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Greater Western Sydney
New South Wales
Aerial view of Eastern Creek, Greystanes, Horsley Park, Pemulwuy, Prospect and Wetherill Park.jpg
Aerial view of the suburbs surrounding the Prospect reservoir
Greater Western Sydney Map.gif
Localities around Greater Western Sydney:
Greater Blue Mountains Area Hunter Region Hills District
Northern Sydney
Blue Mountains Greater Western Sydney Inner West
Greater Blue Mountains Area Macarthur
Southern Highlands
Southern Sydney
Illawarra

Greater Western Sydney (GWS) is a large region of the metropolitan area of Greater Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia that generally embraces the north-west, south-west, central-west, and far western sub-regions within Sydney's metropolitan area and encompasses 13 local government areas: Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Hills Shire, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Wollondilly. It includes Western Sydney, which has a number of different definitions, although the one consistently used is the region composed of ten local government authorities, most of which are members of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC). Penrith, Hills Shire & Canterbury-Bankstown are not WSROC members. The NSW Government's Office of Western Sydney calls the region "Greater Western Sydney".

Radiocarbon dating suggests human activity occurred in the Sydney metropolitan area from around 30,000 years ago. The Darug people lived in the area that was greater western Sydney before European settlement regarded the region as rich in food from the river and forests. Parramatta was founded in 1788, the same year as Sydney, making it the second oldest city in Australia. Opened in 1811, Parramatta Road, which navigates into the heart of greater western Sydney, is one of Sydney's oldest roads and Australia's first highway between two cities – Sydney central business district (CBD) and Parramatta, which is now the sixth largest business district in Australia. Rapid population increase after World War II saw the settlement of many ex-service men and migrants in the greater west, making it one of the most urbanised regions in the country and an area of growing national importance.

Being the third largest economy in Australia, behind Sydney CBD and Melbourne, the region covers 5,800 square kilometres (2,200 sq mi) and is one of the fastest growing populations in Australia, with an estimated resident population of 2,288,554 in 2017. Western Sydney has the most multicultural suburbs in the country with 38% of the population speaking a language other than English at home, and up to 90% in some suburbs. Containing about 9% of Australia's population and 44% of Sydney's population, the people of GWS are predominantly of a working class background, with major employment in the heavy industries and vocational trade.

Encompassing significant areas of national parks, waterways and parklands, agricultural lands, natural bushland and a range of recreational and sporting facilities, the region also largely contains remnants of critically endangered native Cumberland Plain Bushland and World Heritage-listed areas of the Blue Mountains. The Hawkesbury and Nepean River system is Sydney's firsthand water source and the mainstay of the region's agricultural and fishing industries, and is also major recreational area for the inhabitants of GWS. The heritage-listed Warragamba Dam, the primary reservoir for water supply for Sydney, is located in the greater west.

Sub-regions

Greater Western Sydney local government authorities agree on the broad definition of greater western Sydney, but divide the region based on the regional organisations of councils. The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) includes the local government areas of Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Canterbury, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith. The Macarthur Regional Organisation of Councils (MACROC) includes the local government areas of Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly.

The Department of Planning & Infrastructure Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney divides Greater Western Sydney into three sub-regions:

Sub-region Local government areas Area Population
(2011 Census)
Employment
(2011 Census)
Housing
(2011 Census)
Gross Regional Product
(FY2010/2011)
km2 sq mi
West Central and North West, Canterbury-Bankstown, Parramatta 799 308 ~846,000 ~389,000 ~302,000 A$48.5 billion
West Blacktown, Hawkesbury, Penrith, The Hills 4,608 1,779 ~327,000 ~119,000 ~127,000 A$13.0 billion
South West Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield,
Liverpool, and Wollondilly
3,554 1,372 ~829,000 ~298,000 ~286,000 A$33.5 billion
Totals 8,941 3,452 ~2,002,000 ~806,000 ~715,000 A$95.0 billion

Geography

Aerial view of Eastern Creek, Greystanes, Horsley Park, Pemulwuy, Prospect and Wetherill Park
Aerial view of the suburbs surrounding Prospect reservoir (looking to the west).

