South Western Slopes

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South Western Slopes
New South Wales
Emus in Weddin Mountains National Park.JPG
IBRA 6.1 NSW South Western Slopes.png
The interim Australian bioregions,
with South Western Slopes in red
Area86,811.26 km2 (33,518.0 sq mi)
Localities around South Western Slopes:
Darling Riverine Plains Brigalow Belt South Sydney Basin
Cobar Peneplain South Western Slopes South Eastern Highlands
Riverina South Eastern Highlands South Eastern Highlands

The South Western Slopes, also known as the South West Slopes, is a region predominantly in New South Wales, Australia. It covers the lower inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range extending from north of Cowra through southern NSW into western Victoria. More than 90% of the region is in the state of New South Wales and it occupies about 10% of that state.


The South Western Slopes bioregion covers the lower inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range extending from north of Cowra through southern NSW into eastern Victoria. More than 90% of the region is in the state of New South Wales and it occupies about 10% of that state – more than 80,000 km2.[1][2]

The bioregion includes parts of the Murray, Murrumbidgee, Lachlan and Macquarie River catchments.[3]

The bioregion is divided into three sub-regions: [4]

  • Inland Slopes subregion (NSS01)
  • Lower Slopes subregion (NSS02)
  • Capertee Valley subregion (NSS03)


Mean annual temperatures in the region are cool to mild; ranging from 8 °C (46 °F) to 16 °C (61 °F) depending on altitude and latitude, with an annual rainfall of 500 millimetres (20 in) on the far western plain to as much as 1,700 millimetres (67 in) on the western face of the Snowy Mountains.[5]

Snowfalls are common on the higher slopes above an altitude of approximately 600 metres (2,000 ft) in the southernmost boundary of the region; and above 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in the northernmost boundary, but may occur as low as 300 metres (980 ft) or less. Snow has been recorded on a few occasions to fall and settle as low as Albury and Wagga Wagga, 165 metres (541 ft) and 180 metres (590 ft) respectively. Sleet moreover is usually a widespread occurrence throughout the region, even in the lowland areas—especially in the south. Depending on latitude, precipitation peaks in either winter or spring; the more southern areas show a distinct winter peak, as opposed to one of springtime. High summer to mid autumn is usually the driest period and is prone to severe drought.

This region features the greatest seasonal range of maximum temperatures than any other in Australia: on account of being windward of the Great Dividing Range, with the prevailing westerlies making for particularly low maximum temperatures in winter; jointly with its far inland location, which strengthens heatwaves in summer. Therefore, these areas have a climate that is more similar to that of Adelaide and Perth, than the proximate cities like Sydney and Wollongong, with their wet winters and relatively dry summers.

Forecast area for Bureau of Meteorology[edit]

The south west slopes forecast area used by the Bureau of Meteorology includes Young and Tumbarumba. The area is smaller than that defined as a bioregion by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.[6]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Most of the site is modified wheat-growing and sheep-grazing country with only vestiges of its original vegetation. Remnant patches of woodland and scattered large trees, especially of mugga ironbark, apple box, grey box, white box, yellow box, red box, yellow gum, river red gum and Blakely's red gum, still provide habitat for the parrots. Protected areas within the site include several nature reserves and state forests, as well as the Livingstone and Weddin Mountains National Parks, and Tarcutta Hills Reserve.

Important Bird Area[edit]

An area of 25,653 square kilometres (9,905 sq mi), largely coincident with the bioregion, has been identified by BirdLife International as the South-west Slopes of NSW Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports a significant wintering population of endangered swift parrots and most of the largest population of vulnerable superb parrots, as well as populations of painted honeyeaters and diamond firetails.[7]

Protected areas[edit]

The South Western Slopes of NSW are some of the most highly cleared and altered lands in the state. Native vegetation remains generally only in small, isolated patches. Substantial clearing continues. Less than 2% of the bioregion is protected as reserves. Conservation efforts are focussing on landholder stewardship agreements.[8][9]

Human settlement[edit]

The South Western Slopes was occupied by the Wiradjuri people, the largest Aboriginal language group in NSW.[10]

Towns within the bioregion from Albury in the south to Dunedoo in the northeast, include Wagga Wagga, Junee, Cootamundra, Tumut, Tumbarumba, Gundagai and Young. Griffith lies just outside the western boundary and Crookwell lies just outside the eastern boundary of the bioregion.[1]

Local government areas included in the bioregion:


  1. ^ a b NSW NPWS Map of bioregion (pdf) Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ R Thackway; I D Cresswell, eds. (2005). "New South Wales South West Slopes: from Description of IBRA Regions for Australia". An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: A Framework for Setting Priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program. Australian Nature Conservation Agency (On internet by Department of the Environment and Heritage). Archived from the original on 4 September 2006. Retrieved 14 August 2006.
  3. ^ "NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service information about the bioregion". Archived from the original on 28 August 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2006.
  4. ^ "Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA7) regions and codes". Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Commonwealth of Australia. 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  5. ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: South-west Slopes of NSW. Downloaded from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) on 19 October 2011.
  6. ^ New South Wales Forecast Area Map
  7. ^ "IBA: South-west Slopes of NSW". Birdata. Birds Australia. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Biodiversity Assessment – NSW South Western Slopes". Australian Natural resources Atlas. Department of the Environment and Heritage (Australia). 2002. Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2006.
  9. ^ "South Western Slopes – bioregional-scale conservation". National Parks and Wildlife Service. 2004. Archived from the original on 29 May 2004. Retrieved 14 August 2006.
  10. ^ "South Western Slopes – regional history". National Parks and Wildlife Service. 2004. Archived from the original on 3 September 2006. Retrieved 14 August 2006.