Crown Lands

Crown lands explained

Crown land is land which is managed by the NSW Government in the public interest.

Types of Crown land

Crown land is land which is managed by the NSW Government in the public interest and plays a central role in a changing and thriving NSW, by helping to create and support prosperous and resilient communities. It is essential to community life and wellbeing to provide public open space and green space, particularly in built-up metropolitan areas. In metropolitan centres, the revitalisation of urban areas and improvement and expansion of accessible, green and open, public space is more important than ever.

Reserves


Crown reserves are land set aside on behalf of the community for a wide range of public purposes, including environmental and heritage protection, recreation and sport, open space, community halls, special events and government services.

'Reserved' versus 'dedicated' land

Where Crown land is set aside for a public purpose, it can be either ‘reserved’ or ‘dedicated’, which makes it available only for a use that will deliver public benefit or good.

The government order or notification (published in the NSW Government Gazette) of the reservation or dedication of Crown land sets out the purposes for which that reserve may be used.
There is little difference between reservations and dedications when managing, visiting and using the land, and they are generally grouped under the name ‘Crown reserves’.

Crown land that has been dedicated for a purpose is a more enduring form of reserve. Some of our most valuable public land in NSW, such as Hyde Park in Sydney, is dedicated. Dedication can only be removed with the agreement of both Houses of the Parliament of New South Wales.

Regardless of whether land is reserved or dedicated, the Community Engagement Strategy ensures that the community can have their say before the minister responsible for Crown land makes a decision to remove a reservation or dedication from Crown land.

The Reserve manager website provides Crown land managers with guidance materials, templates and other resources to support their role in managing Crown reserves.

Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW

 

Over 240 cemetery and crematorium operators provide interment services across 1,400 facilities in NSW. While crematoria are mainly operated privately, many of our cemeteries are on Crown land.

There are five large Crown cemetery operators operating in Greater Metropolitan Sydney, accounting for most burials in Sydney. Across the rest of NSW, cemeteries on Crown land are generally operated by local councils.

Crown cemetery operators are appointed and regulated under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 and the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013. Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW is the lead agency that supports and regulates the internment industry.

Commons


Commons allow local residents to use land in common, generally for grazing and other agricultural purposes. When the common is set aside in a government order or notification, these set out who is eligible to use the land and the type of use permitted.

Commons differ from Crown reserves and other public land in that they were created for the use of local residents.

Waterways, estuaries and beaches

 

We manage a variety of waterways across NSW for recreational uses, determining water boundaries and dams.

Land associated with tidal and non-tidal waterways, including oceans, rivers and lakes is Crown land—this means most river, creek and lake beds, estuaries and beaches. However, many man-made lakes and canals are not Crown land.

Western lands

 

The Western Division covers more than 32 million hectares: almost half of NSW. The eastern boundary of the division runs from Mungindi on the Queensland border to the Murray River near Balranald. The majority of this area is Crown land, and is primarily used for grazing or agriculture. There are also leases held for residence or business.

Working closely with the community and local government, the department administers leases, carries out sustainable land management activities and programs, and maximises opportunities for land diversification and regional development.

Crown roads

Crown or ‘paper’ roads were established during the settlement of NSW and are part of the state’s public road network.

Generally, Crown public roads provide access to freehold and leasehold land where little or no subdivision has occurred since the original Crown subdivision of NSW in the early nineteenth century.

Most Crown roads are found in rural areas and many have never been constructed, so they are called ‘paper roads’.
They are managed under the Roads Act 1993.

National parks and state forests

National Parks and State forests are also public land, but are administered under different legislation to the main types of Crown land.

National Parks are administered under the National Parks Act 1974, while State forests fall under the Forestry Act 2012.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service manages national parks, and the state-owned Forestry Corporation manages State forests.

Schools of arts

Schools of arts, mechanics’ institutes and literary institutes are part of a statewide network of public halls that are managed by volunteers, not-for-profit organisations, and local councils, to service community needs.

Commencement of the Crown Land Management Act 2016 on 1 July 2018 repealed the Trustees of Schools of Arts Enabling Act 1902. This has changed the management options for institutions.

Institutions on public land:

  • are Crown land reserved for the purposes of an institution, for community use, or for any other similar purpose
  • allow for a continued role for trustees to manage the land in much the same way as they currently do, either as statutory land managers or as Crown land managers.

Institutions on private land:

  • will be governed by the Trustees Act 1925
  • allow for a number of management options, including:
    • continuing with current management
    • transferring to Crown land
    • forming an agreement with the local council to manage the land under the Local Government Act 1993.

The NSW Department of Industry is supporting the institutions with information on the changes and the options available.

More information

What can I do on Crown land?

In general, low impact recreational activities are permitted on Crown land without any authorisation. Recreational activities such as bushwalking, hiking and outdoor sporting activities that don’t involve a vehicle and do not interfere with native fauna or flora are considered low impact.

People riding bikes on the bike track, Dungog Common NSW

How does Crown land affect me

How to identify who manages public land next to my property?

The agency who manages public land next to your property may have put up a sign at the entrance to the land with their contact details.

To ensure Crown land is used correctly, we are responsible for issuing licences, lease and permits.

Activities that potentially interfere with the public’s use of Crown land, disturbs the natural environment or any private use of Crown land  will require written consent or a permit.

Find out more about Crown land your neighbour (PDF, 135 KB)

To graze livestock on Crown land, you will need a grazing licence.

Apply for a grazing licence

Find out more about Travelling stock reserves

Related information