In 1820s, Peter Cunningham described the country west of Parramatta and Liverpool as "a fine timbered country, perfectly clear of bush, through which you might, generally speaking, drive a gig in all directions, without any impediment in the shape of rocks, scrubs, or close forest". This confirmed earlier accounts by Governor Phillip, who suggested that the trees were "growing at a distance of some twenty to forty feet from each other, and in general entirely free from brushwood..."

Climate

Western Sydney experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa) with the annual temperatures having an average maximum of 23 °C (73 °F) and a minimum of 12 °C (54 °F), making the region a few degrees warmer than the Sydney CBD. Maximum summer temperatures average at around 28 °C (82 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F) and winter temperatures are mild; averaging at around 17 °C (63 °F) to 18 °C (64 °F), depending on the location. Autumn and spring are the transitional seasons, with spring showing a larger variation than autumn in terms of temperatures.

Precipitation

Rainfall is almost evenly spread throughout the year, although the first half tends to be wetter, namely February through to June (late summer/early winter). The region is in a rain shadow that's created by the higher coastal highlands which seize the rain from the prevailing south-east winds. The months from July through to December tend to be drier (late winter through to early summers). Thunderstorms are common in late summer and early autumn. Winters are pleasantly cool and relatively sunny (especially August), although east coast lows can bring large amounts of rainfall, especially in June. Most suburbs in the west have an annual precipitation that averages at around 700 to 900 mm (28 to 35 in), in contrast to Sydney CBD's 1,217 mm (48 in).

Summer

Western Sydney is much warmer than Sydney city in summer. During this time, daytime temperatures can be 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the city (in extreme cases the West can even be 10 degrees hotter). This is because sea breezes in the City do not penetrate the inland areas. Northwesterlies occasionally bring hot winds from the desert that raise temperatures as high as 40 °C (104 °F). The humidity in the summer is usually in the comfortable range, though some days can be slightly humid (due to the ocean proximity) or very dry (due to the heat from the desert).

Autumn

In early autumn, hot days are possible, with temperatures above 38 °C (100 °F) possible in March, but quite rare. April is cooler, with days above 30 °C (86 °F) happening on average only 1.1 times during the month. Days cooler than 20 °C occur more regularly leading into May. In May, days are usually mild, ranging from the high teens to the low-mid 20's, but can get quite cold, with maximums of 17 °C or lower starting to occur. Average minimums fall throughout the season, with the first night below 10 °C (50 °F) often occurring in April.

Winter

Winter temperatures often show a higher variation in late winter than early winter, with a day or two in August occasionally reaching above 27 °C (81 °F), which is unknown in June and July. Winter nights average 6.9 °C (44.4 °F), although an average of 2.1 nights per year see temperatures fall below 2 °C (36 °F), mostly in July, and an average of only 0.2 nights per year fall below 0 °C (32 °F). These low temperatures often occur when the night sky is clear and the ground can radiate heat back into the atmosphere. Winter nights, though, are typically a few degrees cooler and frost is not uncommon in some areas.

Spring

Spring temperatures are highly variable, with temperatures fluctuating quite often. September will normally see one day reaching above 30 °C (86 °F), and extremely rarely, above 35 °C (95 °F). Cool days in September can occur, occasionally failing to reach 15 °C (59 °F). October and November show high variability, where hot north-westerlies can cause temperatures to rise above 35 °C (95 °F), and even above 40 °C (104 °F) in November, while cool days below 20 °C (68 °F) are also quite common. The average minimum temperature increases throughout the season, September can still have nights falling below 5 °C (41 °F). October and November occasionally have nights falling below 10 °C (50 °F).

Climate data

Landmarks

Major tourist attractions in Western Sydney include the Blue Mountains and Sydney Olympic Park. The Western Sydney Parklands, a major urban parkland stretching through many local government areas in Western Sydney, also contains many attractions such as picnic areas and lookouts, Calmsley Hill Farm, Blacktown Olympic Park, Eastern Creek Raceway, and, most notably, the Nurragingy reserve (features picnic areas and a Chinese garden). Other major recreation include Auburn Botanical Gardens. Large shopping malls include Westfield Penrith, Westfield Parramatta, Westfield Liverpool and Westpoint Blacktown.

