A rich &
diverse history

Western Sydney has a diverse cultural community and a rich history. It is one of the most diverse regions in New South Wales and the fourth largest economy in the nation, with an economic output of $150 billion in 2020*.  At the beating heart of Western Sydney is Penrith, and Western Sydney Lakes has long been a place where people in the region have gathered, celebrated milestones and come together as a community.

For thousands of years, the Nepean River was an important place for the Darug people. It was later used as a European settlement, and in more modern times for agriculture and quarrying, as a venue for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, a community meeting space and a sporting venue for rowing, kayaking and regattas.

As we embrace a new stage in the life cycle of Western Sydney Lakes, we reflect and pay tribute to its rich history.

Pre 1800s: Aboriginal Custodianship

For thousands of years

The local custodians of the land, the Darug people, used the Nepean River as a meeting place, for food, making tools and cultural burning.

Early 1800s: European Settlement

Land grants in Castlereagh were configured to take advantage of river frontage and alluvial soils.

Late 1800s through to the 1900s:
Agriculture and Quarrying

The lakes transformed as a place of agricultural production that supplied the growing colony, as well as seeing significant conflict between the traditional owners and European settlers.

Agriculture thrived but landowners increasingly exploited the river gravel deposits to build a growing city and the dam that supplies its fresh water. The quarry supported Sydney’s housing and infrastructure projects for generations, from the late 1800s to 2015.

1980s: Penrith Lakes Development Corporation formed, signs deed with NSW Government

The private mining consortium, Penrith Lakes Development Corporation was formed, and signed a deed with the NSW Government to bring quarrying on the site to an end, and return it as a major parkland and lake system, with future urban areas.

1990s through to Early 2000s: Sydney International Regatta Centre built in preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympics

The construction of the Regatta Centre was the first stage of the site being returned as a parkland and lake system.

Penrith Lakes becomes an internationally renowned venue for rowing, kayaking and regatta events. Penrith Lakes was also included in a State Environmental Planning Policy to facilitate the rehabilitation of the site.

This is the start of almost two decades of proposals being delivered to rezone parts of the Penrith Lakes Scheme

2015 to 2017: Creation of regional recreation lake system & Future Urban Areas Unzoned

Mining is discontinued and work begins to rehabilitate the site through the creation of a regional recreational lake system. The draft Penrith Lakes Parkland Vision Plan is also finalised and adopted showing future urban area and the land is unzoned.

Previously designated as future urban area, the site was given an unzoned designation in the State Environmental Planning Policy.

2018 to 2022: A new vision for the future of the lakes is unveiled

A new vision to transform Penrith Lakes into Western Sydney Lakes is unveiled, delivering a plan for the future that sees it become a major waterfront destination in Western Sydney that will deliver new opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy recreational and water based activities.

Penrith Beach

Opening Tuesday, 19th Dec 2023


We're so excited to open Penrith Beach, where people of all ages and backgrounds can safely enjoy the water for free. If you have any questions please refer to our questions answered section below, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Note: You must pre-book your FREE parking pass in advance.

For Updates and News:

We acknowledge the traditional custodians, the Darug Peoples, of the land on which Western Sydney Lakes is located.

We respect their enduring cultural and spiritual connection to this special place, most notably characterised by the Nepean waterways and the Blue Mountains escarpment. We will work in a respectful manner with Aboriginal people in Caring for Country and aim to celebrate Aboriginal history, culture, customs and beliefs.