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Wollondilly Shire is a large and diverse local government area on Sydney’s southwestern fringe. A significant proportion of the Shire is covered by national parks, State forest and water catchment areas, particularly in the west and south east. Notable topographic features in the west include Lake Burragorang and Warragamba Dam, which supplies much of the water to the greater Sydney metropolitan area.
Settlement in the Shire is mainly confined to the Hume Freeway corridor, and encompasses towns and villages, as well as pockets of rural residential areas. The largest towns are Picton, Tahmoor and Thirlmere, which are located in the central part of the Shire off the Hume Freeway. Rural areas contain a variety of land uses, from grazing to more intensive activities, such as poultry and egg production, horse training and horticulture. There are also pockets of industrial and mining activity. In more recent years, agricultural land has come under increasing pressure from other uses, particularly as the Sydney metropolitan area expands south west and transport infrastructure improves.
European settlement dates from the first half of the nineteenth century. Picton was one of the first towns established in the Shire and retains its historical character today. The construction of the railway line encouraged further population growth, and villages were established around the stations. However, significant population growth and urban development in the Shire is a predominantly post-war phenomenon. This was spurred on by coal mining in the Tahmoor and Appin districts during the 1960s and 1970s and in more recent times by demand for housing created by Sydney’s expansion to the southwest. Between 1981 and 2006, the population of Wollondilly more than doubled from just on 20,000 to 41,000, with marked growth in townships and rural residential areas. This was aided by greater access to employment in southwestern Sydney with major improvements to road transport in the area (Hume Freeway and Camden Bypass). By 2016 the population increased to around 49,470.
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.
The primary housing market role that the Shire has played in the post war era has been to provide relatively affordable housing for young and mature families in a rural or semi-rural environment. This is particularly true of the towns in the Shire, where families have access to school education and other services, and there are good and improving transport links into Sydney. Rural residential areas tend to attract more mature families, possibly second or third home buyers. Other parts of the Shire attract retirees, particularly where there are purpose built villages such as in Menangle, Bargo and Thirlmere. This diversity of housing market roles is typical of peri-urban areas around Australia’s major cities where the settlement pattern and housing stock differs widely.
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