Regions of Sydney

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Satellite photo of the Sydney (centre) area at night, facing west by northwest. Wollongong can be seen at bottom left, while Gosford and the Central Coast are visible at the far right.

The metropolis of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, is informally subdivided into a number of geographic regions. These areas sometimes, but not always, roughly coincide with official boundaries of suburbs, local government authorities, or cadastral units (used for land title purposes), and some of the customary regions do not have well defined boundaries at all. Some commonly referred to regions overlap: for example, "Canterbury-Bankstown" is often referred to as a region, but it is also part of the "South Western Sydney" region. The regions themselves are not used as a formal jurisdiction, and generally do not have administrative or legislative bodies, although some regions are coterminous with a local government area, and in a number of regions that include multiple local government areas, Regional Organisations of Councils have been established that represent the councils in the region.

For government planning purposes, the metropolis of Sydney is divided in other ways, including into "districts" or "cities".[1]


Described as the City of Suburbs, the "regions" of Sydney acquired their distinct social-geographical characteristics as a result of successive waves of development and suburbanisation, as well as geography.

Prior to European arrival, Sydney was inhabited by a number of clans of Aboriginal people. The country inhabited by each clan is often defined by natural geographical features. As a result, there is often a degree of correlation between the traditional country of the Aboriginal custodians and the geographical regions. These include the Gadi of the Cadigal people, encompassing the City and the Eastern Suburbs;[2] the Wanne of the Wangal people, encompassing Inner West; the Wallumetta of the Wallumettagal people, encompassing the Ryde and Hunters Hill areas of Northern Sydney;[3] the Cammeray of the Cammeraygal people and the Gorual of the Gorualgal people, both in the Lower North Shore; and the Burramatta of the Burramattagal people, in Western Sydney.[4]

The "City" region is the site of the earliest urban settlement after European arrival in 1788. Until the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, development north of Sydney Harbour was constrained by geography, and most suburban development occurred in the areas immediately to the east and west of the City - the "Eastern Suburbs" and "Inner West" regions respectively. In the late 19th century, certain parts of those two regions were recognised as the premier residential areas of the emerging metropolis. Improved transport links across the Parramatta River began changing this by the end of the 19th century. The 1895 book How to Know Sydney named Strathfield (Inner West), Gladesville (Northern Suburbs), Double Bay, Darling Point, Rose Bay, Elizabeth, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay and Point Piper (all Eastern Suburbs) as the most "fashionable" residential suburbs, featuring large houses on extensive grounds.[5] The only suburb in this list which lay north of the river was Gladesville, which was serviced by a bridge across the Parramatta River built in 1881. The building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge led to rapid development of the "Lower North Shore" region, and soon after, the "Upper North Shore" and "Northern Beaches", as new developments with large houses on generous lots appealed to residents seeking the "picturesque suburb" lifestyle. Together with the oldest suburbs in the East and Inner West, these regions still contain the most desirable residential areas of Sydney: as at the end of 2021, the 20 most expensive postcode areas in Australia (measured by median house price) were all in metropolitan Sydney, and included 9 in the Eastern Suburbs, 4 in the Northern Beaches, 2 in the Lower North Shore, 3 in the Upper North Shore, 1 (Hunters Hill and Woolwich) in Northern Sydney and 1 (Strathfield) in the Inner West.[6]

At the same time, the arrival of the suburban railway around the end of the 19th century led to development of existing towns and villages into new urban centres outside the traditional metropolis, such as Parramatta, Bankstown and Liverpool. Increased urbanisation in the interwar years, and infill development after the Second World War, including projects built as part of the soldier settlement scheme,[7] eventually led to these centres becoming part of the metropolitan conurbation of Sydney. By the 1950s, previously rural areas such as the Sutherland Shire were becoming rapidly suburbanised.[8]

The 1951 County of Cumberland planning scheme attempted to rein in urban sprawl by designating an expansive "green belt", which would have limited further urbanisation beyond the already-urbanised parts of Western Sydney. The planned green belt stretched in a curve around Pennant Hills, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Seven Hills and Liverpool before ending on the banks of the Georges River opposite East Hills. A non-contiguous section would then have covered the western Sutherland Shire, roughly bordered by the Georges River in the north and the Woronora River in the east, connecting up existing national parks in the north and south.[9] The plan would have constrained suburbanised "Western Sydney" to a much smaller area than it is now, stretching from Lidcombe in the east to Westmead in the west, centred on the urban centre of Parramatta. However, the need to house an "explosion" in population after the war, together with continued demand for suburban housing, led to the "green belt" being whittled away starting from the 1960s. Although a version of the "green belt" survives, for example, in the form of the Western Sydney Parklands, today's "Greater Western Sydney" region is far larger than envisaged in the County of Cumberland plan, stretching contiguously west to Penrith and south beyond Campbelltown.[10]


