Griffith, NSW, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

THE ONE TOUR

What better way to explore the bountiful food-growing and wine-making Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area with its rich Italian heritage than with a tour company founded by a local Australian-Italian in the form of Cassandra Cadorin and her team. Cadorin's Bella Vita Tours runs group and personalised visits to local wineries, restaurants and cafes. Here's proof that there's much more to Griffith, an undisputed success story of Australian multiculturalism, than the odd unflattering headline over the years suggests. See bellavitariverinatours.com.au

THE ONE RESTAURANT

Chef making fresh pasta at Zecca Restaurant, Griffith.

Photo: Destination NSW

Once a bastion of old-fashioned Italian fare (and, to an extent, it still is), Griffith has seen a shake-up by new generations of Australian-Italians returning from careers in the cities and overseas. Everyone in Griffith swears by Zecca, a tourist fare-free Italian restaurant set inside a stunningly remodelled Rural Bank building on Banna Avenue, Griffith's long, bustling main thoroughfare. As well as a menu dedicated to "cucina regionale", there's a full selection of Zecca's own homemade pastas and other delights for sale. See zeccagriffith.com.au

THE ONE WINERY

Perhaps Griffith's distance from the main tourism markets of Sydney and Melbourne is to blame for the fact that none of the region's wineries have yet opened a full cellar door restaurant of note. One winery filling the gaping food and wine gap is Yarran Wines at Yenda, a short drive from town. The winery's cellar door, stocking the label's highly-rated drops, is slightly elevated, allowing sightlines straight across the vines, planted right up to the building, and beyond to the hills of Cocoparra National Park. Plonk yourself down and savour the views accompanied by classy Yarran drops over a tasting plate of fine regional produce. See yarranwines.com.au

THE ONE PASTICCERIA

A Griffith institution dating to the early 1950s, Bertoldo's Pasticceria, located mid-way along Banna Avenue, is, with its array of delights, straight out of old world Leichhardt or Carlton. Tuck in at the al fresco footpath tables with a cappuccino and a panino or pastry (or perhaps a bowl of the excellent homemade gelati), where a passing Griffith-ite may even bid you good day in Italian.

THE ONE VIEW

Couple enjoying the scenic views over Griffith from Hermit's Cave and Lookout.

Photo: Destination NSW

When visiting the aptly-named Scenic Hill, part of McPherson Range, for its vistas over Griffith's green patchwork of irrigated farmlands, it's possible to overlook a fascinating piece of local folklore. This elevated spot was once the home to Valerio Ricetti, an eccentric Italian immigrant who lived as a hermit in a cave. His extraordinary life comes alive in a signposted heritage walk which includes his former home. You can visit here independently or as part of a tour with Bella Vita (see above). See bellavitariverinatours.com.au

THE ONE STAY

Griffith, like a lot of towns in NSW, lacks quality interesting boutique accommodation, with the best choice being a relative newcomer. Handily located across a war memorial park from buzzy Banna Avenue, the modern Quest Apartments offer snazzily-designed one and two-bedroom apartments each equipped with kitchenettes. There's no restaurant on site but you hardly need one with the array of eateries from which to choose from just a short and pleasant stroll away. See questapartments.com.au

THE ONE MUSEUM

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Although you'll notice on a visit that Griffith is palpably one of NSW's most multicultural centres, the town of almost 30,000 doesn't accentuate  its fascinating Italian heritage nearly enough. To learn more about its profound contribution to not only Griffith but the surrounding region, head to the Italian Museum and Cultural Centre. Part of the Pioneer Park heritage precinct near the airport, the museum traces Italian immigration to the area since the 1900s. There's even a new bocce court in the works where visitors can hone their skills in the Italian equivalent of petanque and bowls. See griffith.nsw.gov.au

THE ONE GROCER

Here's yet another Griffith Italo-Australian gem. The family-owned La Piccola Grosseria and Italian Deli, a tiny though unmissable hole-in-the-wall on Banna Avenue, stocks all manner of Italian delights, including homemade sweets. If nothing else, pop your head into La Piccola for a take-away espresso to savour the authentic Italian ambience and craic. See griffith.nsw.gov.au

THE ONE SIDE-TRIP

Although there's enough to keep you enthralled in Griffith for at least a few days, do take the 50 minutes or so drive through patchwork orchards and vineyards to Leeton, another major MIA town. This famed rice-growing centre, designed by Walter Burley Griffin, boasts  interesting art deco architecture dominated by the wonderful Roxy Theatre, built in 1930. Inside the nearby Leeton Museum and Gallery, housed within the gorgeous 1937 former Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission Building, there's a fascinating (really) exhibition on the profound role that H20 has played in developing the region's agricultural might. See theriverina.com.au

ONE MORE THING…

As an alternative to driving, Qantas recently introduced daily services to Griffith from Sydney. The flights take a tad over an hour and a half aboard a comfortable 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft. See qantas.com

Anthony Dennis visited Griffith as a guest of Destination NSW and Qantas. See visitnsw.comtheriverina.com.au

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