Digging Mulwala Canal

The Drop

Located only 15kms to the south, between Berrigan and Barooga is ‘The Drop’, Australia’s first hydroelectric power station on an irrigation canal, the Mulwala Canal. The power station had a generating capacity of 2.5 MW of electricity which is enough to power 1,600 homes daily with clean renewable energy.  The Mulwala Canal is the largest irrigation channel in the Southern Hemisphere. The canal, stretches 156km diverting water from the Murray River at Lake Mulwala across the southern Riverina plain, through the Berrigan Shire, to the south of Berrigan, on to the Edward River at Deniliquin, providing water for the southern Riverina towns of Berrigan, Finley, Bunnaloo and Wakool, and as well as agricultural properties.

[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.

The creation of the Mulwala Canal led to an increase in population to the region after World War II, with cattle, sheep and cereal farming (rice, wheat, sorghum, oats, legumes and high-quality malting barley), pigs, dairying, citrus fruit, tomatoes, potatoes and grapes.

Pictured are two Bucyrus Erie dragline excavators working on the Mulwala Canal project, courtesy of the State Water Archives Collection.

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