NSW Department of Planning and Environment

The most diverse regional economy in NSW with a vibrant network of centres leveraging the opportunities of being at the heart of NSW

The Central West and Orana is home to more than 300,000 people. People from metropolitan areas are attracted to its vibrant regional cities and centres, historic towns and villages, diverse lifestyles, and community festivals and events.

The region makes a major contribution to the State’s economy, building on its proud agricultural heritage and embracing innovation. Its rich soils, mountains and vast plains form a mosaic of beautiful landscapes.

Productive and diversified agribusiness, manufacturing, mineral and renewable energy resources provide local job opportunities.

Tourism, health and education drive a growing service economy that underpins community vibrancy and creates more diverse job opportunities. The region identifies, protects, and sustainably farms its high-quality agricultural lands.

Ongoing leadership in agricultural innovation makes the region a preferred destination for food processing, packaging and associated industries.

These industries produce high-quality products that are distributed domestically and around the world.

Improved transport connections with Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle, together with the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, provide capacity and connectivity for agribusiness, manufacturing, tourism and mining.

Investment in roads and logistics facilities provide a more efficient network, making the region a nationally significant freight hub.

The mineral and energy resources sectors make a significant economic contribution, with new mining opportunities emerging across the region.

Landmark solar, wind and bioenergy projects distinguish the region as a leader in renewable energy development.

Significant and internationally recognised landscapes, including the Blue Mountains, the western plains and expansive river systems and wetlands, enrich the lives of residents and visitors and are providing opportunities for future generations. Increasing numbers of visitors enjoy diverse cultural festivals and events and unique attractions, such as Taronga Western Plains Zoo and Mount Panorama raceway.

The regional cities of Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo and other centres capitalise on their proximity to Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra and their location at the junction of nationally significant road and rail corridors.

These connections and centres allow people living in rural communities to access high quality health, aged care and community services and facilities. Local service centres benefit from increased economic activity in the agribusiness, tourism and service sectors. Greater housing diversity and choice across the region meets community demand.

To achieve this vision the NSW Government has:

  • acknowledged the two diverse parts of the region:
    • one connecting with metropolitan cities to the east, and
    • the other taking advantage of freight and logistics infrastructure to access domestic and global markets and set the following regionally focused goals:
      • The most diverse regional economy in NSW
      • A stronger, healthier environment and diverse heritage
      • Quality freight, transport and infrastructure networks
      • Dynamic, vibrant and healthy communities.

2036 Vision

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Leveraging a region of two distinct parts

A key component in the Central West and Orana’s success 

The Central West and Orana includes the distinctive agricultural hinterland of the Central West and the vast slopes and plains of the Orana.

These two parts function in different ways, but when brought together they create a dynamic and resilient region that is stronger than the individual parts.

Historically, the Central West was considered part of Sydney’s hinterland. It has grown to create a successful broad economic base, with a network of centres developed to service rural communities as growth expanded over the Blue Mountains. This close pattern of settlement is reflected in the numerous villages and centres clustered along key corridors and the development of the twin centres of Forbes and Parkes, and Bathurst and Orange. The twin centres utilise their proximity to leverage the strengths of each individual centre.

The Central West will continue to benefit from its connections to Sydney, including the new Western Sydney Airport, and from Canberra’s increasing global connectivity.

The Orana includes some of the State’s most productive agricultural areas. Infrastructure improvements will strengthen the Orana’s supply chain with markets across Australia and the world.

The city of Dubbo has grown at the geographical centre of the region to become the inter- and intra-regional functional and economic centre.

Dubbo serves as the central hub for connections to a large number of dispersed rural communities.

These self-reliant communities provide services to their immediate and wider catchment communities.

Planning for the region’s prosperity recognises these differences and leverages competitive advantages and opportunities. This includes growing demand from Asia for agricultural produce, increasing tourism opportunities, and an expanding service economy in health, aged care and education services.

To capitalise on these advantages and unlock economic potential, existing infrastructure will be improved and better used to ensure there is efficient supply chains and accessibility through the Blue Mountains to Sydney, along the Golden Highway to Newcastle and to the emerging market opportunities associated with Canberra.

