Where is Western Sydney?

‘Western Sydney’ is a pretty politically and culturally charged term in Sydney, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westie_(person)

But, there is no real definition of what Western Sydney is. Seeing as it is essentially an opinon, I figured asking people is as good a way as any to define it.

After seeing this sweet post by  and , I realised I could use the  use the tools generously uploaded by Nick Martinelli here to allow people to submit their definition of Western Sydney and then combine them.

The response was pretty good, and once I had removed all the continent sized cock and balls drawings, submissions for the Sydney in Nova Scotia etc.  I had 119 definitions of Western Sydney to compare.

What was surprisingly difficult was finding a way to tally up how many definitions covered a given location. QGIS does not appear to have an integrated tool to achieve this. What I ended up doing was building an arbitrary hexagonal grid and then counting the number of the definitions that fell within each of the cells in this grid. To do that I had to build a python script using fiona and shapely, I’ll chuck the details of that code up later, it could help out anyone else who needs to count the number of polygons in another set of polygons.

The results are shown below. Each category represents the proportion of submitted definitions that agree a cell is in Western Sydney.

People seem to agree the eastern extent is somewhere between Lidcombe and Strathfield and the Western extent is somewhere between Penrith and the escarpment of the Blue Mountains. Compared to the northern and southern extent there is SIGNIFICANTLY less variation in opinion.

In general the spread of definitions to the north seems narrower than the south. The northern extent of 75% consensus area seems to follow the western train line almost exactly.

I also found it intersting that roughly equal numbers of  people consider Campbelltown and parts of Epping to both be Western Sydney.

Edit: I have updated this post, removing references to the website people entered their definitions on that I was no longer using.


2 thoughts on “Where is Western Sydney?

  1. What is the mapping software that you used? The suburbs which are captioned on the map include places I’ve never heard of (Cartwright, Bangor, Kenthurst, etc) which investigation shows are tiny – but all the major centres are missing (Parramatta, Bankstown, Blacktown, Cronulla, etc). That’s super distracting. Even when zooming in, it refuses to print Parramatta , in favor of adjacent smaller suburbs such as Westmead and Harris Park (at least I have heard of these). That really needs some improvement (I realise this part of the mashup is not your own creation).


    1. The zoom able map in the article uses carto.com. I forget which of the specific base layers I chose to use, if I remember correctly it was one of the Nokia services. I’d agree the labelling isn’t fantastic. I suspect it has to do with our naming conventions in Australia being different to the most of the northern hemisphere (ie all suburbs being named and defined, whereas neighbourhoods in the northern hemisphere are less formal) but that’s just my guess


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s