Lake Albert. The lake is manmade and was constructed in 1868. The site was originally known as Swampy Plains.
The Lake also caters for water skiing, rowing, boating, fishing and swimming.
There is a five-and-a-half kilometre walking track around the Lake. As a result the Lake is popular with walkers, joggers and bike riders.
Eight fitness stations have been installed in four part of the eastern side of the Lake. In addition, boat ramps are located at Bosley Park on the lake’s western side, and at Apex Park on the eastern side.
Also, at Apex Park is a children’s playground. This playground has a separate fenced area for smaller children.
In conclusion, Lake Albert is family friendly and great for families visiting Wagga Wagga. Check out the Councils website for more information regarding Lake Albert.
Wagga Beach is a great attraction for the city’s Riverside precinct. It’s like an oasis in the city, just 5 minutes from the CBD.
Wagga Beach is located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. As a result, there are plenty of grassed, shady spots for a picnic. Also in the area are sheltered barbecue areas, a playground and loads of public seating.
Wagga Beach is also part of the Wiradjuri Walking Track. It has a large car park for parking boats, trailers or caravans.
In 2019 Wagga Beach was named in the top 20 beaches of 2020 by Tourism Australia’s beach ambassador Brad Farmer. And yes…..there is sand.
Check out more details regarding Wagga Beach via the City of Wagga Wagga’s website.
Willans Hill Miniature Railway
If you are planning on bringing the kids through Wagga Wagga take them here.
The railway is located in the Wagga Wagga botanic gardens. It has three seperate routes for visitors to enjoy. The main line is the shortest route and runs within the botanical gardens itself.
The second line is known as the museum line. In addition, this takes riders under Lord Baden Powell Drive over to the Riverina car park.
The third line is known as the spiral line. This is true to its name and runs around a spiral and then returns via either the museum line or the main line.
A new addition to the club is a new locomotive, The T387. This locomotive had its maiden run on the tracks in October 2018.
The Willans Hill Miniature Railway is open on the first and third Sunday of each month. The railway also does the occasional special run day which are advertised on their Facebook page.
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Bars and Restaurants
Friendly atmosphere, great food and awesome drink selection. The Birdhouse Bar is the perfect spot to get your evening started.
In addition, it is located right in the heart of the CBD on Baylis Street. The Birdhouse Bar’s ideal location means heading out after a great meal is easy.
Inside you’ll find a bricked bar area full of rustic charm. In addition outside boasts a compact beer garden. This area is cosy, bright and has a sense of fun to it.
The menu options cater to people of all tastes and preferences. Also, the drinks menu has a great range of cocktails and wines.
Thirsty Crow Brewing Co.
Thirsty Crow Brewpub is the place to go if you love craft beer and cider. The Brewpub is also the working site of the famous Thirsty Crow Brewing Co.
The brews created here have won numerous national awards. Its easy to see why. I’m not a big fan of craft beer. But the beer brewed here is crisp, flavourful and refreshing.
In addition, the friendly service and buzzing atmosphere amkes this a great place to visit. If it’s a decent feed you need the Brewpub has you covered. The great menu is available all day and night.
The Brewery runs Tours on Saturday & Sunday starting from 2pm. They are extremely popular. Therefore, you will need to book to secure a spot.
Que Wagga: The Deck, Franks and the Playground Nightclub
Que Wagga is a local institution. It is the go-to place for a night out. Que Wagga hasseveral options available to those looking to party the night away.
It is situated on Baylis Street. Que Wagga has three main areas for guests to enjoy.
This area is exactly as it sounds. The deck is a massive alfresco dinning area. As a result it is perfect for lazy summer afternoons and warm evenings. This is the place to start your night out.
This is an old-fashioned bar. Pool tables and big screen TV’s provide the entertainment, the friendly staff provide the refreshments. By evening Franks transforms into Wagga Wagga’s premier live music venue.
The Playground Nightclub
Younger visitors with stamina on the dancefloor will love the Playground nightclub. It hosts guest DJ’s every Saturday, an amazing lightshow and massive bar for easy drink service. Check it out on Instagram.
