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Albury, New South Wales

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Albury, as viewed from the War Memorial
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Albury, as viewed from the War Memorial

Albury (postcode: 2640, Template:Coor dm) is a city in New South Wales, located on the Hume Highway on the northern side of the Murray River. Its population is 42 438 (2001 Census). It is approximately 550 km from the state capital Sydney, but only 300 km from the Victorian capital Melbourne. It is separated by the Murray from its twin city in Victoria, Wodonga. Of all the twin towns on the Murray, it is the only one where the larger town is on the NSW side of the river.

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History

Albury was founded mainly as a customs post when Victoria and New South Wales were independent colonies which imposed tariffs on each other's goods. Albury's proximity to Wodonga has spurred several efforts to achieve some kind of municipal governmental union (see Albury-Wodonga).

Originally New South Wales and Victoria had different railway gauges, which meant that all travellers in either direction had to change trains at Albury and it became the busiest station in Australia. To accommodate this, a very long railway platform was needed, and in fact it was the longest in the Southern hemisphere. Despite this, several conferences pivotal in Australia's federation into a nation were held not at Albury but at the nearby town of Corowa. Sited on the main Melbourne-Sydney highway, Albury remains a major transit point of interstate commerce. It is now the only major town on the Hume Highway that the highway does not bypass. There is a local airport which has scheduled daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne.

Victoria Cross recipient Albert Chalmers Borella is buried in Albury, and the road leading from Albury Airport to the town is named Borella Road in his honor.

Economy

As well as serving the agricultural communities surrounding the area, the city is the home of a large pulp mill which processes the pine logs planted in the mountains to the east, an engineering plant which produces automatic transmissions for cars, and other smaller secondary industries.

Albury serves as a regional media centre. A daily tabloid, The Border Mail, is produced there and serves the area. One of the local television stations, Prime Television, also produces a regional news bulletin, and there are three local commercial radio stations. The ABC produces a local morning radio program, but the rest of their content consists of rebroadcasts from Melbourne, which is the source of most state-based media imported to Albury. There are also three commercial radio stations, as well a community station and a Reading for the Print Handicapped station.

Albury is home to one of the three campuses of Charles Sturt University.

Sport

Albury is a stronghold of Australian rules football; further north rugby league is the main winter sport. The local Ovens and Murray league is one of the strongest regional leagues in Victoria, and many players from it have gone on to play in the Australian Football League, including Haydn Bunton, widely regarded as one of the sport's all-time greats.

Albury is the birthplace of women's tennis player Margaret Smith Court, basketballer Lauren Jackson and cricketer Steve Rixon, among other champion sportspeople.

The Albury Gold Cup horse race is major autumn event for the district. In 2005 it attracted a record crowd in excess of 18,600 racegoers. [1] (http://www.bordermail.com.au/newsflow/pageitem?page_id=938269)

Tourism

The region surrounding Albury provides a wide variety of tourist attractions, including the wineries of Rutherglen, the historic goldfields towns of Beechworth and Yackandandah, the Hume Weir, boating and fishing on the many rivers and lakes (activities very popular with the locals), the forests of the Great Dividing Range and slightly further afield are many of Australia's snowfields. Albury itself, however, is not a major tourist destination. The paddle steamer Cumberoona runs tours along the Murray during the summer months (depending on river levels), and Monument Hill (home to the city's War Memorial) provides a good view of the city.

Culture

There is strong regional theatre scene, most notably the Murray River Performing Group (MRPG), which spawned the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, and these days conducts many productions through the Hothouse Theatre located between Albury and Wodonga. Many notable actors and comics have performed with the MRPG. Touring productions also often tour through the area.

Politics

Albury is the main city in the Federal electorate of Farrer, and the local state electorate.

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