Australia: For Sale: New South Wales Crown Land

Last Updated: 16 June 2009
Article by Tom Nguyen

Most Read Contributor in Australia, November 2017

Key Points:
If you're buying Crown land, there are some extra matters you must consider.

Flicking through the property and business sections in today's newspapers, it is clear that there is no shortage of properties for sale, for auction, or subject to expressions of interest. While these properties may be available for purchase, I think it is fair to say that they are not being snapped up at levels seen in the last few years and gone are the days of making a quick buck from land transactions. In fact, some of the people selling are being forced to do so to raise much needed revenue due to those three words we seem to be hearing all too frequently, the global financial crisis.

The current selling of properties is not limited to private individuals and corporations but also the New South Wales Government. While the New South Wales Government's motives may differ from private individuals and corporations, one common thread they all have is that they are doing so to raise revenue.

Crown Land

Approximately half the land in New South Wales is Crown land. Some of this land is allocated to public uses such as national parks, state forests, schools, hospitals, recreation areas and areas of environmental importance.

This leaves other significant portions of Crown land that can be used for leasing for commercial or agricultural purposes, through to land development and sale. Since early settlement in New South Wales, Crown land has been put aside for public purposes and sold or leased for agriculture, grazing and settlement.

In particular areas, land is becoming increasingly scarce for homes, commerce and industry and as a result the New South Wales Government has developed and made available for purchase certain Crown land. In this way, Crown land is provided where it is needed and public revenue is generated. In the current market conditions, it appears that the New South Wales Government is keen to offload parcels of Crown land which it no longer requires for any government or community purposes.

Mini-Budget - Businesses And Crown Land Under The Hammer

The New South Wales Government's mini-budget, announced in November 2008, did not have any major surprises and the objective of reducing spending and increasing revenue was clearly evident.

The mini-budget was a response to the increased risks to the State's revenues and expenses and the downward revision to the State's credit rating outlook as a result of the global financial crises.

One of the strategies in reducing its operating expenses and increasing revenue is to sell Crown land or government businesses (which is likely to include the sale of Crown land attached to those businesses)

These include:

  • sale of power stations near Lithgow and in the Hunter Valley;
  • sale of surplus school and TAFE land and property including Seaforth TAFE and up to 140 hectares of land at Hurlstone Agricultural High School;
  • sale of EnergyAustralia, Integral Energy and Country Power; and
  • sale of the waste business WSN Environmental Solutions.

Other current Crown land commercial opportunities identified on the Department of Lands website include:

  • redevelopment of a three and a half hectare site at Anna Bay (Port Stephens) for tourism related purposes;
  • Ballina Trawler Harbour and Regatta Avenue Harbour redevelopment;
  • Batemans Bay Marina redevelopment which will include a new state of the art marina and associated onshore developments;
  • Boyds Bay marina development;
  • Commercial development of tourist facilities and services (including tourist attractions and tourist accommodation), and maritime facilities including marina/s and support services as part of the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshore Precinct;
  • the Gosford Challenge, being a major urban redesign for the Central Coast encompassing the waterfront at Gosford to north of the railway station and the area from Rumbalara Reserve to West Gosford;
  • redevelopment of the Nelson Bay Boat Harbour as part of a larger revitalisation scheme for the foreshore area;
  • Ulladulla Harbour Concept Plan which will include the redevelopment of the Crown land in the harbour and surrounds to provide enhanced facilities and attractions for locals and visitors; and
  • Wollongong Harbour and Foreshore redevelopment.

However, the sale and acquisition of Crown land can be a complicated process and this paper serves to provide guidance to a purchaser in understanding the process required to sell Crown land, and what issues a purchaser should look out for when purchasing Crown land.

Preliminary Steps

Crown land cannot be sold until a number of statutory processes are carried out, such as land assessment, the investigation of Aboriginal land claims and native title extinguishment. Therefore, before it offers land for sale, the New South Wales Government must undertake a comprehensive review of the land to make sure that it is in fact Crown land and that it can be sold.

From a purchaser's perspective, the first step would be to obtain title searches (if possible) to confirm that the land is Crown land.

Depending on what is revealed in a title search, it may then be necessary to make inquiries with the relevant branch of the Department of Lands, the Land and Property Information Office and the Native Title Tribunal to discover:

  • whether the land is reserved or dedicated for public purposes, (and if it is reserved, who manages the reserve and whether a reserve trust has been appointed). This may involve trawling through old Gazettes and plans; and
  • all registered or unregistered interests in the land.

Acquiring Crown Land

Some key points to consider when acquiring Crown land include:

Timing: the purchase may involve significant delays and would depend on the co-operation of the Minister for Lands as the Minister must be satisfied that the land has been assessed under the Crown Lands Act. The Act requires the Minister to:

  • prepare an inventory of Crown land;
  • assess the capabilities of Crown land;
  • identify suitable or preferred uses; or

the Minister for Lands may determine that it is in the public interest to sell the land without first assessing the land and the Minister has had due regard to the principles of Crown land management.

Reservations: if the land is reserved, the Minister for Lands must revoke the reservation. The Minister does not have power to sell land reserved for a public purpose, but does have the power to revoke a reservation by complying with the above conditions and publishing a notice in the Gazette and in a State or local newspaper.

Dedications: if the land is dedicated, the Minister for Lands must revoke the dedication. Revoking a dedication will involve complying with similar conditions attached to the revocation of a reserve but also Parliament must approve the revocation.

Sale Process: if the Crown land is reserved for a public purpose and is administered by a reserve trust, the reserve trust may sell the Crown land subject to the following conditions:

  • decide on the terms and conditions of the sale;
  • publish notice of the decision to sell the Crown land in a State or local newspaper, setting out the date and the terms and conditions of the proposed sale, the location of the Crown land and other particulars; and
  • apply to the Minister for Lands for consent to the sale.

Once the Crown land is able to be offered for sale, the Minister for Lands or the reserve trust (as vendor) will provide a Contract for Sale and standard conveyancing methods are used to complete the acquisition.


Returning to the mini-budget and the global financial crisis, the State Government has identified that the sale of Crown land is a viable and effective way to raise revenue provided it has been determined that that parcel of Crown land is no longer required for any government or community purpose.

This process of selling Crown land may not be as easy and straightforward as selling land that is privately owned, given the requirements that must be satisfied by the New South Wales Government under the Crown Lands Act. However, it is not everyday that State land assets come up for sale and some of that land will have unparalleled commercial development opportunities. So, for those that are happy to navigate through the process, Crown lands which were once out of reach to the private sector are now being offered for sale and you can be sure that the "For Sale" sign won't be up for too long.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions