Although less than 20% of the catchments area is private property, there are approximately 1800 rural properties in the area. This land produces a diverse range of products ranging from vegetable crops and sub-tropical fruit in the higher rainfall zones to dryland crops such as canola and barley in the upper catchment (dryer) zone. The diverse natural environment attracts many visitors to the area throughout the year.
At the time of the 2011 consensus, 54.0% of respondents were employed full time, 33.5% were employed part-time and 4.4% were unemployed.
In 2011, natural-resource based industries – Agriculture, forestry and fishing – still underpin the economy of the subregion (with Agriculture alone accounting for 596 people) (ABS 2011). Many of the natural resource-based jobs are in small business, particularly in the agricultural sector, which is mainly family farms. The majority of the retail, constructions, transports and accommodation sectors are also small businesses. Mining and mineral processing are not significant in the economy of the Warren region.
In the 2011 census, 22.6% of the population (15 years and over) undertook some form of voluntary work through an organisation or group in the last 12 months – a much higher rate that of Western Australian average (16.9%) and Australia (17.8%).
In addition, 39.5% of the population either cared for children or provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability in the two weeks prior to the census- again, also at a rate slightly higher than W.A. and Australia. These figures are strongly indicative of a strong sense of commitment to the community (Shire of Manjimup, 2012).
Agriculture and horticulture
Farm sizes are generally smaller than in the drier areas of the State. In 2001, there were some 1800 farm properties in the Warren catchment and 500 farm businesses. This indicates a large number of small lifestyle blocks. Properties under 20 ha (of which there were approximately 700 in 2001) are generally considered by AGWEST to be too small for viable farming.
The Shire of Manjimup, which covers the majority of the Warren catchment area, is one of the largest horticultural producers in Western Australia, and is often referred to as the “Food Bowl of WA”. In 2010-11, Total Agricultural Production equaled $127.6m for the Shire of Manjimup which was an increase of 17% from 2006 (ABS, 2011).
High rainfall and run-off enables storage of large volumes of good quality water in gully dams for the irrigation of horticultural crops grown in the areas to the west and south of Manjimup centre.
Livestock grazing, mainly of cattle for meat or dairy production, is important on land not used for horticulture.
Fruit and vegetables accounted for 72% of agricultural production in 2010-11 (ABS, 2011). Potatoes have been the most important crop; cauliflower the second. Other vegetables grown include broccoli, Chinese cabbage, onions and sweet corn and a range of other vegetables. Apples was the major fruit crop in 2001. There was a period of rapid increase in the area planted to vineyards during the period of 1992-99. In 2000, there were four wineries operating in the area. Other fruits of rising importance area plums, cherries and avocados (SWCC 2001).
Meat, milk, nurseries and cut flowers and grapes are the other agricultural industries in the Warren catchment with pasture and nurseries accounting for almost 14% and livestock almost 26.5% of total agricultural production in 2010-11.
Despite the volatility experienced in recent times due to the restructuring of the timber industry in the South West Region, it is believed that timber will continue to play a critical role in the Shire of Manjimup’s economy. Naturally, there will be a transition over time from natural forest to plantation timber, however Manjimup continues to be the centre of the timber industry of the South West, and log production alone (excluding wood-chipping and other products) in the South West Region generated $70 million in 2010-11 (with softwood exceeding hardwood by over 20%). The Shire has a competitive advantage in this sector due to an existing supply chain, existing local workforce and a growing demand for wood products across Western Australia (Shire of Manjimup, 2012)
The Warren catchment has been well placed to capitalise on the fast growing tourism industry in Western Australia. It is only a 3 to 4 hour drive from Perth and the developing wine industry in conjunction with forest and coastal scenery attract people to the area. Nature-based tourism is another attraction dependent on the large areas of unspoilt natural environment.
There has been an increase in investment in farm stay and bed and breakfast accommodation for tourists and in establishments such as resorts, hotels, motels and budget or group accommodation in the region over the last 20 years. AEC reports that Manjimup received almost 300,000 visitors in the year ending September 2011, driven by day trips and domestic overnight visits. Tourism is re-emerging as a key industry for the Shire. Visitors come to Manjimup predominantly for holiday or leisure activities, with only a small proportion of visitors coming to the region for business purposes
In 2011, there was 9% of the labour force employed in Accommodation and food services.
- ABS 2011 Community Profile Statistics. Accessed online: http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/communityprofile
- WAPC 2012 Western Australia Tomorrow Population Report No. 7, 2006 to 2026
- WAPC 2014 Draft South West Regional Planning and Infrastructure Framework. Access online: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/dop_pub_pdf/South_West_RPIF.pdf
- SWCC 2002 South West Regional Strategy for Natural Resource Management, South West Catchments Council. Bunbury W.A.
- Shire of Manjimup 2012 Shire of Manjimup 2012-2022 Strategic Community Plan. Accessed online: http://www.manjimup.wa.gov.au/library/file/Shire/Key%20Documents/Integrated%20Planning%20Framework/Strategic%20Community%20Plan%20-%20Final.pdf