Hume Dam, near Albury, first began controlling
flows into the Murray River in 1925. With the regulation
of the Murray now possible the NSW Water
Conservation and Irrigation Commission began plans
for irrigationin the Southern Riverina.
In addition to the Wakool Irrigation District, fed
from the Edward River, the WC&IC approved the
further development of the Berriquin and Deniboota
These new districts required the construction of a
major irrigation channel, their own “man-made river”
known as the Mulwala Canal.
The canal draws its water from the Murray River at
Lake Mulwala and stretches 156km to the west
through Berrigan, Finley and Deniliquin.
Construction of the Mulwala Canal and Yarrawonga
Weir began in 1935. Both projects provided significant
employment relief during the Depression.
More than 500 men, employed labourers and contractors,
were working on the Mulwala Canal at any
one time when construction was in full swing.
Four imported 130 ton Bucyrus Erie dragline excavators
worked in shifts 24 hours a day on the Mulwala,
excavating up to a mile a week.
By 1939 Yarrawonga Weir was completed, and the
Mulwala Canal and many associated branch channels
had been completed as far as Finley.
The first water in the Berriquin District was
officially delivered in April 1939, with NSW
Premier Alex Mair conducting the official
opening on a farm east of Finley.
The Power of Water
The Mulwala Canal is the largest irrigation supply
channel in Australia. Its initial capacity of 10,000ML a
day rivals some reaches of the Murray River itself.
The energy generated by the water in the canal has
been harnessed through the construction of a 2.5
megawatt hydro electric plant on the canal at The Drop
between Berrigan and Finley.
The hydro plant, pictured above under construction in
2002, can produce enough green power for about 1500
homes. Photo: MIL Collection.