The City is composed of the inner parts of the local government area of the City of Sydney.[11] The core of the region known as "City" is the Sydney CBD, and this is the "City" region in the narrow sense. However, "City" is often also used in a wider sense to include other inner suburbs within the City of Sydney local government area, such as Haymarket, The Rocks and Pyrmont.[11] In this wider sense, the City region roughly corresponds with the four cadastral parishes of St Andrews, St Philip, St James and St Lawrence.

Eastern suburbs[edit]

The suburbs to the east and southeast of the City, bounded by Sydney Harbour to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and Botany Bay to the south, are often referred to as the Eastern suburbs. In a narrower sense, "Eastern Suburbs" refers only to the approximately northern part of this area, directly to the east of the City, and the southern part of the area is referred to as "South-Eastern Sydney". By contrast, when used in the wider sense the “Eastern suburbs” are composed of the local government areas of the entirety of the Randwick, Waverley, Bayside Council (eastern part), Woollahra and the eastern parts of the City of Sydney.[12]

Eastern Suburbs[edit]

When used in the narrow sense, Sydney's Eastern Suburbs is centred on the Waverley and Woollahra council areas, sometimes extending south to include the northern part of the City of Randwick and west to include the eastern part of the City of Sydney. Suburbs located within the Eastern Suburbs in this narrower sense include Bronte, Bellevue Hill, Point Piper, and the inner suburbs of Paddington, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.[12] In this narrower sense, the Eastern Suburbs roughly correspond with the cadastral Parish of Alexandria.

South-Eastern Sydney[edit]

South-Eastern Sydney usually refers to the Bayside Council (sometimes eastern part only) and Randwick local government areas, as well as the southern part of the City of Sydney. South-Eastern Sydney roughly correspond with the cadastral Parish of Botany.

Western suburbs[edit]

The Western suburbs of Sydney is a large region, starting from the western boundary of the city centre and stretching some 60 kilometres to the west to the foothills of the Blue Mountains. This large area is conventionally divided into a number of regions (some of which overlap).

Inner West[edit]

The Inner West is primarily composed of the Inner West Council, Burwood Council, Municipality of Strathfield, and the City of Canada Bay local government areas. It may also be regarded as including small parts of nearby local government areas such as the northeastern part of the City of Canterbury-Bankstown and the western part of the City of Sydney. The region is approximately bounded by the Parramatta River in the north, Cooks River in the south, and in the west by the A3 arterial road (Centenary Drive / Homebush Bay Drive) and parklands adjacent to that road.

Suburbs usually regarded as being in the Inner West region include Abbotsford, Ashbury, Ashfield, Balmain, Burwood, Concord, Dulwich Hill, Five Dock, Homebush, Hurlstone Park, Leichhardt, Lilyfield, Newtown, Marrickville, Rozelle, Strathfield and Summer Hill. The Inner West roughly corresponds to the two cadastral parishes of Petersham (in the east) and Concord (in the west).

(Greater) Western Sydney[edit]

Western Sydney is generally regarded as the local government areas within metropolitan Sydney west of the Inner West. The region of Canterbury-Bankstown may or may not be regarded as part of Western Sydney, depending on context. Some councils of these local government areas participate in the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, whose members are: the City of Blacktown, City of Blue Mountains, Cumberland Council, City of Hawkesbury, City of Lithgow and City of Liverpool. Fairfield, Parramatta, Canterbury-Bankstown, Hills Shire and Penrith are no longer WSROC members, although these local government areas are still often regarded as part of Greater Western Sydney.

The New South Wales government's Office of Western Sydney uses the term "Greater Western Sydney", which extends further west to also include the Blue Mountains and Wollondilly Shire.

The primary regional centre of Western Sydney is Parramatta. Some notable suburbs across different local government areas in this region include Granville, Doonside, Cabramatta, Windsor, Wentworthville, Glenorie, Westmead, St Marys, Kellyville and Edmondson Park. Liverpool is another major centre within Western Sydney, usually regarded by the locals as the third largest CBD in Sydney, behind Sydney CBD and Parramatta.