Five key components for Central West and Orana's diversified economy

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The two parts of Central West and Orana

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Transport and logistics

The Central West and Orana shares borders and connections with six of NSW’s 10 regions. It connects along interstate transport links between Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane, and has the only double-stacked containerised freight connection with Western Australia. The region will capitalise on these locational strengths to harness economic growth.

Many of NSW’s freight connections converge in Parkes and Dubbo. These major freight hubs act as an aggregation point for selling, processing, manufacturing and transporting livestock and agricultural produce to markets and ports across Australia.

The links through the Blue Mountains to Sydney will be important for the region’s prosperity, capitalising on Western Sydney’s rapid growth and the opportunities from the planned Western Sydney Airport.

More than half of the road freight transport between the Central West and Sydney uses the Great Western Highway, which has been upgraded to four lanes between Emu Plains and Katoomba. Better connections are also available through road safety improvements and traffic efficiencies on Bells Line of Road.

Connections east to Newcastle and south-east to Canberra and Port Kembla provide additional direct access to markets and export gateways.

An upgraded Newell Highway and Golden Highway, and the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, could boost the region’s reputation as a freight hub and increase opportunities for freight and logistics facilities and intermodals close to road and rail corridors.

Agribusiness and value added opportunities

The region has a strong agricultural history. The Central West’s scenic tablelands support cool climate viticulture, forestry and grazing. The slopes and plains of the Orana support diverse agribusiness enterprises, and broadscale and irrigated agriculture. These diverse agricultural industries provide employment for people living in areas such as Narromine and Coonamble, both directly in production and indirectly in supporting agribusiness.

The diversity and quality of agricultural commodities provide enormous potential for value-added opportunities. The region’s two parts interact to benefit the entire region and maximise value-added opportunities. Processing facilities in the Central West rely partly on agricultural produce from the Orana and vice versa. The established processing and manufacturing industries in Dubbo, Blayney, Manildra and Bathurst will encourage related industry development and attract investment.

The synergies between the two parts of the region will maximise future innovation opportunities and increase productivity.


The region’s diverse landscapes and communities, location, history and transport connections make tourism an important industry. Parts of the region are less than three hours from Sydney and Canberra, and the region sits halfway between Victoria and Queensland.

Tourist attractions include the natural assets of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and the internationally recognised Macquarie Marshes; national attractions of Siding Spring Observatory and Taronga Western Plains Zoo; and attractive historical towns and villages, such as Gulgong and Millthorpe.

Opportunities around the arts, events, festivals, sports and conference tourism include motor racing at Mount Panorama in Bathurst, F.O.O.D Week in Orange, Canowindra International Balloon Challenge and the Parkes Elvis Festival.

The region will draw more weekend visitors from Sydney and Canberra, and increasingly from overseas, including emerging opportunities from the growing Asian middle class.

The stronger the connections across the region, with centres in adjoining regions and with Sydney and Canberra, the greater will be the region’s ability to capitalise on tourism opportunities.

Mining and renewables

The region’s mining sector includes coal mining concentrated around Lithgow and Mudgee; gold, silver and copper mining; and emerging opportunities for rare earth mining in other parts of the region, including Dubbo.

Renewable energy generation will also create a more sustainable energy future for the region.

Growth in wind energy, solar energy and bioenergy generation will promote local jobs in smaller communities and development opportunities for associated industries. Wind generation opportunities are focused around the tablelands and slopes of the Central West, while the large open plains of the Orana provide the best access for solar energy generation.

A growing service sector

The hinterland, tablelands, slopes and plains across a network of centres support a diversity of industries. These industries form economic building blocks for growing the regional cities and centres. This growth will drive demand for high quality health, education and recreation choices.

Regional cities and strategic centres provide higher-order services to extensive networks of surrounding settlements, including essential regional services at major hospitals and university campuses.

