Darwin’s population in 2011 – at the top end of growth?
Population wise, the Northern Territory is Australia’s smallest State or Territory, but it is also one that has distinctive characteristics due to its demographic composition and settlement pattern. Compared to the rest of Australia, it has a younger population, and this is influenced by the high proportion of Indigenous people. Traditionally, Darwin has been viewed as a frontier town – remote from the rest of Australia, or if you were a Commonwealth public servant, it was a place you moved to so that you got an extra week’s rec leave. But in the 21st century it is a small and thriving city. In .id’s first blog about Darwin, we’ll look at some of the characteristics of the population.
Darwin – Australia’s most northerly capital
The Darwin metropolitan area (defined here as the GCCSA) comprises three LGAs – City of Darwin, Litchfield Municipality and the City of Palmerston – the first indication that it is much smaller than Sydney or Melbourne which each have over 30 LGAs! It also has unincorporated areas within its boundary. The table below shows the growth rates of these LGAs over the last ten years.
|LGA||2001-2006||2006-2011||Population – 2011|
|Growth (no.)||Growth (% per annum)||Growth (no.)||Growth (% per annum)|
Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth (Cat. no. 3218.0)
Darwin’s population reached 129,062 in 2011, which represented growth of 14,700 since 2006 at an annual average rate of 2.4%. Since 2001, more than 22,000 people have been added to the population – in other words the population has increased by 21% in the last decade. However about two-thirds of that has occurred in the 2006-2011 period – the annual average growth rate in 2006-2011 was 2.4% compared to 1.4% over the period 2001-2006. This pattern varied amongst the three LGAs – the City of Darwin grew twice as fast in 2006-2011 (1.8% per annum) compared to 2001-2006. However, Litchfield Municipality, located on the outer rim of the GCCSA, grew three times as fast in 2006-2011 compared to 2001-2006. Litchfield does have a much smaller population which tends to accentuate some of the volatility in population growth but it is typical of peri-urban areas surrounding Australian metropolitan areas. In contrast, Palmerston had steady population growth over the entire ten year period. Palmerston is a satellite city located south-east of the capital and has accommodated a significant amount of greenfield suburban growth since the 1990s.
Spatial patterns of population growth
Due to Darwin’s size, the spatial distribution of population change becomes clearer at smaller levels of geography. The new spatial unit – the SA2 – provides a useful basis for analysis in this respect and this is shown in the table below.
|Rank||SA2 Name||Population – 2011||SA2 Name||Growth (no.) 2006-2011||SA2 Name||Annual average growth (%) 2006-2011|
|1.||Humpty Doo||8,235||Darwin Ctiy||2,300||Rosebery – Bellamack||19.3|
|2.||Karana||5,258||Rosebery – Bellamack||2,298||Darwin City||12.7|
|3.||Darwin City||5,120||Lyons (NT)||1,921||Weddell||6.5|
|4.||Malak – Marrara||5,072||Humpty Doo||1,698||Palmerston – North||6.4|
|5.||Leanyer||5,012||Palmerston – North||1,163||Woolner – Bayview – Winnellie||5.3|
|6.||Howard Springs||4,561||Weddell||1,037||Humpty Doo||4.7|
|7.||Palmerston – North||4,339||Woolner – Bayview – Winnellie||655||Berrimah||4.6|
|8.||Stuart Park||4,091||Berrimah||545||Stuart Park||2.6|
|9.||Nightcliff||4,014||Stuart Park||495||Howard Springs||2.2|
|10.||Durack – Marlow Lagoon||3,938||Howard Springs||476||Durack – Marlow Lagoon||2.1|
Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth (Cat. no. 3218.0)
Note this tables excludes SA2s with 2011 populations of less than 1,000 persons.
In terms of areas that are growing rapidly, the overall pattern in the Darwin metropolitan area is similar to other major cities in Australia. There is strong growth in the CBD and in greenfield areas on the urban fringe. Darwin City, the SA2 that covers the CBD, recorded growth of 2,300 persons between 2006 and 2011, and it’s growth rate was 12.7% per annum. This is exemplified by developments such as Darwin Waterfront and other high rise apartments constructed in the CBD in recent years.
Greenfield areas that recorded strong growth were primarily located in Palmerston. Rosebery – Bellamack, on the southern fringe, recorded growth of 19.3% per annum over the period 2006-2011, and the equivalent figure for Palmerston – North (funnily enough on the northern fringe!) was 6.4%. Most SA2s in Darwin’s established suburbs recorded low to moderate growth, a reflection of their older age structure and lack of development opportunities. However the northern suburb of Lyons does have some recent greenfield development which will result in higher growth rates as the land is developed for housing.
Humpty Doo, located in Litchfield Municipality, is the largest SA2 population wise in the Darwin metropolitan area. It is essentially peri-urban in character with large residential lots, with some remnant agricultural uses (mango farms), and located within commuting distance of the Darwin CBD. It also recorded a strong growth rate of 4.7% per annum over the period 2006-2011. Strong peri-urban growth was also apparent in Weddell (6.5% per annum), located further south.
Population decline in Darwin
Though metropolitan Darwin overall is growing rapidly, there are some areas in the Cities of Darwin and Palmerston where the population is stagnant or declining. These include Ludmilla – The Narrows (-4.0% per annum between 2006 and 2011), Moulden (-1.2%) and Wanguri (-0.5%). These are typically established suburbs with maturing populations, declining average household size and lack of development opportunities. Interestingly, no SA2s in Litchfield lost population between 2006 and 2011.
How does Darwin’s growth compare to other cities?
So is Darwin at the “top end of growth”? Not quite. Darwin’s population grew about 21% over the ten year period from 2001-2011, which is a big change for a city that is smaller than places likes Newcastle and Wollongong. However even this strong growth was eclipsed by that of Perth (26%) and Brisbane (25%). Melbourne, which recorded the highest volume of growth between 2001 and 2011, came in fourth in the growth rate stakes at 18%.
Access the new profile.id sites and other population statistics for Australia, States, Capital Cities, Local Government Areas and suburbs at .id’s demographic resource centre.