Population 44,395
Avg. Annual Growth (2006-11) 1.0%
Growth Rate 2006-11 5.0%
Area 2688 km sq.
Key Industry Sectors Health Care and Social Assistance, Retail Trade and Manufacturing
MainUrban Centres Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale



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 beauty.

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 government administration.


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.

Economic Activity

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.

Natural Resources

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 every year.

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 1 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 House.


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 rail link.

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