The Council is committed to leading our City, protecting our environment, caring for our people, making our City vibrant, livable, healthy and accessible, and economically and financially sustainable.
Located on the western fringe of the Greater Sydney Region, the City of Blue Mountains is one of only two cities in the world surrounded by a UNESCO declared World Heritage National Park Area. With a spectacular environmental setting, the Blue Mountains is home to a community of nearly 80,000 people living in 27 towns and villages located over 100 km of mountainous terrain.
The Blue Mountains Local Government Area covers 140,377 hectares, 74% of which comprises National Park. A key challenge for the City of Blue Mountains and for the Council is how we can foster social and economic well-being, while maintaining and protecting the World Heritage environment that surrounds us, for future generations to come.
The City of Blue Mountains stretches across the Great Diving Range and provides a major road and rail transport link between urban Sydney and the more rural central west areas of NSW.
The transition through a series of distinct Blue Mountains towns and villages over the Great Dividing Range, and the scenic landscapes of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, tells you that you have left the metropolitan area and are travelling through a different and unique place.
Many Blue Mountains residents work in metropolitan Sydney and many of the services we regularly use are located in metropolitan Sydney. We benefit from direct transport links to major economic centres in Western Sydney and Sydney’s CBD.
A railway line with regular train services passes through most Blue Mountains towns and villages, making our City more accessible than many other areas on the fringe of Greater Sydney. Rail and road transport links also support our tourism industry, making it easy for tours and independent travellers to visit.
Many residents live in properties that directly connect to bushland and within relatively small hamlets and villages. Despite our unique peripheral urban fringe character, the Blue Mountains is considered by the State Government to be part of the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area.
Blue Mountains natural areas provide a significant recreation and tourism resource for Greater Sydney and the world. They also play a significant role in providing high quality drinking water to Sydney, as much of the City, south of the highway, drains into Lake Burragorang.
Our city includes areas that are of great Aboriginal cultural significance. We respect our Aboriginal community and celebrate their success in achieving recognition for their places and knowledge.
The Blue Mountains area has been the home to Aboriginal people for many thousands of years. The region covers large parts of the traditional lands of the Gundungurra and Darug language/tribal groups. The Aboriginal history of the area is significant and includes pre-contact and post-contact representations. For Aboriginal people this is not just historically important but also important today, as cultural connections are ongoing.
Two hundred years after Europeans crossed the Blue Mountains there are still many Aboriginal people with traditional connections to this ‘Country’, living in the region. There are also vast amounts of cultural sites in the Blue Mountains that not only illustrate Aboriginal cultural heritage but are an important legacy for present and future generations of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The post contact history of the Blue Mountains began with the first crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth in 1813. The Great Western Highway still largely follows the route they took. The development that followed initially supported settlers making the journey over the Blue Mountains and then tourists keen to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Many of the attractions built in this first phase of tourism continue to be major draw cards, including major hotels like The Carrington and The Hydro Majestic and facilities including heritage walking trails.
We are a Blue Mountains community, and a series of communities. Each town and village has its own character and distinctive features. Many of our towns and villages are long established and have distinctive heritage buildings.
We are a low density city comprised mainly of single dwellings on large blocks. Ribbons of development often extend out along ridge lines with a single road and housing backing onto bush. Our proximity to natural areas supports lifestyle and leisure interests, but has inherent bushfire and environmental degradation risks that require management.
Most of our housing is in detached dwellings on large lots. Our population is changing and is becoming steadily older. Our housing diversity is not changing at the same pace as the changing needs of our population.
Our settled areas are surrounded by bushland of World Heritage significance. This bushland backdrop underpins our quality of life, and attracts many visitors to our City, with tourism being a mainstay of our local economy.
Our City population is growing slowly. Almost 80,000 people were estimated to live in the Blue Mountains in 2021. Our average annual rate of growth has been well below the growth rate for NSW and Australia.
The Blue Mountains local government area has a population that is older and ageing faster than the NSW average. The forecast to 2036 shows the continuation of this trend, with more than one quarter of the Blue Mountains population predicted to be 65+ years of age at that time.
Who lives in the Blue Mountains changes from west to east. In the west, residents are more likely to be retirees. In the east residents are more likely to be part of a young family. The differences across the City have a big impact on the demand for services and infrastructure for various age groups, such as childcare, education facilities, employment, and health services in the different parts of the Blue Mountains Local Government Area (LGA).
We have not become as ethnically diverse as other parts of Sydney, and more than 96% of our residents speak English well. In 2021, 17.4% of people in Blue Mountains City were born overseas, compared with 38.6% in Greater Sydney.
We are a helping community with a much higher rate of volunteering (19.4%) than the average for Greater Sydney (11.6%). The large number of people working in Bushcare to help conserve our World Heritage environment is just one example of how many of us are prepared to volunteer and help out.
We are a City of the Arts and have more people engaged in the arts, and deriving some of their income from creative activity, than any other part of NSW, except for the City of Sydney. We have developed an artistic community of sufficient size to generate its own momentum. This creative energy benefits the entire community, through exhibitions, performances and cultural diversity.
We value, enjoy and will enthusiastically lobby and take direct action to protect our natural environment.
The Blue Mountains economy is growing. Our gross regional product has increased by 40% from $2300 million in 2008 to $3200 million in 2019. (This is based on real GRP which uses constant prices based off a single point in time). The top four industry employers in the region account for more than 50% of local jobs: Healthcare & Social Assistance; Accommodation & Food Services; Education & Training; and Retail Trade.
Residents consistently rate the generation of local employment opportunities as an important issue. Blue Mountains businesses tend to be small businesses and local business is at the heart of the Blue Mountains economy and community. Supporting their development is a key economic priority.
Tourism is a critical component of the local economy, and is growing. Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of visitors to the Blue Mountains peaked at 4.7 million in 2019, an increase of 50% from 2011. Increasing tourist numbers brings the challenge of ensuring tourism is sustainable. The Blue Mountains will soon be a certified ECO Destination, and many operators are seeking ways to attract new kinds of visitors - those that will stay longer, explore more, and in doing so, have a richer, more authentic visitor experience while making a far greater financial and emotional investment in the region.
Good road and public transport links, especially between the Blue Mountains and Sydney, are essential to supporting the tourism economy of the region and also in providing residents with access to employment opportunities. Blue Mountains residents working outside the LGA take advantage of the good transport links to the west through Penrith and Parramatta, to Sydney.
Our ageing population will demand more specialised community, health and recreational services to support them as they age. This will include services that help people to remain in their homes, such as domestic and health care services. Businesses that understand and are able to respond to the needs of our ageing population are likely to find increased opportunities in the region over the next 20 years.