The Canterbury-Bankstown region is centered on the City of Canterbury-Bankstown local government area but is not coextensive with it. It is generally regarded as the area bounded approximately by the Cooks River to the north and east, Wolli Creek to the south, and Salt Pan Creek and Duck River to the west. It covers the suburbs extending north-west from southern Canterbury, to the south of Lidcombe and north-east from Bankstown. The part of the City of Canterbury-Bankstown that lies north of the Cooks River is generally regarded as part of the Inner West region. The Canterbury-Bankstown region is a subset of South Western Sydney and Greater Western Sydney, and sometimes with some overlap with the Inner West and St George regions.

The primary centre of Canterbury-Bankstown is Bankstown. Some other notable suburbs in this LGA include Lakemba, Campsie, and Revesby.

Hills District[edit]

Suburbs in the Hills District are generally located within The Hills Shire local government area and parts of the City of Parramatta Council and Hornsby Shire are also included in the area. Suburbs include Castle Hill, West Pennant Hills, Glenhaven, Kenthurst, Annangrove, Dural, Beaumont Hills Kellyville, Baulkham Hills, and Rouse Hill.


The Macarthur region is located to the south-west of Sydney that includes the City of Campbelltown, Camden Council and Wollondilly Shire local government areas.

South Western Sydney[edit]

South Western Sydney is a customary region that includes the south-western part of metropolitan Sydney. When used in the narrow sense, "South Western Sydney" refers to the southern portion of Western Sydney, roughly including Liverpool, Campbelltown, Fairfield and some parts of the Canterbury-Bankstown local government areas.

The boundaries of this region are often imprecise, as it is sometimes also extended further north to include the Camden local government area, and sometimes even the Wollondilly Shire, in which usage the whole of the Macarthur region is included.

South Western Sydney, or "Sydney's southwest" as the media often calls it, is a subset of Greater Western Sydney.

Northern suburbs[edit]

The part of Sydney north of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River generally referred to as the Northern suburbs or Northern Sydney.

Northern Sydney includes suburbs in the local government areas of Hornsby Shire, City of Ryde, City of Willoughby, North Sydney Council, Municipality of Mosman, Municipality of Lane Cove, Northern Beaches Council, Ku-ring-gai Council, Municipality of Hunters Hill and the eastern parts of the City of Parramatta Council. Suburbs include Epping, Chatswood, Dee Why, Ryde and Manly.

The Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils represents the northern Sydney councils, other than Northern Beaches council.

Northern Beaches[edit]

The Northern Beaches generally correlates with the Northern Beaches Council local government area. Suburbs include Manly, Palm Beach and Seaforth.

Forest district[edit]

Sydney's Forest district is located within the Northern Beaches Council local government area and is also often included in the Northern Beaches or Upper North Shore regions. Suburbs include Frenchs Forest, Terrey Hills and Belrose.

Lower North Shore[edit]

The Lower North Shore, when used in a narrow sense, refers to the peninsula formed by the Lane Cove River on its western side, Sydney Harbour on its south side, and Middle Harbour on its east. It roughly corresponds with the cadastral Parish of Willoughby. Suburbs include Mosman and Cremorne Point. The Lower North Shore is a subset of the Northern Sydney regions. North Sydney is the regional centre of the Lower North Shore.

However, the regional name is also sometimes used in a wider sense to cover nearby suburbs to the west of the Lane Cove River but north of the Parramatta River. In this wider sense, the Lower North Shore includes the local government areas of the City of Willoughby, North Sydney Council, Municipality of Mosman, Municipality of Lane Cove, Municipality of Hunters Hill and parts of City of Ryde. The cadastral Parish of Hunters Hill is in the Lower North Shore in this wider sense.

Upper North Shore[edit]

The Upper North Shore refers to suburbs adjoining the upper section of Lane Cove National Park, or suburbs between Roseville and Hornsby. The region is composed of the local government areas of the Ku-ring-gai Council and the Hornsby Shire. Suburbs include Gordon, Pymble and Thornleigh. The Lower North Shore and Upper North Shore are sometimes together referred to as the North Shore. The Upper North Shore is a subset of the Northern Sydney region.

Southern suburbs[edit]

The suburbs approximately to the south of Wolli Creek and the Sydney Airport are generally referred to as the southern suburbs or Southern Sydney.

