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 and forestry sectors in the Central West region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.
The Central West region of New South Wales is located west of Sydney and the Great Dividing Range, extending from Lithgow into the plains areas surrounding Condobolin and West Wyalong. The region comprises the eleven local government areas of Bathurst Regional, Bland, Blayney, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Lithgow, Mid—Western Regional, Orange, Parkes and Weddin, and parts of Blue Mountains, Cabonne, Oberon, Singleton, Warrumbungle Shire and Wellington. The region covers a total area of around 70,298 square kilometres or 8.78 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 196,700 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Central West region of New South Wales occupies 57,244 square kilometres, or 81 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 9,776 square kilometres, or 14 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 38,075 square kilometres or 54 per cent of the Central West region of New South Wales.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 105,600 people were employed in the Central West region. The region accounts for 3 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 15 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 15,800 people. Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the second largest employment sector with 11,700 people, representing 11 per cent of the region's workforce. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade, mining, construction, and education and training.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Central West region was $1.7 billion, which was 14 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales of $12.1 billion. This is the most recent year for which ABS data are available.
The Central West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($444 million), followed by cattle and calves ($246 million) and wool ($196 million). These commodities together contributed 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In addition, in 2014–15 the Central West region accounted for 44 per cent ($30 million) of the total value of the states's melon production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 5,585 farms in the Central West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 16 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Central West region, 2014–15
Central West region
New South Wales
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Other Grain Growing
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $5,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (1,496 farms) were the most common, accounting for 27 per cent of all farms in the Central West region, and 12 per cent of all beef cattle 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 47 per cent of farms in the Central West region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 10 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Central West region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane farms in New South Wales.
In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Central West region was approximately 88,900 hectares, comprised of approximately 82,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 6,600 hectares of other plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 1.9 million hectares of native forests in the Central West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (1.0 million hectares), Eucalypt medium open (296,000 hectares), Callitris (110,500 hectares), Eucalypt mallee woodland (89,100 hectares) and Casuarina (84,400 hectares) forest types. Approximately 1.1 million hectares of the native forests are privately owned, 509,100 hectares are in nature conservation reserves, 168,300 are leasehold forest and 147,700 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located at Oberon and Raglan.
In 2013–14, the total plantation area in New South Wales was approximately 390 000 hectares, comprised of approximately 90 600 hectares of hardwood plantations, 296 700 hectares of softwood plantations and 2 700 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted are Dunn's white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna). The main softwood species planted are radiata pine (Pinus radiata), slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea).
In 2014–15, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 924,000 cubic metres valued at $115 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 57,000 cubic metres valued at $6 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4.6 million cubic metres valued at $347 million. These values include both 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 approximately $7.2 billion in 2013–14. The income was generated from the sale of wood products estimated at approximately $3.4 billion, and the remaining $3.9 billion was generated from the sale of paper and paper products.
In 2011, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 22,247 workers (0.7 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 25,243 (0.9 per cent) in 2006. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.
ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.