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MI marked the anniversary of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area with program of events throughout 2012. The one-hundred year milestone provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the past, to honour the pioneers of the MIA, and acknowledge their foresight, their endurance, and their commitment to the success of this irrigation area.
The Centenary of Irrigation included a 10-month program of events, incorporating a gala dinner, community open day, historical displays, DVD launch and field tours around the region.
The Irrigation Record was a fortnightly journal published by the WC&IC from 1913 to 1917. It has been digitisation as part of the MIA Centenary and is now available to search online through the State Library's TROVE website. Articles reflect the developmental period of life in a very harsh environment, and covered significant developments in the area such as the establishment of agricultural industry, along with stories of the endeavours of the settlers to build a community.
Historical photographs, depicting the construction of the MIA’s channel system, and the beginnings of local farms and communities, provided a snapshot of life in the region a century ago. The photographs show the pioneering spirit and determination which enabled the MIA to become one of Australia’s most valuable food production areas. The exhibition was one of the first celebrations of the MIA Centenary of Irrigation and formed a travelling display, shown at various locations in Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera.
The MIA Centenary was launched in March 2012 at the late Sir Samuel McCaughey's homestead (now Yanco Agricultural High School). Former Member for Riverina, Kay Hull, was the Master of Ceremonies, and was joined by descendants of pioneering families who were instrumental in the development of irrigation and farming in the MIA.
Almost 600 local school students participated in an education program at both Pioneer Park and Griffith City Library, that celebrated the centenary of the MIA and focused on the importance of irrigation.
On July 13, 1912, Minister for Works, Arthur Griffith winched open a sluice gate at Yanco Regulator allowing water to surge in to the channel system for the first time. One hundred years later, the "Turning on the Water" ceremony was re-enacted at the original site.
A wall collage depicting the development f the MIA is now on permanent display in the entrance of the MI Business Centre in Hanwood.
A commemorative DVD celebrating 100 years of irrigation in the MIA is available from MI offices, or the Griffith Visitors Centre at a cost of $20 (+ postage).
A cocktail evening was held for Centenary guests, including Professor Marie Bashir AC, CVO, at the Historic Hydro on 13 July 2012.
Hosted by Dr Karl, the premier event of the centenary celebrations showcased our region, paying tribute to our pioneers and acknowledging the diversity and innovation that we enjoy today.
Two field trips took visitors to properties in the Griffith and Leeton areas. The guided tours focused on the history of the area, and modern and efficient irrigation structures and environment initiatives.
A centenary citrus sculpture was created as part of the Griffith Festival of Gardens and was on display during October 2012.
MI welcomed visitors to our Hanwood Business Centre on 19 October. A reunion breakfast was also held for former employees of the WC&IC, the commission, the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Land and Water Conservation and Murrumbidgee Irrigation.
Other events included photo displays at Pioneer Park and Central Mall in Griffith, floats in the Easter Sunrice Festival parade in Leeton, and a series of Pioneer Talks at the Griffith City Library. MI also part sponsored the refurbishment of the Waterwheel Monument near the Griffith Visitors Centre. Leeton Town Band and Yanco Agricultural High School were given $500 donations for programs they ran during the year as an “in-kind” acknowledgment of their donation to our centenary events.
Photos from the July events are available on the Centenary Photos link which include the re-enactment of the 'Turning on the Water' at Yanco, and the Gala Dinner in Griffith with guest speaker Dr Karl.
Download Centenary Program (PDF)