Deniliquin, known locally as "Deni", is a town in the Riverina region of New South Wales close to the border with Victoria.
Deniliquin is located at the intersection of the Riverina and Cobb Highway approximately 725 kilometres (450 mi) south west of the state capital, Sydney and 285 kilometres (177 mi) north of Melbourne. The town is divided in two parts by the Edward River, an anabranch of the Murray River, with the main business district located on the south bank.
The town services a productive agricultural district with prominent rice, wool and timber industries. At the 2006 census, Deniliquin had a population of 7,431. In the 2001 census the population of Deniliquin was 7,781.
Prior to European settlement, The Aboriginal inhabitants of the Deniliquin area were the Barapa Baraba people.
In 1843 the entrepreneur and speculator Benjamin Boyd acquired land in the vicinity of present-day Deniliquin (probably via his agent Augustus Morris). The location was known as The Sandhills, but Boyd (or Morris) named it Deniliquin after 'Denilakoon', a local Aborigine famed for his wrestling prowess. An inn and a punt were established on the site in the period 1845-47 and the town site was surveyed in 1848 and gazetted in 1850. Deniliquin Post Office opened on 1 January 1850.
In 1853, William John Wills of the Burke and Wills expedition worked as a shepherd at the Royal Bank sheep station near Deniliquin.
As Deniliquin was established on the convergence of major stock routes between the colonies of Queensland, New South Wales and the Victorian gold rush centres of Victoria, it soon became an important river crossing and the first bridge was built over the Edward River in 1861. The Deniliquin and Moama Railway Company built a private railway in 1879 to connect with Moama, across the Murray River from the busy river port of Echuca, connected by rail to Melbourne.
Wool growing quickly became a major industry and the area around Deniliquin was home to several Merino studs. In 1861, George Hall Peppin and his two sons, experienced English sheep breeders, established a Merino stud at Wanganella station, north of Deniliquin. There, the brothers developed the Peppin Merino, able to thrive in drier inland regions. Today, as many as 70 per cent of Merinos in Australia are said to be directly descended from these sheep.
In the 1860s, Deniliquin was the centre of a short-lived campaign by wealthy pastoralists including Peppin, George Desailly, Robert Landale and William Brodribb for secession from New South Wales and the creation of a new Riverina colony. This campaign was supported by David Jones, the editor of the local newspaper the Pastoral Times.
On 19 December 1868, Deniliquin was constituted as The Municipality of Deniliquin, and the first Municipal Election was held on 23 February 1869. In 1993 the enactment of the Local Government Act (NSW) saw the name of the council changed from the Municipality of Deniliquin to the Deniliquin Council.
Large-scale irrigation schemes came to the Deniliquin area with the establishment of the Deniboota and Denimein Irrigation Districts in 1938 and the Berriquin Irrigation District in 1939, using water diverted from the Murray River at Lake Mulwala through the Mulwala Canal. An ample and reliable water supply led to the development of water intensive industries such as rice growing.
In April 2006 the Herald Sun reported on their front cover that the Edward River was dry, with an accompanying photograph showing a dry creek. This was later revealed to be erroneous; the photograph was of an unknown channel on a farm within 60 kilometres (37 mi) of Deniliquin, while the Edward River is in fact still running. Deniliquin Council and members of the Deniliquin community have since attempted to rectify the damage to local tourism by improving the profile of Deniliquin in various media outlets.