Our Place

An outline of the Bega Valley Shire, our people and our economy.

Welcome to Our Place

The Bega Valley Shire is located at the south-eastern corner of New South Wales, half-way between Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne and three hours’ drive from the nation’s capital, Canberra. Our coastal fringe extends from Wallaga Lake in the north to Cape Howe and the Victorian border in the south. At over 6,200 km2, the shire is the largest local government area in coastal NSW and collectively this 225-kilometre section forms the beautiful Sapphire Coast, the heart of Australia’s Coastal Wilderness.

Our community vision explains our collective aspiration that by working together, the Bega Valley Shire community integrates quality of life, enterprising businesses, sustainable development, and conservation of the environment.

We are ... Bega Valley

Basic map of the Bega Valley Shire and hte distance to Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne


The Yuin people are the traditional custodians of the shire. Ancient stories, ceremonies, special places and sacred objects are embedded in the landscapes, trees, hills and waterways of the shire, and form the basis of traditional lore, custom, spiritual connection and custodial obligations.

The shire’s population of around 36,000 is dispersed, with a third of us living in rural areas and the remaining two thirds spread amongst 12 villages, 4 major towns and adjacent urban settlements. Between 2016 and 2021 our population grew by 1.57% per year, slightly more than the rest of NSW. Our population is predicted to grow over the next 15 years at a slower rate of 0.65% per year. With a median age of 52, our population is older than the rest of NSW (median age 39), but we have high levels of independence, with 47% of us fully owning our own homes, and 22% of us actively volunteering.

Currently fewer of us have bachelor level education than the state average, but more of us are attending university than ever before. Around half of us work, predominantly in agriculture, manufacturing, health and social services, retail and tourism, and a significant proportion of us are retired.
While we enjoy lower rent and mortgage costs than average, our lower than average weekly income means affordability is just as important to us as our city counterparts.

This is ... Bega Valley

Our strengths

  • Food product manufacturing
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • Tourism
  • Healthcare and social assistance
  • Natural assets and liveability
  • Intellectual and cultural capital
  • Attractive retirement destination
  • Low cost of housing
  • Location


We have a strong economy, with an estimated $1.78 billion annual Gross Regional Product, over $797 million in exports each year and 3,153 local businesses. Our main industries are farming, particularly dairy and the associated cheese manufacturing industry in Bega; construction commercial fishing and aquaculture; health and social services; and tourism. The key industrial precincts are in North Bega, Eden and South Pambula and main retail areas in the town centres of Bega, Eden and Merimbula.

Transport is predominantly by private car with limited bus services. Merimbula Airport provides air transport connectivity to Melbourne and Sydney and the Port of Eden is an important working port able to berth large cruise ships.

We are a regional centre for schools and higher education institutions. There are currently 18 primary and four high schools which include a mixture of private and public. The University of Wollongong operates a campus in Bega. In addition, vocational courses and trade skills are offered by the TAFE Illawarra campus also in Bega.

Our long stretches of coastline are a tourism draw card. Merimbula, Eden, Bermagui and Tathra are major tourist centres and typically experience a threefold boost in their populations during the peak summer period. On average, an estimated 1 million visitors come to the Bega Valley each year, spending around $480 million.

Bega Valley Shire Council manages over $1.7 billion in assets that allow visitors and community alike to live, work and play in this beautiful part of the world.

Statistics ... Bega Valley



Bega Valley


Population 2021 35,942  
Estimated population 2036 40,709  
Forecast population increase by 2036 13.79%  
Median age 52 39
Persons per hectare 0.06 0.1
Source: ABS Census 2021, forecast.id




Bega Valley

Bega Valley

Age 0 to 17 18.84 19.1
Age 18 to 34 14.0 14.8
Age 35 to 59 29.4 28.3
Age 60 plus 37.8 37.8
Source: forecast.id




Bega Valley


Couples with dependents 19.4 30.8
One parent families 8.7 10.6
Couples without dependents 32.9 25
Live alone 28.5 23.7
Group household 2.4 3.7
Other households 4.3 4.0
Visitor only households 3.3 1.2
Source: ABS Census 2021




Bega Valley


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 3.9 3.4
Overseas born 12.1 29.3
Language at home other than English 4.6 29.5
Source: ABS Census 2021




Bega Valley


Volunteering 21.9 13
Provided assistance to person with disability 13.5 11.9
Need assistance with core activities 6.3 5.8
Source: ABS Census 2021




Bega Valley


Car 67.0 46.3
Worked at Home 12.6 31.0
Walked 4.6 2.5
Truck 1.3 0.7
Public transport 0.4 4.0
Source: ABS Census 2021




Bega Valley


Number of dwellings 18,743  
Average household size 2.2 2.6
Live in separate house (%) 81.5 63.8
Unoccupied dwellings (%) 15.4 8.9
Own home outright (%) 46.7 30.3
Households with a mortgage (%) 24.5 31
Households renting (%) 20 31.3
Source: ABS Census 2021




Bega Valley


Median weekly household income 1,200 1,829
Median weekly mortgage repayments 350 500
Median weekly rent 310 420
Source: ABS Census 2021




Bega Valley


Completed university qualification 18.6 27.8
Completed advanced diploma or diploma 9.0 9.3
Completed a trade qualification (certificate) 21.1 15.0
Completed year 12 43.1 56.9
Attending university 1.6 4.7
Attending TAFE 2.0 1.4
Source: ABS Census 2021


MAJOR EMPLOYING SECTORS (persons employed)

Health Care and Social Assistance 2,259
Retail Trade 1,539
Accommodation and Food Services 1,438
Edcation and Training 1,139
Construction 1,060
Manufacturing 964
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 894
Source: ABS Census 2021


TOP 5 INDUSTRIES ($m output)

Construction 477
Manufacturing 461.2
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 367.1
Health Care and Social Assistance 268.7
Accommodation and Food Services 164.6
Source:NIER 2021/2022



Population * 35,942
Total Employment ** 15,786
Unemployment Rate *** 3.8%
Participation Rate * 77.2%
Workforce in Full Time Work * Bega Valley 49.0%
* NSW 55.2%
Workforce in Part Time Work * Bega Valley 40.2%
* NSW 29.7%

Data sources: *ABS 2021 Census, **NIEIR 2021/22,
***March 2023 quarter Jobs and Skills Australia.



Gross Regional Product * $1.78 billion
Value of Exports * $767.1 million
Local Businesses ** 3,153
Source: * NIEIR 2021/22, ** ABS 2021



Milk 61.2%  $61.291m
Livestock 31.1%  $28.658m
Crops 6.4% $5.889m
Source: ABS 2021



Note: Published performance in this period was impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

Total Visitor Spend $484m
Number of visitors annually 1.02m

*Year Ending December 2022 - Tourism Research Australia (includes international visitor nights, domestic visitor nights and domestic daytrips)



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