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About my region — Capital Region New South Wales

​​​​​​​​​​​About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors in the Capital region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Capital region of New South Wales is located in the south–east of the state from the southern tablelands, east around the ACT, to the far south coast. The region comprises the eight local government areas of Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Goulburn Mulwaree, Hilltops, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Snowy-Monaro, Upper Lachlan Shire, Yass Valley, and small parts of Shoalhaven, Snowy Valleys, and Wingecarribee. The region covers a total area of around 51,900 square kilometres or 6 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 225,700 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Capital region occupies 33,400 square kilometres, or 64 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 12,900 square kilometres, or 25 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 25,200 square kilometres or 49 per cent of the Capital region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Capital region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Capital region New South Wales. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia - Update December 2018


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 110,100 people were employed in the Capital region. The region accounts for 3 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 11 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 16,400 people, followed by accommodation and food services with 13,900 people, and public administration and safety with 13,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; retail trade; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector employed 9,300 people, representing 8 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Capital region, February 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Capital region New South Wales by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2019

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Capital Region was $887 million, which was 7 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales of $13 billion.

The Capital Region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wool ($232 million), followed by cattle and calves ($199 million), and sheep and lambs ($185 million). These commodities together contributed 69 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2017–18 the Capital Region accounted for 50 per cent ($9 million) of the total value of the state's cherry production.

Value of agricultural production, Capital region, 2017–18
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Capital region New South Wales in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
Note: The graph shows only data published by the ABS. Some values were not published by the ABS to ensure confidentiality. The "Other commodities" category includes the total value of commodities not published as well as those with small values.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 7503.0, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia 2019

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 2,540 farms in the Capital Region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 10 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Capital region, 2016–17
Industry classificationCapital RegionNew South Wales
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised)       85333.6     2,82130.2
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming       52020.5     2,50020.8
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)       46818.4     6,9686.7
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming       2078.1     3,5795.8
Dairy Cattle Farming       1154.5         90212.8
Horse Farming       1044.1         77913.3
Other Grain Growing          722.8     3,1922.3
Stone Fruit Growing          502.0         11543.0
Other Livestock Farming nec          441.7         10541.8
Other       1084.3     5,0632.1
Total agriculture     2,540 100    26,024 9.8

Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown. nec Not elsewhere classified.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Sheep farms (853 farms) were the most common, accounting for 34 per cent of all farms in the Capital Region, and 30 per cent of all sheep farms in New South Wales.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 41 per cent of farms in the Capital Region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 11 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 17 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 56 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Capital Region in 2016–17.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Capital region, 2016–17
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Capital region New South Wales region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2016–17 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.

Fisheries sector

The coast line of the Capital Region extends from the Kioloa State Forest, north of Batemans Bay, to the Victorian border. As such, the area has a number of key fishing ports, including Eden, Bermagui, and Batemans Bay. Eden is an important port for NSW and Commonwealth fisheries. In 2013–14, Commonwealth fisheries landed a total of 1,285 tonnes in Eden including 299 tonnes of flathead, 103 tonnes of blue grenadier, 102 tonnes of ling, 75 tonnes of gould's squid, and 62 tonnes of jackass morwong. A variety of tuna are also landed in Eden including southern bluefin, yellowfin, albacore, and bigeye tuna.

Another key port for NSW and Commonwealth fisheries is Bermagui. In 2013–14, Commonwealth fisheries landed around 520 tonnes of fisheries products in Bermagui, including 55 tonnes of southern bluefin tuna, 32 tonnes of yellowfin tuna, and 23 tonnes of albacore. The Clyde river estuary in the Batemans Bay region is a key aquaculture area for Sydney rock oyster. Batemans Bay is also a key regional commercial fishing area, with parts of the community employed in abalone diving, rocklobster trapping, and commercial finfish fisheries.

