Wingecarribee Shire (also known just as the Southern Highlands) is the Local Government Area (LGA) of the Southern Highlands in New South Wales of Australia. The Wingecarribee Shire is located around 110 km southwest of Sydney and is part of regional Capital Country and to some extent can be considered part of the Southern Tablelands.
The entire Southern Highlands region and district is under the authority of the LGA or council. Moreover, the area that makes up the Wingecarribee Shire is typically just referred as Southern Highlands instead of the Shire’s actual name of Wingecarribee Shire.
The Council Seat and Chambers is based in Moss Vale. However, the centre of commerce of the Shire is based in Bowral.
The Shire came into existence on 1 January 1981 as an amalgamation of the three previous local government areas that made up the Highlands; Mittagong Shire Council (previously Nattai Shire Council), Bowral Municipality Council and former Wingecarribee Shire (based in Moss Vale).
Major Towns and Villages
The major towns in the Shire are Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Robertson and Bundanoon.
Villages include: Balmoral Village, Hill Top, Colo Vale, Yerrinbool, Burrawang, Burradoo, Berrima, Sutton Forest, Avoca, Exeter, Wingello, Welby and Penrose.
The current shire retains the name of the former Wingecarribee Shire because the Wingecarribee River is one of the most significant geographical features that is found in all the three previous local government areas that made up the Highlands prior to amalgamation.
The word Wingecarribee is from the Dharawal language (an Indigenous Australian language) which loosely translates into “a flight of birds”, or “waters to rest beside”. Moreover, the term “Wingecarribee” was used as the name of the area by the first settlers of the area, the Oxley Family (See, History of Bowral) and Governor Macquarie in 1816 recorded it as “Winge Karribee”. In 1838, the contemporary spelling was adapted by Surveyor Mitchell.
The Shire is crossed by the Hume Highway and the Southern Highlands railway line.
The pattern of development is one of small towns and villages. The eastern parts of the Shire are bounded by the Illawarra escarpment and Morton National Park, with some remnant rainforest and heathland. The north of the Shire is characterised by rugged eucalypt bushland, with gullies, gorges and sandy soils. This area forms part of the catchment for Sydney’s water supply and two major storage dams (Avon and Nepean Dams) are located in this area. The dams cannot be accessed by any roads within the Wingecarribee Shire but by roads leading off south-east of the Wollondilly Shire. The Wollondilly and Wingecarribee Rivers flow through the west of the Shire, through deep sandstone valleys and much of this area forms part of the catchment for Warragamba Dam. The south of the Shire is bounded by Uringalla Creek and is a sandstone plateaux dissected by deep gorges.
Wingecarribee Swamp is home to the remaining population of the endangered Giant dragonfly and Wingecarribee Leek Orchid.