Wagga Wagga is a vibrant regional city that rests on the banks of the beautiful Murrumbidgee River. It may seem like a big country town, but its rich culture, history and heritage combined with its modern facilities and infrastructure make it a fast growing destination.
It is easily accessible as it is strategically located between the Sturt and Olympic Highways, just a comfortable 5-hour drive or 1-hour flight to Sydney and Melbourne and only a 2 and a half hour drive to Australia’s capital Canberra. Its strategic location has also made it an ideal location for several national businesses that have established their operations in the city. Below are some more interesting facts about this city that make it a remarkable place to visit, live and work.
1. Wagga Wagga is widely recognised as the “City of Good Sports” because many of Australia’s sporting heroes came from this city including former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor, rugby legend Peter Sterling and AFL great Paul Kelly. Other great athletes from Wagga also include cricketers Geoff Lawson and Michael Slater, tennis player Tony Roche and AFL player Wayne Carey.
Its sporting history dates back to the 1850s when it was referred to as “a sporting little town”. During that time, majority of the population was male and the popular sports included hunting, shooting, prize fights, foot races and horse racing. It was only during the 1870s that team sports such as cricket and football was played.
2. The name of the city is derived from the Aboriginal dialect used by the Wiradjuri tribe, the original inhabitants of the city. Wagga Wagga means “the place of many crows”. The Murrumbidgee River also received its name from this dialect and means “plenty water” or “big river”.
3. In 1829, Captain Charles Sturt was the first explorer to set foot in Wagga Wagga. Settlement soon followed his discovery of the city. In 1849, Thomas Townshend surveyed the main city area and officially proclaimed it a town that same year. Today, the name of Charles Sturt can be seen throughout the city.
4. Wagga Wagga has a long and proud military history that dates back to more than 120 years. In 1885, many men and women of the city enlisted to be part of many military campaigns including the Boer War, World War I and II, Vietnam War and Gulf War. Australia’s only Field Marshal, Sir Thomas Blamey was also born in the city in 1884. Today, Wagga has two military facilities that cater to the training of the Australian Army and the Australian Air Force.
5. In 1974, Wagga Wagga was flooded when the Murrumbidgee River reached a massive level of 10.74 metres. It was the highest level recorded in the 20th century.
6. Wagga Wagga is home to some of the finest sports and training facilities in Australia such as the Oasis Regional Aquatic Centre, the Jubilee Park Sports Complex that hosts athletics, hockey, touch football and rugby, the Robertson Oval that hosts Australian football and cricket and the Jim Elphick Tennis Complex. The city also houses two golf courses, an 18-hole par three course, an excellent speedway and a clay target shooting range.
7. Wagga Wagga is a local mecca for culture and heritage with its stunning galleries, museums and city library. The city’s galleries and museums showcase some of the finest artworks by international and Australian artists. Meanwhile, the city library has earned several awards for its innovative service and community interaction.
8. Wagga Wagga is considered a regional centre for education. The city has 24 primary schools, 8 secondary schools, 25 pre-school and childcare centres. it is also home to the renowned Charles Sturt University. There are also several schools for the physically and mentally disabled students.
9. Chiko Rolls, the popular Australian hot snack, originated in Wagga Wagga. The Chiko Roll was invented by Francis Gerald McEncroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo and first made its appearance at the Wagga Wagga show in 1951.
10. Tourism is one of the major industries in the city. In fact, the Tourist Information Centre was established as early as 1979. The Wagga Wagga City Council is in charge of promoting the city’s tourism. The business sectors that service the tourism industry include Wagga hotels, motels, Wagga accommodation, serviced apartments, bed and breakfast, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and clubs. Cultural and sporting events such as the Wagga Wagga Gold Cup, Jazz Festival, Youth Arts Fest and National Horse Festival also draw more people to the city.