Parkes is a modern town of 11,000 with a shire population of approximately 15,000 persons which includes the vibrant smaller towns of Peak Hill, Trundle, Tullamore and Bogan Gate. The resident population has remained relatively stable in recent years with projections for an increase over the next 25 years.
Parkes has the relaxed and friendly atmosphere expected of a country town with an extensive range of services and facilities. The town boasts a strong community spirit with high participation in sporting, recreational and community activities.
The housing market in Parkes has recorded double digit growth in recent years though remains a very affordable place to live. Houses in Parkes generally average around $200,000 providing affordable housing not available in capital cities.
The Parkes economy is quite diverse in comparison to other regional areas. While most regional areas have a heavy reliance on either agriculture or mining, Parkes is strong in several sectors including the following:
Mining represents one of the major cornerstones of the Parkes economy with the Northparkes Mine located 27 kilometres north-west of Parkes. Open pit and innovative block caving techniques are used to access the considerable copper and gold reserves. The Northparkes Mine is a major contributor to the Parkes economy. The mine has experienced significant growth with employment up from 400 in recent years with the majority of the workforce living in the local region
Northparkes has been in operation since 1993. Further expansions to the mining operations have also been planned which will result in investment of over $250 million. Recently, Northparkes mines announced a $90m investment into a pre-feasibility study into expansion options. This has the potential to expand the Mine's operations through multiple undergroud block cave mines and increase the current life of the mine past 2024. This will ensure that the mine continues to be a considerable contributor to the local economy
The agriculture sector in Parkes is primarily comprised of sheep grazing and the production of grain crops such as wheat and barley. Recent developments in sustainable farming techniques have positioned Parkes at the forefront of innovation in the sector.
Parkes has a thriving Tourism industry with numerous activities and a large number of passing visitors along the Newell Highway. The primary attractions are The Dish, which attracts over 130,000 visitors each year, and major annual events including the Elvis Festival, Tullamore Irish Festival, Trundle Bush Tucker Day and the Peak Hill Spit and Spud as well as major sporting fixtures, car rallies and conventions. Overall, the tourism industry generates over $40 million to the Parkes economy.
The retail sector in Parkes is particularly strong with a flourishing CBD and other shopping precincts. Major retailers located within Parkes include Woolworths, Coles, Target, Big W and Harvey Norman with a new Aldi store that has DA approval. In addition to the growing retail sector in Parkes, new government service offices and facilities are currently being constructed and represents Parkes progression towards a thriving commercial centre.
Education & Training
A range of tertiary centres provides Parkes with a highly skilled workforce and many learning opportunities. Several campuses of Charles Sturt University are easily accessible from Parkes and offer a large range of university courses across most major disciplines. The Parkes Campus of the NSW Western Institute of TAFE offers a range of certificate level courses in transport & logistics, access and general education, business, computing, hospitality, mining and welding. Other education and training institutions include:
- Central Western Regional evening college;
- College for Seniors; and
- Adult Education Centre.
The Parkes school system is recognised through its excellence in education. Several leading public and independent schools are located in Parkes offering high quality learning in modern, well-equipped facilities. Schools in the region include:
- Bogan Gate Public;
- Parkes Christian School;
- Parkes East Public;
- Holy Family;
- Middleton Public;
- Parkes High;
- Parkes Public;
- Peak Hill Central;
- Peak Hill St Josephs;
- Trundle St Patricks;
- Trundle Central; and
- Tullamore Central.
Parkes has well developed, quality health facilities including hospitals and community health services. The Parkes District Hospital is the major hospital in the region and offers a variety of services including surgery, obstetrics, aged care, rehabilitation, palliative, paramedical and community health. Further development is planned for the Parkes Hospital and Health Service expected to be completed by 2010-11 to provide the community with an improved health system.
Construction of the $110m Parkes Garden Estate Retirement Facility is imminent.
There is an extensive range of childcare facilities located in Parkes to accommodate for a future increase in population. These include:
- Cheeky Cherubs Child Care Centre;
- Little Learners Early intervention project;
- Parkes Family Day Care;
- Parkes Early Childhood Centre;
- ABC Learning Centre;
- Peak Hill Preschool;
- Trundle multipurpose child care centre; and
- Tullamore preschool and child care centre.
Sport is a major component of the Parkes community and this is reflected by numerous top-class sport and recreation facilities. These include:
- Parkes Golf Course;
- Olympic swimming pool;
- Pioneer Oval - League and Union;
- Northparkes Oval - AFL;
- Harrison Park - Soccer;
- Cricket fields;
- Parkes Tennis Complex;
- Squash courts;
- Synthetic hockey field;
- Athletics field;
- Pistol range; and
- Harness racing.