New South Wales
The Hills District (alternatively, the Hills Shire, the Hills, the Garden Shire, Sydney Hills, or Sydney's Bible Belt, previously the Baulkham Hills Shire) is a general term for the north-western suburbs of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Stretching from the M2 Hills Motorway in the south to the Hawkesbury River in the north and Old Windsor Road in the West to the Lane Cove River in the East, it is situated within the Greater Western Sydney region and its constituent suburbs are generally located in the local government area of The Hills Shire; some parts of the Hornsby Shire, Blacktown and Parramatta Cities are generally given the title.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Population
- 4 Geography and climate
- 5 Religion
- 6 Public transport
- 7 Suburbs
- 8 Media
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Actual suburbs and localities that are considered to be in the Hills District can be somewhat amorphous and variable. For example, the Hills District Historical Society restricts its definition to the Hills Shire local government area, yet its study area extends from Parramatta to the Hawkesbury. At its most generous, the term Hills District is applied to the area generally west of New Line, Old Northern, and Pennant Hills Roads, north of Kissing Point Roads, and James Ruse Drive, east of Sunnyholt , Old Windsor, and Windsor Roads, and extending as far north as the Hawkesbury River. Because of its undefined boundaries, commercial organisations often include suburbs on the Upper North Shore and Northern Suburbs in the definition due to their north-west direction from the CBD. It may include Seven Hills and Kings Langley, as these have historical connections with the district. Some surrounding suburbs such as Glenwood, comes under Hills District.
The region is so named for its characteristically comparatively hilly topography as the Cumberland Plain lifts up, joining the Hornsby Plateau; and the Hawkesbury Plain lifting up and joining the same Hornsby Plateau. Several of its suburbs also have 'Hills' in their names, such as Baulkham Hills, Beaumont Hills, Seven Hills, Castle Hill, Rouse Hill, Box Hill and Winston Hills.
Since circa 40,000 BC, Dharug Aborigines inhabited the Hills and surrounding areas, especially near water bodies. Rock dwellings found near the Darling Mills Creek are almost 12,000 years old. The Dharug would trade with adjacent clans like the Boorooberongal clan in the northwest. In 1789, a smallpox epidemic killed many of their numbers.
Governor Arthur Phillip surveyed the district in April 1791. His party was in search of a new area for settlement and farming to support a struggling colony in Sydney. In 1794, Hawkesbury Road, later Windsor Road, was built from the Toongabbie Government Farm to the Hawkesbury. In the same year, William Joyce, a pardoned convict, received the first land grant in the area, east of Hawkesbury Road, in what is now Baulkham Hills. He opened an inn on the same road. William Joyce Reserve is a reminder of his property.
Other early settlement
In 1799, Joseph Foveaux was granted 300 acres of land in what is now the Bella Vista area of Baulkham Hills. He sold this land to John Macarthur, and his wife, Elizabeth, the two of whom pioneered in wool manufacturing, and are attributed to starting Australia's wool industry. Part of this land was later acquired by Matthew Pearce. His farm was called 'Bella Vista Farm'. Foveaux Terrace, Elizabeth Macarthur Drive, and Macarthur Ridge Way, streets in Bella Vista; and Elizabeth Macarthur Creek starting in Kellyville are named after these early settlers. Matthew Pearce Public School, the largest in the state, is named after Matthew Pearce.
Government Farm in Castle Hill
Castle Hill Government Farm was established in 1801, and Castle Hill Heritage Park is built upon the land. It is third government farm in the country, built only twelve years after the historic grant of Experiment Farm to James Ruse. It was also a major site in the Battle of Vinegar Hill. Toongabbie Road, now Junction Road in Winston Hills, was built in the same year as the farm from Toongabbie to the junction in Baulkham Hills. Castle Hill Road was built from the junction to the farm in Castle Hill, and survives today as part of Old Northern Road and Old Castle Hill Road. The farm was turned into Australia's first lunatic asylum in 1811, until it was closed in 1826, when it was relocated to Liverpool.
Battle of Vinegar Hill
The Battle of Vinegar Hill, or Castle Hill Convict Rebellion (sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of Vinegar Hill, so as not to be confused with a rebellion of the same name in Ireland) is the historic first convict rebellion in Australia, and the only one suppressed under martial law. Vinegar Hill is located in Rouse Hill, and the rebellion occurred on 4 March 1804. Over 200 convicts escaped from a prison farm with the intent to "capture ships to sail to Ireland". Martial law was instated, and the rebels were hunted down until a truce was declared.
