The altitude of the ranges is 220-375 m (722-1230 ft).
The explorer and surveyor Thomas Mitchell was the first European recorded to have travelled through the district on his 1836 journey of exploration. The ranges reminded him of the Pyrenees in Europe where he had served as an army officer, hence the name he gave them. He found the area more temperate in climate and better watered than inland New South Wales, and he encouraged settlers to take up land in the region he described as "Australia Felix".
Wines were first planted in the region in 1848. In recent years it is recognised as a significant producer of full-bodied red wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grape varieties.