The regional cities and strategic centres have the opportunity to cluster economic activity around local industries, be a source of economic diversity and provide more skilled job opportunities. For example, activities associated with Dubbo Hospital and Charles Sturt University will foster regional economic vibrancy and resilience.

Specific industry development like manufacturing and value-adding of local produce in Blayney, Manildra and Cowra will help sustain these important economies into the future.

The health care and education sectors will deliver important services, particularly around existing health facilities in Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst, Mudgee and Parkes. With an ageing population, demand for health services will increase in both cities and local centres, as will demand and opportunities for skilled workers to provide these services.

Growing the cities, strategic centres and local centres as the principle places for jobs, commerce, retail and social activity will help promote a sense of place. It will also service the growing populations and maintain the vitality of business precincts.

Expanding tertiary education services and online access to education, particularly in smaller and isolated communities, will increase access to services and sustain community wellbeing.

Top three economic opportunities per local government area

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central west and orana regional plan top 3 economic opportunities per local government area


The Central West and Orana sits at the heart of New South Wales and is poised to take advantage of this pivotal position to make for an exciting future.

We’ve heard community and stakeholder aspirations for the region, and drawn on this feedback to create a Regional Plan that focuses on a diverse economy, supported by expanded connections to the rest of NSW and beyond, with vibrant communities and prosperous centres.

The Plan celebrates the distinct landscapes and natural environment and their important role in new economic opportunities, including significant agribusiness, value-added manufacturing developments and unique tourism experiences.

The Plan promotes further development of the renewable energy, mining, health and education sectors to unlock economic potential and drive diversification across the Central West and Orana.

Upgrades to transport and freight networks will facilitate economic growth and diversification by unlocking new export opportunities, strengthening the region’s cities and centres and enhancing productivity of the agricultural, mining and natural resources sectors.

The development of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, alongside upgrades to the Newell and Golden Highways, has the potential to transform the Central West and Orana into one of the key freight and logistics destinations in Australia. In doing so, it will create more dynamic and resilient communities adapting to changing economic, social and environmental circumstances.

Regional cities and strategic centres will experience the highest rates of population growth over the next 20 years, alongside Cabonne and Blayney local government areas. The regional cities and strategic centres will be the service hubs for surrounding communities, providing access to jobs, health and education services.

Smaller communities will play an increasingly important role in attracting visitors and new residents through their lifestyle choices and countryside. These areas will make important contributions to the regional economy through taking up new jobs in agribusiness and tourism.

The Plan aims to meet the needs of changing communities, particularly for the ageing population, by promoting greater housing choices, improved housing affordability, access to health and education services and public and community transport.

We recognise the Wiradjuri, Gamilaraay and Wayliwan people as the original custodians of the Central West and Orana. They are important partners in the economic, social and environmental future of the region and we will continue to work together and increase collaboration.

The Central West and Orana Region Regional Plan 2036 encompasses a vision, goals and actions focused towards delivering new and diversified opportunities in the years ahead for those who live, work and visit this region.

I urge everyone committed to the Central West and Orana to collaborate and support its success.

Anthony Roberts MP
Minister for Planning
Minister for Housing
Special Minister of State


The Central West and Orana is one of NSW’s most diverse regional economies, increasingly connected with cities to the east and building the capacity of its freight and logistics infrastructure

The Central West and Orana sits at the heart of NSW, with access to all corners of the State and beyond. Its varied landscapes support a diverse and productive economy that leverages connections to Sydney, Canberra and, increasingly, Newcastle. These connections – along with domestic and international supply chains to the north, south and west – create a diverse and productive economy.

Investment in roads, rail networks and telecommunications will boost opportunities for agribusiness, advanced and value-added manufacturing, mining and tourism sectors.

By 2036, the region’s population will increase to more than 300,000 people, who will mainly live in the regional cities of Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo, the strategic centres of Lithgow, Mudgee and Cowra, and the twin centres of Parkes and Forbes. These places will provide new options and opportunities for surrounding networks of communities.

Internationally recognised environmental assets, such as the Macquarie Marshes and Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, along with major attractions, including the Taronga Western Plains Zoo and festivals and events, will attract increasing numbers of visitors.