Parramatta has also become a major centre in Sydney, often being referred to as the second CBD of Sydney.

Education

Major education facilities include:

  • Western Sydney University, a multi-campus university that is ranked in the top 300 in the world in the 2021 THE World University Rankings and 18th in Australia in 2021.
  • TAFE NSW campuses across Western Sydney (including OTEN) and South Western Sydney
  • University of Sydney – Camden and Cumberland Campus
  • Australian College of Physical Education

It contains many primary and secondary schools.

Economy

Parramatta Skyline aerial
Parramatta is the main commercial centre of Western Sydney

With more than 240,000 local businesses which generated more than $95 billion gross regional product in 2009, Western Sydney is a diverse area when it comes to socio-economics, with the two largest industries in the region being manufacturing and construction. Of the 544,000 jobs situated in the GWS, 75% of those who live in the region also work there. The Smithfield–Wetherill Park Industrial Estate is the largest industrial estate in the southern hemisphere and is the centre of manufacturing and distribution in GWS. Lying strategically between the major population growth zones in the north-west and south-west of Sydney, it contains more than 1,000 manufacturing, wholesale, transport and service firms which employ more than 20,000 persons.

Yennora from the air
Yennora industrial zone, showing Pine Road and the Hume Building Products warehouses.

While overall a lower income area for Sydney, with families who are dependent on childcare as both parents work, and higher than average unemployment and lower than average salary levels, it has some exceedingly high income suburbs nonetheless. Namely, the suburb of The Ponds, in the City of Blacktown, which is the most highly advantaged suburb in NSW on the SEIFA index of advantage-disadvantage, ahead of suburbs on the North Shore, such as St Ives and Avalon. Other affluent suburbs in western Sydney, ranging from upper middle class to upper class neighbourhoods, include, Acacia Gardens, Kellyville Ridge, Bella Vista, Castle Hill, Cherrybrook, Pemulwuy, Rouse Hill, Schofields, Edmondson Park, Beaumont Hills, Glenmore Park, Cecil Hills, Elizabeth Hills, Middleton Grange, Carnes Hill, Oran Park, Jordan Springs, Ropes Crossing, Leppington and Spring Farm, among others.

Lower middle class and working class neighbourhoods are mainly concentrated near the heart of the central business district areas of Fairfield, Mount Druitt, Guildford, Cabramatta, Merrylands, Rosehill, Granville, Canley Vale and Auburn. Yennora is known to be the most poorest suburb of western Sydney overall, where the median personal income is just $19,000, followed by Landsdowne, Blairmount, Wiley Park, Campsie, Roselands, Carramar, Villawood and Punchbowl. Furthmore, Claymore in the southwest was listed as one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in New South Wales. Nonetheless, the rest of the GWS region is generally made up of a middle class population, with such even found in both affluent and low income suburbs.

Livability

Due to Parramatta's emergence as "Sydney's second CBD", livability in the surrounding western suburbs has been advancing, with Harris Park being 63rd most liveable area by Domain Group, followed by Parramatta at 110 and Rosehill at 187. Further to the west, Penrith warranted a spot in the top 200 suburbs of the 555 on the list. Seven of the top ten suburbs for home purchasers were more than 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of the Sydney CBD, which included areas with high construction activity such as Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, Liverpool and Blacktown, which has become Sydney's most popular area for home buyers, with more sales than any other suburb.

This is mainly due to the immense cultural activities and high affordability in the region, and also the development of new restaurants, high-rise apartments, telecommunications, local employment, retail, ferry access and education. Regarding this, Allworth Homes director Stephen Thompson states, "While the outskirts of Sydney were once considered undesirable, improved infrastructure coupled with soaring house prices has meant many property seekers are looking further afield for their homes, including high-income earners". With Western Sydney Airport opening in the mid 2020s, Penrith is slated to become another CBD, with the airport creating 35,000 jobs by 2035.

Agriculture

Luddenham (New South Wales) - Adams Road
Rural suburb of Luddenham.

