New South Wales
The Hills District (alternatively, the Hills Shire, the Hills, or Sydney Hills, previously Baulkham Hills Shire, the Garden Shire) is a general term for the north-western suburbs of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Its constituent suburbs are generally located within the local government area of The Hills Shire; some parts of the Hornsby Shire are also included in the area that is given the title the Hills District.
Actual suburbs and localities that are considered to be in the Hills District can be somewhat amorphous and variable according to who is doing the listing. 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 Pennant Hills Road and north of Windsor Road, extending out as far as Boundary Road Vineyard (the western boundary of the Hills Shire). Generally, residents of West Pennant Hills think of themselves as being in the Hills District, however those in Pennant Hills, Thornleigh and Westleigh are more likely to think of themselves as being part of the North Shore or Northern Suburbs.
The region is so named for its characteristically comparatively hilly topography as the Sydney Basin lifts up joining the Hornsby Plateau along Castle Hill Road from Thompson's Corner (West Pennant Hills) west to Rogan's Hill with the Hawkesbury Plain lifting up and joining the same Hornsby Plateau north along Old Northern Road through Round Corner up to Middle Dural. Several of its suburbs have the word 'Hills' in their names, such as Baulkham Hills, Beaumont Hills, Castle Hill, Pennant Hills, Rouse Hill, West Pennant Hills, and Winston Hills.
Land grants in the district were made not long after settlement began along the Aboriginal walking trail leading from Parramatta up to the first European settlement the prison town at Castle Hill, however much of the district owes its development to the construction of the railway line between Strathfield and Hornsby, which was declared open on 17 September 1886, some 15 years before Federation, and almost a century after land grants were first made in the area.
According to the 2011 ABS Census, The Hills Shire is home to 169,872 permanent residents. The Census of Population and Housing states that as much as 22% of the population is over 55 years of age.
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 notable for a time for having the highest rate of religious service attendance in Australia, reinforcing the status often referred to as the Australian Bible belt. The moniker 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 Liberals.
An extensive number of bus routes operate in the district, operated by Hillsbus, Busways and Sydney Buses. 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, is the only railway line located in the district. Infrequent services operate on the line from Carlingford to Clyde, where an interchange is required to continue to the city. The deficiency of public transport in the area is often criticised. Due to low density planning the bus service within many of the suburbs is slow and infrequent. However, the long-promised North West Rail Link has been approved for construction with a proposed opening by 2019.
- 2011 Census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- "North West Rail Link | North West Rail Line". Northwestrail.com.au. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
|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.