Hornsby Shire CouncilEconomic profile lite
Skip to content

Hornsby Shire

About the area

Name origin

Hornsby Shire is named after Police Constable Samuel Horne.

Location and boundaries

Hornsby Shire is located in Sydney's northern suburbs - about 25 kilometres from the Sydney CBD. Hornsby Shire is bounded by the Central Coast Council area and the Hawkesbury River in the north and north-east, Cowan Creek in the east, the Ku-ring-gai Council area, the City of Ryde and the City of Parramatta in the south, and The Hills Shire in the west.

Included areas

Hornsby Shire includes the suburbs and localities of Arcadia, Asquith, Beecroft (part), Berowra, Berowra Creek, Berowra Heights, Berowra Waters, Berrilee, Brooklyn, Canoelands, Castle Hill (part), Cheltenham, Cherrybrook, Cowan, Dangar Island, Dural (part), Epping (part), Fiddletown, Forest Glen, Galston, Glenhaven (part), Glenorie (part), Hornsby, Hornsby Heights, Laughtondale, Maroota (part), Middle Dural (part), Milsons Passage, Mount Colah, Mount Kuring-gai, Normanhurst, North Epping, Pennant Hills, Singletons Mill, Thornleigh, Wahroonga (part), Waitara, West Pennant Hills (part), Westleigh and Wisemans Ferry (part).

Land use

Hornsby Shire is a predominantly rural and residential area, with some commercial and industrial land use. The Shire encompasses a total land area of about 460 square kilometres, of which two-thirds is National Park and reserves. Most of the land in the northern section is rural. The Shire has two major centres, with a major centre at Hornsby and a secondary centre at Pennant Hills. There are also many suburbs, villages, islands and river communities. Most residential areas are established suburbs, except for Castle Hill, Cherrybrook and Dural, which have developed in more recent decades.


Hornsby Shire is served by the Pacific Highway, the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, the Hills (M2) Motorway, Pennant Hills Road and the North Shore & Northern and Central Coast & Newcastle railway lines.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from 1794 when the first land grants were made along the Hawkesbury River, with land used mainly for farming. Development was slow, due to limited access. Some growth took place in the 1820s and the 1830s, following the opening of the Great North Road and other tracks. Early industries included citrus and stone fruit farming, salt production, flour mills and boat building. Growth continued in the 1880s and 1890s, especially in the south-eastern section, spurred by the opening of the Newcastle and North Shore railway lines. Hornsby CBD developed as a railway town, becoming the major centre of the Shire. In the 1920s poultry and egg production replaced citrus and stone fruits as the main industry. The most significant development took place from the post-war years, with the most rapid growth during the 1950s and 1960s. From the 1970s population growth began to slow down. The population gradually increased from about 110,000 in 1991 to about 135,000 in 2011. Much of the growth during the 1990s was in the south-western suburbs of Castle Hill, Cherrybrook and Dural, with urban consolidation in and around the Hornsby CBD. Since 2001 there has been considerable medium and high density development (apartments) the Hornsby CBD and the neighbouring suburb of Waitara.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of Hornsby Shire were the Dharug, Kuringgai and Darkingung Aboriginal people.

Regional labour force

The Hornsby Shire labour force region is defined by an area in which a significant percentage of workers travelled into the Hornsby Shire to work at the 2011 Census. Details of this calculation and a list of areas included can be found in the data notes.