Top 50 largest cities in Australia by population in 2013

Top 50 largest cities in Australia by population in 2013

**This blog has been updated: read the latest version of Top 50 largest cities and towns in Australia by population.

For more up to date New South Wales information, read our blog on the Top 20 fastest growing suburbs in NSW.

Previously we have looked at the size of Australia’s cities in a variety of ways. The top 33 urban areas in Australia has been one of the most popular blogs on this site, and I keep being asked to update it with the 2011 Census results. That’s not so easy, because the ABS has changed the geography and split up some of the areas into smaller centres. So I thought we could look at another way of sorting the list, which actually may make more sense to most people. This is the ABS :”Urban Centre or Locality” structure.


It seems such an easy question – what is the population of a town or city? But there are so many ways to define it. Many of the boundaries are quite arbitrary, but the urban centre/locality (UCL) way of looking at things is actually fairly intuitive. It groups together areas that are contiguously urban, or built up, to form urban centres, or smaller towns below 1,000 people, called localities. This means that the boundaries move every Census as urban areas expand, which means that over time you’re not comparing the same geographic area, as you are with the fixed boundary method. But on the plus side, it means new growth areas can be picked up, and it can differentiate areas which, while geographically separate, are generally considered part of a greater urban area. Many of the questions I got on the previous blog were about areas which didn’t feature in the list, because they are considered part of the greater urban areas of other cities – some of these can be accessed via the UCL view.

So these are all based on Census counts from 2011, not population estimates.

Most of the list of the largest urban areas in Australia is the same as that presented in last year’s blog, but the numbers may be a little lower, because many of the outlying satellite centres are considered separate by this method. For example, the Central Coast is the 9th largest urban centre in Australia, but is usually considered part of Greater Sydney (and was included with it in the previous blog.). The same can be said for Blue Mountains. In Victoria, Melton, Sunbury and Pakenham, are all satellite centres of Greater Melbourne but are separated out here, and Ellenbrook, usually considered part of Greater Perth.

Note that for those urban areas that cross state boundaries, I have put the state with the most population in the description, and combined the populations – on the ABS website, the ABS splits these up along the state borders.

For updated figures go to our blog: Top 50 largest Australian towns and cities by population, 2014

Here are the top 50 urban centres in Australia in 2013:

1 Sydney, NSW 3,908,643
2 Melbourne, Vic 3,707,529
3 Brisbane, Qld 1,874,426
4 Perth, WA 1,627,576
5 Adelaide, SA 1,103,979
6 Gold Coast – Tweed Heads, Qld 533,659
7 Canberra – Queanbeyan, ACT 391,473
8 Newcastle, NSW 308,307
9 Central Coast, NSW 297,713
10 Wollongong, NSW 245,943
11 Sunshine Coast, Qld 209,263
12 Hobart, Tas 170,977
13 Townsville, Qld 157,752
14 Geelong, Vic 143,921
15 Cairns, Qld 133,891
16 Darwin, NT 103,017
17 Toowoomba, Qld 96,568
18 Ballarat, Vic 85,936
19 Bendigo, Vic 82,795
20 Albury – Wodonga, NSW 77,230
21 Mackay, Qld 74,221
22 Launceston, Tas 74,085
23 Maitland (NSW), NSW 67,133
24 Bunbury, WA 64,384
25 Rockhampton, Qld 61,725
26 Bundaberg, Qld 49,752
27 Hervey Bay, Qld 48,678
28 Wagga Wagga, NSW 46,913
29 Melton, Vic 45,625
30 Coffs Harbour, NSW 45,580
31 Shepparton – Mooroopna, Vic 42,742
32 Port Macquarie, NSW 41,493
33 Tamworth, NSW 36,132
34 Orange, NSW 34,991
35 Mildura – Buronga, Vic 33,434
36 Sunbury, Vic 33,062
37 Pakenham, Vic 32,913
38 Dubbo, NSW 32,326
39 Gladstone, Qld 32,074
40 Geraldton, WA 31,348
41 Bathurst, NSW 31,292
42 Kalgoorlie – Boulder, WA 30,840
43 Warrnambool, Vic 29,286
44 Blue Mountains, NSW 28,770
45 Nowra – Bomaderry, NSW 27,987
46 Lismore, NSW 27,475
47 Albany, WA 26,644
48 Ellenbrook, WA 25,573
49 Mount Gambier, SA 25,200
50 Traralgon, Vic 24,590

For the rest of the list, click here to download.

Find detailed demographic information for over 500 Australian communities by visiting the .id Demographic Resource Centre.

A few interesting stats about our top 50 urban areas:

  • NSW has 16 entries in the top 50, Victoria and Queensland 11 each, WA 6, Tas and SA 2 each and NT 1 and ACT 1 each.
  • The state capital is the largest entry in each state.
  • But 5 non-capitals come in ahead of Hobart, and 8 non-capitals come in ahead of Darwin.
  • There are 5 urban areas over 1 million, a further 11 over 100,000, and the top 50 neatly cuts off at 25,000.

So what of the smaller places? The ABS defines localities down to 200 people (note that this is the built up area, not the rural surrounding population, this is why places like Taradale in Victoria didn’t make the list – most of the population lives in the rural surrounds, and the “urban” population has fallen below 200 – much to the consternation of the townspeople!

However, because localities are defined by their ENUMERATED population (those counted there on Census night), some places with less than 200 usual residents did make the list. The smallest being Baw Baw Alpine Village, with 23 people. The next smallest were Seventeen Seventy in Queensland, with 75 people, and Willows Gemfields in Queensland with 109 people.

The smallest which properly made the cut, with exactly 200 people, was a tie between Underbool (Vic), Titjikala (NT), and Cecil Plains (Qld).

For all these smaller places, we now have summary profiles available on – this provides basic Census characteristics for each of these smaller places within your LGA, and enables comparisons of the smaller towns with much larger ones and metropolitan areas. Just select “Summary profiles” in the specialist profiles section of your site.


Access the Australian Community Profile to find Census results for each Capital City, State, and Australia on topics including population, age, country of birth, languages spoken, occupations, industries, employment, disability, income, qualifications, transport and much more…

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is our resident Census expert. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Glenn is also our most prolific blogger - if you're reading this, you've just finished reading one of his blogs. Take a quick look at the front page of our blog and you'll no doubt find more of Glenn's latest work. As a client manager, Glenn travels the country giving sought-after briefings to councils and communities (these are also great opportunities for Glenn to tend to his rankings in Geolocation games such as Munzee and Geocaching).

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