Agriculture is mainly concentrated in the outskirts of the Greater Western Sydney area, such as in suburbs of Kemps Creek, Mount Vernon, Mulgoa, Bringelly, Silverdale, Orchard Hills, Luddenham and Horsley Park, among others, which lie in a countryside adjacent to the footsteps of the Blue Mountains westwards of these country plains. Abbotsbury, Cecil Hills and Glenmore Park were farms through until the 1980s when it was decided to redevelop them for housing. The area around the site of Regentville has remained largely rural, if hemmed in somewhat by the modern residential suburbs of Jamisontown and Glenmore Park.

In the 1800s, John Blaxland built an original wooden weir at "Grove Farm" (now known as Wallacia) for a sandstone flour mill and additional brewery. The land was also used for wheat farming until 1861 when wheat rust infected the entire crop. The rural regions were chiefly one of dairying and grazing during the 19th century, but in the early 20th century – because of its rural atmosphere and proximity to Sydney – tourism developed as people opened their homes as guest houses. Today, the rural areas include a number of orchards and vineyards in the meadows. Vegetable farming and fruit picking are common activities.

Demographics

Languages

The residents of GWS come from more than 170 countries and speak over 100 different languages and 12% of them, namely the newcomers, do not speak English very well. Cabramatta is made up of 87.7% of people from non-English speaking backgrounds, the highest anywhere in Australia (excluding remote indigenous communities). Other Western Sydney suburbs, such as Fairfield, Bankstown and Canley Vale, are also over 80%.

Although many of these communities are Australian-born (including Arabic speakers, with about 50% born therein), Western Sydney still is the main centre of Australian migration, with 60% of new arrivals settling in greater western Sydney in between 2006 and 2011, with the majority coming from India, China, Iraq, the Philippines and Vietnam. Furthermore, GWS also has more Indigenous Australian residents than either South Australia or Victoria, making it the largest indigenous community in Australia. These are some of the largest population groups of Australia's non-English speakers found in Western Sydney:

Religion

Western Sydney is the most religious and socially conservative region in Sydney. Previously, the districts of Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby Shire and The Hills Shire in the north were the most religious areas in Sydney, and were formerly known as being part of Sydney's "bible belt". Today however, the western suburbs have become Sydney's so-called believer belt, with a high proportion of believers found in a band of suburbs that span the cities of Liverpool, Fairfield, Cumberland and Canterbury-Bankstown.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, areas with the highest percentage of Christians were found in the western and south-western suburbs such as, Bossley Park (85%), Grasmere (82.3%), Theresa Park (81.1%), Abbotsbury (81%) and Horsley Park (79.6%), with the most popular denominations being Catholic and Anglican, respectively. A few suburbs in the southwest had a high amount of Islamic adherents, such as Lakemba (59.2%), South Granville (49%) and Old Guildford (45.9%).

Society

Ash Road, Prestons
Post-2000s, modern style of homes in Prestons. These more recent suburban developments tend to be less leafy than more established Sydney neighborhoods.

The region's major city centre is Parramatta, and the rest of the LGAs are growing immensely when it comes population, economic opportunity and environmental diversity. In the early 2010s, urban development has occurred in places like Camden, Campbelltown and Penrith, while Parramatta and Blacktown have grown rapidly. The GWS region overall grew at 2.1% in 2014 and 1.6% p.a. for the past decade. The South-West, such as, Leppington, spanning Liverpool, Camden and Campbelltown councils, had higher number of families. The region's population is projected to reach 3 million by 2036.

Home to around 1 in every 11 Australians, the 2 million inhabitants of GWS live in 743,940 dwellings with an average household size of 3.02. While Sydney CBD and the Inner West mostly consist of federation-era homes, the west usually features larger modern homes, which are predominantly found in the outer, newer suburbs, starting from the City of Fairfield and Blacktown and including Stanhope Gardens, Kellyville Ridge, and Bella Vista to the northwest, Bossley Park, Abbotsbury, and Cecil Hills to the west, and Hoxton Park, Harrington Park, and Oran Park to the southwest.

High school retention rates for years 7 to 12 are the lowest in the Sydney metropolitan area, recording 69.5% compared to 95.2% in Northern Sydney. In 2009, twice as many people in GWS aged 15 or older hadn't attended school at all compared to the rest of Sydney and NSW. The region has strong automobile dependency with consequent effects on air quality, health, quality of life and household budgets.