Windsor and Old Windsor Roads
Windsor and Old Windsor Roads are historic roads in Australia, as they are the second and third roads laid in the colony. They connect Parramatta with Windsor, but are majorly used as arterial roads for residents, especially in the Hills District. There are residential streets in Wentworthville and Westmead over the original alignment of Windsor Road. The original road started at Prospect Road, which is now the Great Western Highway. It went through the Government Farm at Toongabbie. It was widened in 1797 to 20 feet (approximately 6 metres). In 1802, Howe's Bridge was constructed at the crossing of South Creek, Windsor. In 1805, James Meehan surveyed a new alignment of the road, from Parramatta to Kellyville. This was the basis of the new Windsor Road. Governrnor Lachlan Macquarie, as part of his Parramatta Town Plan, commissioned a new toll road, which would follow Church Street across the Parramatta River, then follow the line traced by Meehan to Kellyville. This is approximately the same route that today's Windsor Road follows. This route was preferred, as it avoided many of the hills near Old Windsor Road, and the new Parramatta Government Domain, upon which Parramatta Park is built. New Windsor Road was completed in 1812, featuring 70 bridges, and was 32 feet wide (approximately 10 metres). In 1833, Windsor Road was declared a main road, maintained by public expenses. Old Windsor Road was also proclaimed a parish road. In 1835, Windsor Toll House was built, near South Creek. Bitumen for motor vehicles was laid in 1925. The upgrading for motor vehicles continued throughout the 1930s. The roads are now amongst the most well-serviced roads in the state by buses. The North-West Transit-way (NW T-way) runs along the entirety of Old Windsor Road, and along Windsor Road to Rouse Hill Town Centre.
According to the 2016 Census, The Hills Shire is home to 157,243 permanent residents. Of these 49.3% were male and 50.7% were female. 
Geography and climate
As the name indicates, the Hills District is an area of high elevation above sea level (compared with the rest of the Sydney basin) and thus creates orographic rainfall brought in by onshore winds from the Pacific Ocean. This leaves the Hills District with slightly higher rainfall than the rest of Sydney and creates a rain shadow for some places in the Blacktown district, including Marayong and Doonside. This climate characteristic was well suited to orchard production of stone fruit and citrus which proved luxuriant on the deep rich soils.
Whilst Sydney mainly falls under the humid subtropical climate zone, most of the suburbs in the Hills District have an oceanic climate (Cfb) under the Köppen climate classification, as their warmest month mean doesn't reach 22 °C (71.6 °F).
The area was previously known to have the highest rate of religious service attendance in Australia and was referred to as Sydney’s Bible Belt. The Hills Shire repeatedly showed higher than average religious affiliation in the Australian Census, and still retains a large Christian population that represents 64.8% of religious people in the area. Despite a high Christian population, the area no longer represents the most religious suburb in Sydney. In the 2016 Census the Hills Shire was reported to be the tenth most religious suburb in metropolitan Sydney with 21.2% people reporting no religion. In the 2016 Census, the most religious area of metropolitan Sydney was instead Liverpool in South Western Sydney, with only 11.3% of people reporting to have no religion.
The moniker of the Sydney Bible Belt dates from early settlement, where Protestant and Methodist populations chose the more distant area as a buffer to the perceived inclinations of the young officer classes located around Parramatta and at Sydney Cove. The population's strong dislike for liquor made Castle Hill a temperance town where much of the land was covenanted to prohibit manufacture, storage or consumption of alcohol. This area now has a relatively high concentration of hotels and evangelical Christians. Many of the more recent religious denominations and belief systems to take root in this highly conservative and wealthy area are represented throughout the district, including, notably, the Mormon's Sydney Australia Temple in Carlingford and the Hillsong Church situated in Norwest Business Park. As with other urban regional areas in Australia there are numerous other places of worship catering to a wide range of belief systems including Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Hindu, Uniting, Chinese Christian, Islamic, Spiritualist, Roman Catholic and Sikh.
The strong evangelical Christian tinge of the region has made the Hills strongly conservative, a trend that runs right through local, state and Federal politics. The federal Division of Mitchell, which covers most of the area, is one of the safest seats in metropolitan Australia for the conservative Liberal Party of Australia, and all of the Hills District seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly are held by the Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division).
An extensive number of bus routes operate in the district, operated by Hillsbus, Busways and State Transit. The region is served by the North-West T-way, connecting the Hills District with Blacktown, Parramatta and Rouse Hill. The Carlingford railway line, operated by Sydney Trains, was the only railway line located in the district until recently. Infrequent services operate on the line from Carlingford to Clyde, where an interchange is required to continue to the city. However, the railway line will be converted into light rail as part of the Parramatta Light Rail project. Another railway line, the Metro North West Line, opened in May 2019, has a frequency of every 4 minutes in the peak hour to Chatswood railway station, where passengers can change to other trains towards the city.
The Hills district is served by a number of local newspapers: including:
- "Aborigenes in the Hills District" (PDF). Hills Shire Council.
- "History of The Hills Shire - The Hills Shire Timeline". Hills Shire Council Website.
- "Old Windsor and Windsor Road".
- "NW Transitway - Google Maps". 2017.
- 2016 Census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- "Bible Belt status holds - Hills Shire Times, 04/07/2017". newslocal.smedia.com.au. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "2016 Census QuickStats: The Hills Shire (A)". quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "2016 Census QuickStats: The Hills Shire (A)". quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "2016 Census QuickStats: Liverpool (C)". quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Castle Hill, New South Wales.|
- Hills District travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Out of the Mouths of Locals - article discussing the geography of the area and the snob value associated with the designation.