Wagga RSL Club and Commercial Club
Wow, this place is surprising. Modern, functional and full of fun. You need to check out the incredible complex.
The Wagga RSL and Commercial Club are committed to giving back to their community. The support several community groups and organisations in the city through sponsorships and other initiatives. Around half a million dollars was donated to a variety of community causes last year.
The amazing venue offers plenty of dining options, outdoor terraces, bars, promotions, functions and entertainment. The Wagga RSL is open daily from 7am for breakfast and the Commercial Club is open daily from 10am.
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Getting back to Nature
Victory Memorial Gardens
These beautiful gardens are located in the heart of the city. They are set on 2 hectares of land and are manicured and lovingly tendered.
The Gardens are also popular with families and children. Young kids will enjoy feeding the ducks or playing in the playground. It is also a popular location for a relaxing picnic lunch.
Throughout the Gardens are various memorials. As a result they are a great place to read up on local war history. These including areas include The Cenotaph and dedications to the First and Second World Wars, and the Vietnam War.
A feature of the Gardens in ANZAC Avenue which was a project completed in 2009. This project was a collaboration between the local RSL club and the City Council.
Anzac Avenue runs along The Esplanade from the Beckwith Street bridge. As a result it is great for an afternoon stroll. This is also plenty of shade provided by trees along the avenue.
Check out with the Victory Memorial Gardens have to offer via the Wagga Wagga councils website.
The Marrambidya Wetland is a 20-hectare reserve located alongside the Murrumbidgee River. The name was selected to honour the indigenous name of the Murrumbidgee River.
The wetlands provides habitat for birds, frogs, fish and mammals. These mammals include the locally threatened Squirrel Glider.
It was officially opened in Winter 2016 following 5 years of planning and construction. Since its opening it has provided an excellent nature experience for locals and visitors.
The Wiradjuri Walking track runs through the wetlands and is a great place to take a brisk walk or an evening stroll.
In addition, six storytelling devices have been installed at the wetland. These share stories with visitors regarding local flora and fauna. Also they contain about the Murrumbidgee River.
Check out the Council’s website for more information about the Wetland project.
Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens
The Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens began in 1961 with the first trees planted the following year. The main driving force behind the gardens was Tom Wood. Mr Woods was appointed by the council of the day to oversee the project. As a result, a drive in the gardens is named after him.
The Gardens were redeveloped during Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Features added during the redevelopment included the model railway, the music bowl outdoor entertainment area and the fitness trail.
The Botanic Gardens house an amazing rose garden and an Australian native plant section. In addition, kids will love the Wagga Wagga Zoo which features over 90 species of animals.
The Garden Court Restaurant are also located in the gardens. This caters for formal, private functions and is open to the public at certain times. In addition, there are several walking trails and rest stops throughout the gardens. These all offer great views.
You will need a full day to enjoy everything the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens has to offer. Check out more details on the attractions on offer by clicking here.
Livingstone National Park and State Conservation Area
Livingstone National Park and Conservation Area is a short, 20-minute drive from Wagga Wagga.
The park is perfect for camping, mountain bike riding, horse riding and birdwatching. Livingstone National Park and Conservation Area contains close to 2,000ha of bushland.
In spring the colourful, native wildflowers are on display. These also including several species of orchids. Other species to look out for include Austral indigo, kangaroo thorn and clustered everlasting.
There are several walking tracks that are an easy treks for hikers. In addition, birdwatchers will see many threatened woodland birds, including turquoise and swift parrots.
Other fauna in this area include eastern grey kangaroos, wombats and goannas. The Park is a great place to spend a few days exploring. Therefore, I rate it the best nature-based experience in Wagga Wagga.
Check out more details regarding the park here.
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Shop till you Drop
This specialty shop has a great range of products and is a great place to pick up a unique gift. My Shed offers inspirational, authentic furniture, homewares and gifts.
