An outline of the Bega Valley Shire, our people and our economy.
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
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 0.26-0.59% 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
We have a strong economy, with almost $1.6 billion annual Gross Regional Product, over $860 million in exports each year and over 3,150 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 along much of the coast. 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