The Hills Shire (from 1906–2008 as Baulkham Hills Shire) is a local government area in the Greater Western Sydney region of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The suburb is north-west of the Sydney central business district, and encompasses 401 square kilometres (155 sq mi) stretching from the M2 Hills Motorway in the south to Wiseman's Ferry on the Hawkesbury River in the north. The Hills Shire had a population of 157,243 as at the 2016 census.The current Mayor of The Hills Shire is Cr. Michelle Byrne (Liberal), who was elected on 9 September 2017.
Suburbs in the local government area
Suburbs at least partially within The Hills Shire are:
At the 2016 census, there were 157,243 people in The Hills local government area; of these 49.3 per cent were male and 50.7 per cent were female. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 0.5 per cent of the population; significantly below the NSW and Australian averages of 2.9 and 2.8 per cent respectively. The median age of people in The Hills Shire was 38 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 21.4 per cent of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 13.5 per cent of the population. Of people in the area aged 15 years and over, 61.6 per cent were married and 7.1 per cent were either divorced or separated.Population growth in The Hills Shire between the 2001 census and the 2006 census was 15.2 per cent; and in the subsequent five years to the 2011 census, population growth was 6.58 per cent. At the 2016 census, the population in the Shire decreased by 7.43 per cent, brought about by a reduction in the Shire area from 401 square kilometres (155 sq mi) to 386 square kilometres (149 sq mi) due to the 2015 review of local government boundaries when former parts of The Hills Shire were transferred to the City of Parramatta Council. Total population growth of Australia for the period between the 2011 and 2016 census periods was 8.8 per cent. The median weekly income for residents within The Hills Shire was approximately 150% higher than the national average.At the 2016 census, the proportion of residents in The Hills local government area who stated their ancestry as Australian or Anglo-Saxon approached 32 per cent of all residents. In excess of 64 per cent of all residents in The Hills Shire nominated a religious affiliation with Christianity at the 2016 census, which was in excess of the national average of 57.7 per cent. Meanwhile, as at the census date, compared to the national average, households in The Hills local government area had a higher than average proportion (37.2 per cent) where two or more languages are spoken (national average was 22.2 per cent); and a lower proportion (65.3 per cent) where English only was spoken at home (national average was 72.7 per cent).
Current Council composition and election method
The Hills Shire Council is composed of twelve Councillors elected proportionally as four separate wards, each electing three Councillors. All Councillors are elected for a fixed four-year term of office. A referendum held on 1 September 2015 changed the system of electing the Mayor, from annual election by the councillors in favour of direct election of the Mayor by electors for a four-year term, which took effect from the September 2017 election. The most recent election was held on 9 September 2017, and the makeup of the Council is as follows:
The current Council, elected in 2017, in order of election by ward, is:
The earliest records of human settlement date back to the early 1800s when Dharug Aborigines inhabited the region. Governor Phillip is said to be the first European to have visited the Hills in 1788. The Hills Shire started developing gradually with its new road systems and farming as more Europeans settled here. The first school started in 1840 followed by a general store and a post office. In 1902, the tram from Parramatta to Baulkham Hills was inaugurated and telephone links were established by 1907. The population rose steadily over the years along with infrastructure development of the Hills Shire.A 2015 review of local government boundaries by the NSW Government Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recommended that The Hills Shire merge with adjoining councils. The government considered two proposals. The first proposed a merger of parts of The Hills with the Hawkesbury City Council to form a new council with an area of 3,161 square kilometres (1,220 sq mi) and support a population of approximately 224,000. The second proposed a merger of parts of Parramatta, Auburn, The Hills, Hornsby, and Holroyd to form a new council with an area of 82 square kilometres (32 sq mi) and support a population of approximately 215,725. Following an independent review, on 12 May 2016 the Minister for Local Government announced that the merger of parts of The Hills Shire suburbs south of the M2 Motorway (North Rocks, Northmead and part of Baulkham Hills) with the City of Parramatta to form a revised City of Parramatta Council, with immediate effect. Other proposals impacting The Hills Shire were rejected by the Government.In June 2020, Councillor Brooke Collins made national news for controversially objecting to the Welcome to country, reportedly stating "How do you know they didn’t wipe out another race when they arrived here 70,000 years ago?".
The Hills Shire has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
Baulkham Hills, Seven Hills Road: Pearce Family Cemetery
Bella Vista, Elizabeth Macarthur Drive: Bella Vista (homestead)
Box Hill, 10 Terry Road: Box Hill House
Box Hill, Windsor Road: Box Hill Inn
Castle Hill, Gilbert Road: Third Government Farm
Castle Hill, 221 Old Northern Road: St Paul's Anglican Church, Castle Hill (former)
Cattai, Wisemans Ferry Road: Cattai Estate
Maroota South, Wisemans Ferry Road: Great Drain
Rouse Hill, The Water Lane: Hunting Lodge, Rouse Hill
Rouse Hill, Windsor Road: Royal Oak Inn, Rouse Hill
In 2020, the Hills Shire Council, whose local government area covers Darug land, caused controversy by rejecting requests to include an Acknowledgment of Country at its meetings. The Hills Shire Council is the only Sydney local council that does not include an Acknowledgment of Country at its meetings.