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The Bega Valley Shire is a large rural local government area on the New South Wales Far South Coast, with major centres at Bega, Merimbula and Eden. Much of the coastal area of the Shire is strongly oriented towards residential development and tourism, particularly around Merimbula, Tura Beach, Tathra and Bermagui. The rural areas inland are highly productive with dairying and grazing the most notable agricultural industries. Inland areas are highly mountainous and dominated by National Park and State Forest.
The urban centres began as small agricultural service centres and as fishing ports. Tathra was first used as a port in the 1850s and wharves were constructed at Bermagui, Tathra and Merimbula to service the dairying and beef industries. The coastal centres have expanded rapidly in population during the post-war period, especially in the last 25 years. There are several factors contributing to this including natural amenity, increasing affluence (resulting in the growth of holiday and second homes) and improvements in road infrastructure.
Bega Valley gains population from the Sydney metropolitan area and parts of southern NSW, and to a lesser extent, Canberra and Melbourne. The population of Bega Valley Shire showed strong growth in the last decades of twentieth century, but since 2006, population growth has slowed to more modest levels. The population reached 30,000 in 1999-2000, and was just shy of 34,000 in 2016.
Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.
Bega Valley Shire shows evidence of a dual housing market, catering for families as well as retirees. This role has remained unchanged since the 1970s and is assumed to continue into the future. Different parts of the Shire cater for different housing markets, with families more prominent in and around Bega, and retirees concentrating in coastal towns, particularly Merimbula, Tathra and Bermagui. Like most parts of regional Australia, Bega Valley records a net loss of young adults (18-24 year olds), as they leave the family home to seek education and employment opportunities in larger centres.
There are differences in the supply of future residential land within the Shire which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the next twenty five years. Although residential development opportunities have been identified across most areas of the Shire, the largest amount of new development is expected in Tura - Mirador District, Bermagui Coast - Wapengo & District and Bega District. Many parts of the Shire are environmentally sensitive (including national parks) which constrains growth. However, most areas will record growth through incremental infill and the take up of rural residential opportunities.
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