At a Glance
- total area: 20,706 km2
- total population (ABS 2016): 296,531
- fastest growing region in NSW
- defined by the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence river systems
- embraces National Parks, world heritage sites, pristine rainforest and a magnificent coastline
- superb natural – and dynamic social – environments
- popular choice for alternative lifestyles and innovative businesses opportunities
- a rich indigenous cultural history dating back at least 12,000 years
- large regional centres: Tweed Heads, Lismore, Ballina and Grafton joined by major access routes
- smaller ‘specialist’ towns include Murwillumbah (sugar) Byron Bay (surfing) and Casino (beef) and a network of vibrant coastal and hinterland villages
- population diversity and vitality is a most endearing quality – villages like Nimbin are internationally renowned alternative lifestyle centres
- a high proportion of innovative and creative people live here
- liveability is enhanced by Southern Cross University, North Coast Institute of TAFE, and the rich, diverse, social and cultural activities and facilities
Industry and investment prospects
Firms now have greater flexibility regarding location, enabling a choice to locate in the regions, rather than large metropolitan centres. Global production systems and developing links to global economic opportunities are getting stronger. The digital revolution, improvements in transport infrastructure and emerging networks of small to medium local businesses providing economies of scale, allow people to live and operate their businesses from the Northern Rivers while taking full advantage of global market opportunities.
The Pacific Highway upgrade has cut travel times to both Brisbane and Sydney. Improvements to other major road transport routes and the rail line to the north and south will cut travel times and help create a competitive option for transporting goods to markets. Airport infrastructure has been boosted by the emergence of Coolangatta International Airport. Increased traveler numbers for Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport will continue to grow with improvements to the terminal and runway.
Most of the region is now connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) with the rollout expected to be completed in 2019. The improved connectivity will drive new investment opportunities, some yet to be imagined.
Improved access to Brisbane and Sydney and an improving ICT infrastructure, improve prospects for home-based businesses including multimedia and the cultural industries, including for those who tele-commuted to the Northern Rivers during the past two decades.
Investment opportunities are driven by population growth, natural resource endowments, infrastructure, industry and investment prospects, lifestyle opportunities, knowledge and skills.
At June 2008 around 20% of the NSW population (1.38 million people) lived in coastal local government areas (LGAs) outside the Sydney statistical division. The largest and fastest population increase was in Tweed – on the far north coast – with an increase of 2,200 people (2.6%). Other coastal LGAs experiencing fast population growth included Byron Bay (1.6%) and Ballina (1.5%).
The region’s magnificent natural attributes of National Parks, world heritage areas, rainforests and popular coastline are a driving factor in the growth of the tourism industry.
The diversity of cultural and social opportunities (e.g. music, festivals, markets, arts) attracts creative people from all walks of life who bring new skills to the region. Improvements in ICT infrastructure encourage professionals to establish and operate home-based businesses here to maximise life/work balance.
Click HERE for a fact sheet about the region from the NSW Department of Industry