Southern Sydney is composed of the Bayside Council (part), Georges River Council and the Sutherland Shire local government areas. Suburbs include Kyle Bay, Kangaroo Point and Cronulla.

In addition, an area to the south and southwest of the Sydney CBD, within the City of Sydney local government area and immediately to the north of the Bayside Council local government area, have an imprecise regional identity. These suburbs include Alexandria, Beaconsfield and Zetland. They are sometimes identified as part of the, sometimes as part of the Southern suburbs, sometimes as part of the Eastern suburbs. In other contexts, they are identified as part of an "inner City" region or an "inner South" sub-region.

St George[edit]

The St George area includes all the suburbs in the Georges River Council and part of the Bayside Council government areas. This area corresponds to the eastern part of the cadastral Parish of St George, from which the region derives its name. The western part of the Parish of St George was formerly in the City of Canterbury and now within Canterbury-Bankstown council.

Sutherland Shire[edit]

The Shire generally correlates with the Sutherland Shire local government area. Suburbs include Miranda, Cronulla and Taren Point.

Blue Mountains[edit]

The region is mainly composed of the City of Blue Mountains, which borders on Sydney's metropolitan area, its foothills starting about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of the state capital. Major towns in this local government area include Katoomba, Blackheath and Springwood.[13]

Greater Sydney Commission subdivisions[edit]

The Greater Sydney Commission's regional plan for Sydney divide the metropolis into three "cities", with approximately defined boundaries. Alternatively, the metropolis is divided into more precisely defined "districts", each of which comprises multiple local government areas.[1] This scheme of division is also followed for metropolis-wide planning purposes by other New South Wales government bodies, such as in the government's "Future Transport Strategy".[14]

The three cities[edit]

The "metropolis of three cities" comprises:

  • Eastern Harbour City: approximately including the City, the Inner West, the Eastern Suburbs, the North Shore, the Northern Beaches, St George, Sutherland and Canterbury-Bankstown. The Sydney CBD is the centre of this city.
  • Central River City: approximately including the Greater Western Sydney suburbs bounded by Hornsby, Rouse Hill, Blacktown, Fairfield, Bankstown and Sydney Olympic Park. Parramatta is the centre of this city.
  • Western Parkland City: approximately including the remainder of Greater Western Sydney, to the west of the Central River City. This expansive city has multiple centres, including Penrith, Liverpool, Campbelltown-Macarthur and the future Western Sydney Airport Aerotropolis.

The districts[edit]

The more precisely defined "districts" are the following:

  • Central City District: including the northwestern local government areas of Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta and the Hills Shire.
  • Eastern City District: including the eastern, central and inner western local government areas of Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, City of Sydney, Inner West, Randwick, Strathfield, Waverley and Woollahra.
  • North District: including the northeastern local government areas of Hornsby, Hunter's Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Mosman, North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Ryde and Willoughby
  • South District: including the southern local government areas of Canterbury-Bankstown, Georges River and Sutherland
  • Western City District: including the western local government areas of Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.

A district plan has been formulated for each district, and local government authorities are required to align their planning instruments to the priorities listed in the Metropolis of Three Cities (Regional Plan) and the relevant District Plan.


  1. ^ a b Greater Sydney Commission, Greater Sydney Region Plan, March 2018, p.25
  2. ^ "Aboriginal histories". City of Sydney. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Aboriginal History". City of Ryde. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Daraug Language". Archived from the original on 2 May 2013.
  5. ^ P. Mar, Accommodating Places (2002), Chapter 7, quoting How to Know Sydney 1895
  6. ^ Sweeney, N., "Sydney dominates Melbourne for the 20 most expensive postcodes", The Australian Financial Review
  7. ^ Olling, Wayne (2005). "Grantham Heritage Park Memorial". War Memorials in Australia. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  9. ^ Cumberland County Council (1948). "County of Cumberland planning scheme".
  10. ^ Daniels, S., "How a post-war population explosion put an end to Sydney's 'visionary' Green Belt plan", 29 March 2018, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  11. ^ a b website
  12. ^ a b National Regional Profile : Eastern Suburbs (Statistical Subdivision).
  13. ^ Gregory's New South Wales State Road Map, Map 220, 11th Edition, Gregory's Publishing Company
  14. ^ NSW Government - Future Transport Strategy

External links[edit]