Acquiring a love for discovering the provenance and stories behind remarkable pieces, My Shed now in its 15th year endeavours to follow a passion of journey to dream, explore and to share.
My Shed is open Monday through Saturday and is located at 108 Fitzmaurice Street. Worth calling in for a look to see their range for yourself. Details on opening times can be found here.
Shopping is made easy at Wagga Wagga’s Sturt Mall. The Shopping Centre is conveniently located in the CBD. It is home to Coles and Kmart plus 43 specialty stores all on a single level.
Those specialty stores include popular fashion retailers including Sports-girl, Always Alice, Dotti and Just Jeans.
There are many cafes and eateries on site for those seeking a quick bite or a long lunch. These include The Gatsby Cafe, Muffin Break, Bread Crock or Cafe Cucina.
Wagga Wagga Marketplace
The is the biggest Shopping Centre in the city and has the most extensive range of stores. The Wagga Wagga Marketplace contains over 70 specialty stores. Big chain stores include Woolworths and Big W. The Que Bar (discussed in the Bars and restaurants section above) is also located on this site.
The location of the Wagga Wagga Marketplace couldn’t be better for locals and visitors. You’ll find it on Baylis Street, right in the centre of Wagga Wagga’s CBD.
The amenities of this shopping mecca make it perfect for young families. There is a dedicated parent’s room which contains private feeding rooms for newborns. The food court looks after youngsters by providing highchairs.
For older shoppers there is lift access and provides easy access for mobility scooters. More details on opening hours and store listings can be found via the Wagga Wagga Marketplaces website.
South City Shopping Centre
This smaller centre is modern and offers plenty to keep shoppers happy. Coles and The Reject Shop are the major tenants here. There are also 15 specialty stores providing convenient shopping for visitors.
South City Shopping Centre offers a pharmacy, newsagent a BWS outlet and several food options. I found it to be the cleanest shopping centre in the town and perfect for those looking to get in and get out quickly.
Store listings and a map of the precinct can be found via the South City Shopping Centre’s website.
Wagga Wagga Markets
Wollundry Saturday Markets
Over 35 stall holders set up regularly at these Saturday only markets. They are held at the Civic Precinct around the Wollundry Lagoon.
Stall holders offer goods including food stalls along with a including a variety of fruit ‘n veg and homewares.
Their Facebook page is the place to go for more details.
Markets by the Lake
The Markets by the Lake are held on the last Saturday of the month. They also have special events for Easter Saturday and a Christmas market. They are closed in June and July.
Lake Albert provides the ideal setting for a pop-up market like this. I had an incredible bacon and egg roll here. I can’t to get back and have another one!
These markets usually feature local produce, arts, crafts and several surprises. You are guaranteed to find something unique at these markets. Check their Facebook page for details.
River & Wren Boutique Markets
River and Wren is a beautiful country market held just 6 times per year. It offers a diverse range of quality on-trend handmade products.
These markets are held indoors and host more than 120 market stalls at every event. If you are lucky enough to be visiting Wagga Wagga when these markets are on, they are a must see.
Riverina Producers’ Market
These markets are held every Thursday afternoon. If you are looking for the best in Wagga Wagga produce, this this the place to go.
The markets are held near the Wagga Showgrounds on the corner of Urana Street and Bourke Street. They exclusively support local farmers and businesses.
Goods available at the Producers Markets include bread, milk, cheese, eggs, pork, lamb, beef, fruit, vegies, home baking, oysters and berries. If it’s fresh, its at these markets.
Things to do in Wagga Wagga: Conclusion
Wagga Wagga is a city rich in cultural heritage and currently day significance. More importantly for visitors, there is so many great things to do here.
Wagga Wagga is where the city meets the bush. The locals are friendly, the experiences varied and the memories long lasting.
I can’t wait to get back to Wagga Wagga and add to this list. Have you been to Wagga Wagga yourself? Did I miss anything on this list that you really enjoyed? Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.
Also check out our related posts which introduce other parts of regional Australia and the world to our regular readers. Happy travels!