Regions

The Department of Planning and Infrastructure Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney divides Greater Western Sydney into three sub-regions:

Sub-region Local government areas Area Population
(2016 Census)
Employment
(2016 Census)
Housing
(2016 Census)
Gross Regional Product
(FY2010/2011)
km2 sq mi
West Central and North West Canterbury-Bankstown, Parramatta, Cumberland Council 799 308 ~846,000 ~389,000 ~302,000 A$48.5 billion
West Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Penrith, The Hills 4,608 1,779 ~327,000 ~119,000 ~127,000 A$13.0 billion
South West Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield,
Liverpool, and Wollondilly
3,554 1,372 ~829,000 ~298,000 ~286,000 A$33.5 billion
Totals 8,941 3,452 ~2,002,000 ~806,000 ~715,000 A$95.0 billion

Western Sydney

Western Sydney as defined by the WSROC region covers 5,800 square kilometres (2,200 sq mi) and had an estimated resident population as at 30 June 2008 of 1,665,673. The region comprises the areas administered by the Blacktown City Council, Blue Mountains City Council, City of Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland Council, Fairfield City Council, Hawkesbury City Council, Hills Shire Council, Liverpool City Council, City of Parramatta Council, and the Penrith City Council.

Western Sydney is also sometimes used to refer to the whole Greater Western Sydney region, which is the combination of Western Sydney as defined above and the Macarthur Region (also referred to as South-western Sydney). As well as the ten councils listed above, the GWS region includes Camden Council, Campbelltown City Council and Wollondilly Shire Council.

Sport

The region hosts many professional sporting teams in a wide range of codes. The National Rugby League has four teams based in the region; the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers. The region acts as the namesake of the Australian Football League's Greater Western Sydney Giants Australian rules football club. The A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers association football club is also based in this region of Sydney. The region also hosts Macarthur FC of the A-League. Greater Sydney Rams now represent the region in the National Rugby Championship. The Sydney Thunder play at the Big Bash League (cricket). Other sporting teams include:

  • Baseball: Sydney Blue Sox
  • Ice hockey: Western Sydney Ice Dogs
  • Netball: Greater Western Sydney Giants

The Sydney Olympic Park was built for the 2000 Olympic Games, and has hosted the NRL Grand Final, the Sydney 500 auto race and the Sydney International tennis tournament.

Previously the region was represented in Australia's professional Basketball league the NBL, by the West Sydney Razorbacks. While the Razorbacks folded, the Sydney Kings who typically played at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, an eastern Sydney venue, have since moved to the Sydney Superdome at Sydney Olympic Park and market towards the whole metropolitan area of Sydney.

Transport

Light Horse Interchange (aerial view)
The Light Horse Interchange is the largest in the southern hemisphere.

The M4 Western Motorway is a prominent dual carriageway motorway in western Sydney, that stretches from North Strathfield in the east, where it connects with the Great Western Highway/Parramatta Road as the A4 to Glenbrook in west. It continues as the Great Western Highway as the A32, passing the southern fringe of the Parramatta central business district, moving due west across western metropolitan Sydney to Penrith, north of the central business district, crossing the Nepean River via the 1867 Victoria Bridge.

Cumberland Highway links the Pacific Highway (A1/B83) and Pacific Motorway (M1) at Pearces Corner, Wahroonga in the northeast with the Hume Highway (A22/A28) at Liverpool in the southwest.

The M5 Motorway is the primary route from Liverpool to the Sydney CBD, with its terminus being in the south of an interchange near Prestons where the M5 meets the Westlink M7 and the M31 Hume Motorway.

The A6 is a major arterial road that provides a link from the northern and western suburbs to the centre western suburbs – Bankstown and the Princes Highway at Heathcote, via Lidcombe and Bankstown.

Henry Lawson Drive was conceived of as a scenic drive to follow the north bank of the Georges River in Sydney's southwest.

The Light Horse Interchange is a motorway interchange located in Eastern Creek at the junction of the M4 Western Motorway and the Westlink M7 that was opened to traffic in December 2005 due to the population boom in Sydney's western suburbs.

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