This makes for an exciting future for the region, and the Central West and Orana Regional Plan 2036 is the blueprint for that future.

The Plan will guide the NSW Government’s land use planning priorities and decisions over the next 20 years. It is not intended to be a step-by-step approach to all land use planning. Rather, it provides an overarching framework to guide subsequent and more detailed land use plans, development proposals and infrastructure funding decisions.

The Implementation Plan (PDF, 5.7 MB) that accompanies this Plan includes priority actions as well as medium- and longer-term actions to coincide with population and economic change.

Local Government Narratives set out priorities for each council to guide further investigation and implementation.

The Central West and Orana Regional Plan 2036 is the product of extensive consultation with councils, stakeholders and the wider community, following the release of a draft Plan in 2016. The feedback from this consultation has been integrated into this document.

Central West and Orana infrastructure investments

NSW Government investments in the Central West and Orana include:

  • $241.3 million for the Dubbo Base Hospital redevelopment;
  • $60 million to upgrade Mudgee Hospital;
  • $140 million towards construction of a third bridge crossing at Dubbo;
  • $28 million towards the Bells Line of Road upgrade;
  • $21 million for a five-stage potable water supply pipeline from Orange to Blayney and Carcoar Dam;
  • $17 million for a potable water pipeline from Orange to Molong Dam, and from Molong to Cumnock and Yeoval;
  • $2.5 million for the new Molong Ambulance Station; and
  • establishment of Multi-Purpose Services at Molong, Coolah and Rylstone.

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Delivering the Plan

The NSW Government’s commitment

To deliver the Central West and Orana Regional Plan 2036, all levels of government, the private sector and the community will have to work together. The Plan needs to be incorporated into each stakeholder’s future activities.


The NSW Government has established the Central West and Orana Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee to deliver, coordinate and be accountable for achieving the vision and goals of this Plan. This dedicated new body comprises of representatives from Joint Organisations, Regional Organisations of Councils and State agencies. It will listen and work with stakeholders to align growth with infrastructure to support growth and change in the region.


The Committee will take ownership for implementing this Plan – prioritising the actions needed to seize on immediate and emerging opportunities for the region. In the short term, its focus will be on growing the agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, mining and renewable energy sectors; planning for growth and change in the region’s centres; and enhancing the regional freight network. Over time, the Committee will identify new priorities to support regional growth.

The Plan sets regional planning priorities and provides a framework for regional and local planning decisions. The NSW Government will use it to advise infrastructure agencies about the timing of new developments, and to inform the ongoing planning and delivery of infrastructure, asset management and services.

The Plan sets in place line-of-sight land use planning for the region and local government areas to identify and resolve issues. Line-of-sight planning will allow issues to be identified and resolved early, rather than at the development application stage.

This Plan is accompanied by an Implementation Plan for 2017-2019.

Regional district planning may be undertaken in partnership with all stakeholders, led by the Committee. The Plan highlights potential priorities for regional district planning where matters cross jurisdictional boundaries.

A Government direction will be issued so that when councils prepare new planning proposals or update local planning controls, they are consistent with the vision and guiding principles of this Plan.

The Local Government Narratives provide guidance for each council as they prepare local land use strategies. The Committee will support this work to ensure local plans translate the vision and guiding principles of this Plan into local priorities for growth and change.


Central West and Orana Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee
  • Aligning across Government
  • Partnering with local government
  • Listening to the community
  • Actioning the Implementation Plan
  • Supporting local planning
  • Monitoring activity and trends
  • Publishing annual reports and information
  • Revising and adjusting directions towards goals


The Committee will monitor and review progress towards achieving the vision and goals for 2036 to help prioritise infrastructure delivery and influence policy settings.

An annual report will measure performance against indicators for housing, employment, communities and the environment, and include advice to Government on the delivery of short-term actions.

The Committee will review the Plan every five years, or as necessary, to help realise the vision for 2036.

State planning hierarchy

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Page last updated: 28/07/2022