Canberra Region Joint Organisation areaEconomic profile
Skip to content

Canberra Region

About the area

Location and boundaries

The Canberra Region Joint Organisation Area (Canberra Region) is located in south-eastern New South Wales, to the immediate north, east and south of the Australian Capital Territory. The Canberra Region is located between 10 and 250 kilometres from the Canberra CBD, and between 100 and 400 kilometres south-west of the Sydney CBD. The Canberra Region is bounded by Bland Shire, Weddin Shire, Cowra Shire, the Bathurst Regional Council area and the Oberon Council area in the north, Wollondilly Shire, Wingecarribee Shire, Shoalhaven City and the Tasman Sea in the east, the State of Victoria in the south, and the Snowy Valleys Council area, the Australian Capital Territory, the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council area and Temora Shire in the west.

Included areas

The Canberra Region includes eight municipalities: Bega Valley Shire, Eurobodalla Shire, the Goulburn Mulwaree Council area, the Hilltops Council area, the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council area, the Snowy Monaro Regional Council area, Upper Lachlan Shire and the Yass Valley Council area.

Land use

The Canberra Region is predominantly rural, with major townships at Batemans Bay, Bega, Cooma, Crookwell, Goulburn, Moruya, Narooma, Queanbeyan and Yass. Smaller townships include Bemboka, Bermagui, Berridale, Bombala, Boorowa, Braidwood, Bredbo, Bungendore, Candelo, Captains Flat, Cobargo, Delegate, Eden, Gunning, Harden - Murrumburrah, Merimbula, Michelago, Pambula, Pambula Beach, Taralga, Tathra, Tura Beach, Wolumla, Wyndham and Young, along with numerous villages. The Region includes growing residential and rural-residential areas, particularly in the areas closest to Canberra and along the coast. The Canberra Region encompasses a total land area of nearly 52,000 square kilometres, including national parks, nature reserves and state forests. Land is used largely for conservation, timber production and agriculture (particularly sheep and cattle grazing, orcharding and grain growing), with some fishing and viticulture. Tourism is an important industry, with several ski resorts in the south-western areas, and holiday areas along the coast.


The Canberra Region is served by the Barton Highway, the Federal Highway, the Hume Highway, the Kings Highway, the Monaro Highway, the Olympic Highway, the Princes Highway, the Snowy Mountains Highway, Merimbula Airport, the Port of Eden, and the Southern Highlands railway line.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the 1820s, with land used mainly for sheep and cattle grazing and timber-getting. Several townships were established from the 1830s into the 1850s, with most beginning as small agricultural service centres. Population was minimal until the 1850s, spurred by gold discoveries, the establishment of fishing, whaling and mining, and the increased popularity of crop growing. Substantial growth took place during the late 1800s, and into the early 1900s, aided by the opening of the railway line from Sydney and then branch railway lines. The most significant development occurred in the post-war years, with rapid growth from the 1960s. During the 1950s and 1960s significant population growth occurred in and around Cooma, due to the township being the headquarters for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme was established in 1949 and completed in 1974, creating six major dams and ten smaller dams, in order to enhance agricultural production by irrigation, and to provide peak electricity generation for the wider area. Growth continued during the 1970s, particularly in the coastal areas. The population of the Canberra Region increased gradually from the early 1990s, rising from about 179,000 in 1991 to about 218,000 in 2011. Much of the recent growth has been in the areas closest to Canberra and the coastal townships and villages.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the Canberra Region were various Aboriginal tribes, including the Bugelli-Manji, Gundungurra, Monaro, Ngambri, Ngarigu, Ngunnawal, Walbunja, Wiradjuri and Yuin people.