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The Birrapa Birrapa and Wamba Wamba Aboriginal people are thought to have been the traditional custodians of the land along the Edward River just north of where New South Wales borders Victoria. Deniliquin is said to take its name from the local Aboriginal leader 'Denilakoon'. Grazier Benjamin Boyd would establish Deniliquin Station a few kilometres from where the town currently stands in 1842 and was soon joined by other livestock and sheep farmers. To service this growing community an inn was soon built and a punt established to take people across the river and in 1848 a town with the name Sandhills was surveyed.
The success of the Australian wool industry is in part to Deniliquin sheep farmer George Hall Peppin who took up Wanganella Run with his sons in 1858. By breeding Rambouillet rams with specifically selected Australian bred ewes they developed a breed of Merino sheep better suited to the Australian climate which would produce a higher quantity of better quality wool. It is guessed that the majority of Merino Sheep in Australia today descend from the Wanganella Merino studs.
The 1870s and 1880s were a boom time in Deniliquin's history, with a bridge crossing the Edward River finally uniting the town, a large hospital built, schools and churches constructed and a private railway line linking the town with the Victorian border town of Echuca. Deniliquin was well set up to become to service centre for the surrounding towns and districts, and with the introduction of irrigation crops in the early 1900s, accommodating the population growth would require extensions to existing schools and hospitals. With both dry-land and irrigated regions within its farming land, Deniliquin is one of the most successful high-water irrigation areas in New South Wales. With rice proving to be one of the more lucrative irrigation crops grown locally, the largest rice mill in the southern hemisphere operates out of Deniliquin today. Home to the world’s largest Red Gum forest, logging provides another vital part of the local economy with local sawmills processing the wood felled in the Edward and Murray River floodplains.
Today Deniliquin is perhaps better known for its annual World Record Ute Muster than its sheep farming, yet the town continues to thrive based on its agricultural successes.