Sydney rock oyster is the principal aquaculture species grown in NSW, accounting for 57 per cent of the value of all aquaculture species grown in NSW, with a value of $35 million in 2014–15 (Trenaman et al 2015). The Capital Region is estimated to have produced around 1.8 million dozens of Sydney rock oysters in 2014–15, at a combined value of $12 million. The Clyde River, near Batemans Bay, is an important producing region of Sydney rock oysters, producing 9 per cent of total NSW production of this species. This production was valued at $3.2 million on a farmgate basis in 2014–15, and contributes significantly to regional employment. Other areas of Sydney rock oyster production in the region include Merimbula Lake ($2.8 million), Pambula River ($2 million), and Wagonga Inlet ($2.2 million) (Trenaman et al 2015).

In 2015–16 the gross value of New South Wales fisheries production was estimated to be around $156 million, increasing by 4 per cent ($6 million) from 2014–15. New South Wales contributed 5 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 58 per cent ($91 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 42 per cent ($65 million).

New South Wales wild-catch fisheries provide a range of fisheries products. In 2015–16, finfish species contributed 47 per cent of the wild-catch production, valued at $43 million. The main finfish species landed were sea mullet, with a gross value of production of $9.6 million, followed by black and yellowfin bream ($3.6 million), school whiting ($2.8 million), snapper ($2.0 million), and sand whiting ($1.5 million). Prawns contributed 19 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $17.3 million, with other important crustacean groups being eastern rock lobster (13 per cent; $11.8 million), and crabs (10 per cent; $9.5 million).

In 2015–16 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 7 per cent ($4.2 million) to $65 million. Oyster production makes the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, accounting for 68 per cent of production by value, worth $44.3 million. Prawns ($6.0 million) and finfish aquaculture species, including silver perch ($3 million), trout ($2.3 million), and barramundi ($1.0 million) make up most of the remaining aquaculture production.

Commonwealth fisheries active in New South Wales include the Small Pelagic Fishery, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with tuna), and the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery.

In 2015–16, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $23.3 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, rock lobster, and abalone. Japan and Vietnam, are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 45 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include New Zealand (9 per cent), Spain (5 per cent), and Taiwan (5 per cent).

The New South Wales coast line is an important recreational fishing area, with a multitude of inlets and estuaries from which to fish. Being a tourism precinct, the region offers a number of recreational fishing opportunities, with the value of this activity to the regional economy likely to be significant. There are also a range of game fishing tournaments throughout the year, including in the Bermagui and Port Stephens area, targeting tuna and marlin species. New South Wales also contains a number of recreational only fishing areas, especially in the far south coast of New South Wales, a popular destination for both marine and freshwater recreational fishers. A large number of recreational fishers also fish in the Greater Sydney area, stretching from Newcastle to the Illawarra area, and comprising the city areas of Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong. Species commonly targeted in the area include yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, blue swimmer crab, squid, and southern calamari (Steffe & Murphy 2011).

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Capital Region was 56,400 hectares, comprised of 4,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 52,100 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted is shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were 2.4 million hectares of native forests in the Capital region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (1.1 million hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (779,200 hectares), and Eucalypt tall open (218,800 hectares) forest types. There were 937,600 hectares of the native forest privately owned, 934,100 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 339,500 hectares were multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major export and timber processing industries are located at Edrom, Eden, and Bombala.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in New South Wales was 394,400 hectares, comprised of 87,100 hectares of hardwood plantations, 307,100 hectares of softwood plantations, and 100 hectares of other plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 876,000 cubic metres valued at $110 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 63,000 cubic metres valued at $5 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4.7 million cubic metres valued at $344 million. These values and volumes include New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Total sales and service income in the New South Wales forest and wood product industry was estimated at $8.9 billion in 2015–16. The income generated from the sale of wood products was $4.6 billion, and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $4.3 billion.

In 2016, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 17,571 workers (0.5 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 22,250 (0.7 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.

Area of native forest, by tenure, Capital region
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Capital region New South Wales. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013


ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.

ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.

ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.

ABS 2019a Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Feb 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 03 April 2019.

ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.

Steffe, AS & Murphy, JJ 2011, Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries final report series, no. 131, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla, New South Wales.

Trenaman, R, Livingstone, S & Creese, A 2015, Aquaculture production report 2013–2014, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute report for the Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales.

Last reviewed:
06 Jun 2019