|Avg. Annual Growth (2006-11)
|Growth Rate 2006-11
||2688 km sq.
|Key Industry Sectors
||Health Care and Social Assistance, Retail Trade and Manufacturing
||Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AREA
Situated approximately 110 kilometres southwest of Sydney
on the Hume Highway and the main southern rail line, the Wingecarribee
Local Government Area is blessed with a stunning rural landscape.
The area’s rich agricultural soils produce lush green
countryside renowned for its very ‘English’ scenic
The 2,700 square kilometre area that makes up the Wingecarribee
LGA is commonly referred to as the Southern Highlands due
to its position, on a spur of the Great Dividing Range, some
700 metres above sea level. The area’s eastern boarder
runs parallel to the coast 55 kilometres inland and is defined
by the Illawarra Escarpment.
There are three major towns – Bowral, Mittagong and
Moss Vale – which provide the majority of the area’s
commercial and industrial infrastructure. Bowral is the commercial
hub of the Wingecarribee and home to some of the most charming
country homes and gardens in New South Wales. Mittagong is
the regional centre for industry, particularly manufacturing,
and Moss Vale is the focal point for the Shire’s local
According to latest Census figures released by the Australian Bureau
of Statistics, the population of the Wingecarribee
LGA stood at 44,395 persons in 2011. This figure represented
an increase in population of 5.0% since 2006.
Between 2006 and 2011, the population grew at an
average annual rate of 1.0%. Future population growth in the region is expected to be relatively
strong. The NSW Department of Planning has predicted that
by the year 2021 the Wingecarribee will become home to approximately 65,000
residents. Much of this future growth will come from Sydney
residents relocating to the area.
At the time of the 2011 Census, the Wingecarribee LGA had
a total labour force of 20,104 of which 95.8% were employed.
Over one third (35.1%) of the workforce is employed in either
professional or managerial occupations and 26.0% are
employed as tradespeople and labourers.
The region’s economy is founded on a strong base of
industrial and agricultural activity, however, as is the case
in the rest of the Illawarra, tertiary industries such as
retail trade, tourism, property and business services and
health and community services are becoming more dominant in
the local economy.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business
Register, there were 5,218 business counts operating in
the Wingecarribee LGA in 2011, a 4.0% decrease from the 5,433 operating in 2006. Of these, 11.6% were agricultural, forestry or fishing enterprises, down from 14.6% in 2006.
Traditionally, the area’s agricultural activity has comprised
of dairy farming, cattle grazing, potato farming and mushroom
farming. However, an increase in the value of rural land in
recent years has led to the introduction of more intensive
forms of agricultural land use such as berry farming, viticulture,
organic vegetable production and horse breeding and training. 12.6% of businesses in the region were in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services sector.
The area also has robust construction and retail sectors.
In the year to September 2012, the total non-residential value of buildings approved
for construction in the Wingecarribee was approximately $11.1 Million, while residential building for the same time period contributed $13.3 Million to the local economy.
As with the rest of the Illawarra, the fact that the Wingecarribee
LGA is so close to Australia’s largest market in Sydney
is a very big competitive advantage. However, an added advantage
for the Wingecarribee is the fact that the nation’s major
road and rail arteries cut directly through its major commercial
and industrial centres. The Hume Highway and southern rail
line cut through Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale and are ideally
situated for local businesses that require road and rail access
to major national markets.
Perhaps the area’s most significant opportunity for
economic development will occur over the next decade, with
the potential construction of the high-speed rail link between Sydney
and Canberra. The proposed route will pass through the Wingecarribee,
stopping at either Bowral or Mittagong. The new link will
cut the travel time between Bowral and Sydney to around half
an hour, immediately enticing large numbers of Sydneysiders
to move to the tranquil country setting and commute to work
in the city.
The Wingecarribee’s vast physical expanse provides an
abundance of land suitable for agricultural and industrial
purposes. Many investors are taking advantage of the area’s
temperate climate and rich agricultural soils to pursue new
and innovative agricultural activities. An increasing amount
of the area’s agricultural activity is centred on value-added
products such as cut flowers and wine grape growing. Manufacturing
businesses seeking to relocate or expand into the area are
provided with a wealth of land, with the main industrial estates
at Braemar and Moss Vale offering industrial blocks of various
sizes up to several hectares.
Apart from its rich organic soil and vast area, the Wingecarribee
has a substantial array of raw mineral resources. The area’s
hard rock, gravel, sand and coal resources are mined regularly.
The hard rock quarries at Colo Vale and Berrima are used by
many of Sydney’s largest construction firms.
The Wingecarribee LGA is a popular tourist destination all
year round, helping make the tourism industry an important
contributor to the local economy. The area has one of the
highest levels of tourist expenditure of any non-coastal local
government area in NSW. In the year to December 2007 tourist
accommodation establishments in the area gained nearly $16.3
million in takings from accommodation.
The area’s tourism appeal largely stems from its stunning
rural setting and abundance of National Parks combined with
the charm of its many villages, townships and historic buildings.
The quaint little village of Berrima is a fascinating example
of Australia’s colonial beginnings with its old sandstone
buildings, craft shops and restaurants acting as a magnet
for thousands of tourists. The Bowral Tulip Time Festival
in October attracts an estimated quarter of a million visitors
The significant natural attributes of the area indicate that
tourism offers one of the best prospects for future economic
growth in the Wingecarribee. Its uniquely rich rural setting
provides excellent opportunities for the marketing of specific
niche tourism products such as farm tourism and Eco-tourism.
Perhaps the Wingecarribee’s most appealing attribute
is the lifestyle it offers. Residents live in a peaceful country
setting just 1½ hours drive from Sydney’s CBD.
The green rolling hills, quaint villages, fine homes bordered
by manicured gardens, lush English trees and an overall serenity
combine to make for an idyllic rural lifestyle.
Superb sporting and recreation facilities are available in
the Shire’s main urban centres. The Wingecarribee LGA
possesses an excellent reputation for it’s high-class
education system. The area is home to some of the finest private
colleges in the state including Chevalier, Oxley and Tudor
Future prospects for industry and the workforce in the Wingecarribee
LGA will remain in the sectors which are currently strongest
– they being manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and
retail. Over the next decade the area will follow the overall
trend of the Illawarra Region, with an increasing proportion
of the workforce employed in tertiary service industries.
Growth in tertiary industries will most likely be linked to
probable population inflows from Sydney, which are expected
with the development of the Sydney to Canberra high-speed
It is the key objective of Wingecarribee Council to maintain
the Shire’s environmental quality, in order to protect
and enhance the economic development of the area. One recent
initiative was the introduction of a new Environmental Protection
Zone to control land use in historically important rural landscapes
and to promote their long-term conservation. Overall, the
community is supportive of development that is sensitive to
the area’s most important asset – the environment.
Last Updated: January 2013