The 50 largest Australian cities and towns by population in 2014

The 50 largest Australian cities and towns by population in 2014

**This blog has been updated: Read the 2018 version of Top 50 largest cities and towns in Australia by population here.

A couple of years ago, I did a blog post about Australia’s top 33 cities by population. This was a very popular blog which was a ranking of the biggest cities in Australia and so I’ve updated it here (and expanded it to the top 50 largest Australian cities) with the latest population figures from the ABS as at 2013. For more up to date population and population forecasts for NSW, read our blog on the Top 20 fastest growing suburbs in NSW. Watch this space for other states.

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So, without further ado, on to the list!

The 50 largest Australian cities and towns by population

This is based on the top 50 Significant Urban Areas in Australia at June 2013 Estimated Resident Population, and 5 year growth 2008-2013.

Rank Significant Urban Area State 2013 5 year growth 5 year % growth
1 Sydney NSW 4,373,433 326,568 8.1%
2 Melbourne Vic 4,181,021 392,675 10.4%
3 Brisbane Qld 2,143,121 215,082 11.2%
4 Perth WA 1,901,582 269,825 16.5%
5 Adelaide SA 1,263,888 71,195 6.0%
6 Gold Coast – Tweed Heads Qld/NSW 605,134 60,773 11.2%
7 Newcastle – Maitland NSW 425,895 24,459 6.1%
8 Canberra – Queanbeyan ACT/NSW 418,856 34,934 9.1%
9 Central Coast NSW 320,266 15,643 5.1%
10 Sunshine Coast Qld 292,354 26,732 10.1%
11 Wollongong NSW 286,581 14,292 5.2%
12 Hobart Tas 206,560 8,278 4.2%
13 Geelong Vic 181,853 11,117 6.5%
14 Townsville Qld 176,035 19,689 12.6%
15 Cairns Qld 145,003 14,806 11.4%
16 Darwin NT 119,597 11,900 11.0%
17 Toowoomba Qld 112,588 6,029 5.7%
18 Ballarat Vic 96,940 9,047 10.3%
19 Bendigo Vic 90,280 6,967 8.4%
20 Albury – Wodonga NSW/Vic 86,274 4,734 5.8%
21 Launceston Tas 86,188 2,139 2.5%
22 Mackay Qld 83,924 9,234 12.4%
23 Rockhampton Qld 79,298 6,208 8.5%
24 Bunbury WA 72,464 10,779 17.5%
25 Bundaberg Qld 70,359 3,513 5.3%
26 Coffs Harbour NSW 67,519 3,301 5.1%
27 Wagga Wagga NSW 54,679 1,788 3.4%
28 Melton Vic 54,483 13,093 31.6%
29 Hervey Bay Qld 51,168 4,632 10.0%
30 Mildura – Wentworth Vic/NSW 49,441 1,845 3.9%
31 Shepparton – Mooroopna Vic 48,637 3,333 7.4%
32 Gladstone – Tannum Sands Qld 46,377 5,599 13.7%
33 Port Macquarie NSW 44,180 2,684 6.5%
34 Tamworth NSW 41,304 2,641 6.8%
35 Traralgon – Morwell Vic 40,910 1,969 5.1%
36 Orange NSW 39,226 3,367 9.4%
37 Geraldton WA 38,931 3,859 11.0%
38 Bowral – Mittagong NSW 36,994 1,855 5.3%
39 Ellenbrook WA 36,207 12,778 54.5%
40 Dubbo NSW 36,089 1,870 5.5%
41 Nowra – Bomaderry NSW 34,885 2,061 6.3%
42 Bathurst NSW 34,870 2,856 8.9%
43 Busselton WA 34,241 5,921 20.9%
44 Warrnambool Vic 33,625 1,615 5.0%
45 Kalgoorlie – Boulder WA 33,484 2,796 9.1%
46 Albany WA 33,113 2,373 7.7%
47 Warragul – Drouin Vic 31,935 4,718 17.3%
48 Devonport Tas 30,431 847 2.9%
49 Lismore NSW 29,537 558 1.9%
50 Alice Springs NT 28,720 1,254 4.6%

Please note that the geographic classification of urban centres has changed since we wrote our previous blog Australia’s top 33 cities by population. Consequently the tables are not directly comparable (see more detail about geography changes below).

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

Some interesting points about this list:

  • Sydney remains Australia’s largest urban centre, but it’s now only 5% bigger than Melbourne. The exclusion of Central Coast has an impact, but Melbourne has also had some outlying centres like Melton excluded. Melbourne is growing faster and should overtake Sydney within about 25 years on current trends.
  • The fastest growing centres in this list are Ellenbrook (WA) and Melton (Vic) – which is a little misleading as these centres are really part of Greater Perth and Greater Melbourne respectively, but are separated in the new ABS list.
  • NSW has 18 centres (including cross-border ones) in the top 50 list, by far the most of any state. South Australia manages only one, Adelaide. Mount Gambier just misses out, in 51st place.
  • Despite a population only a quarter the size of South Australia, Tasmania manages 3 entries in the list, Hobart, Launceston and Devonport, due to a more dispersed population. Queensland also “punches above its weight” with 10 entries, more than Victoria with a much larger population. This is for the same reason, a dispersed population.
  • All of the top 50 centres increased in population over 5 years. The lowest growth was in Lismore, just 1.9%. In the top 100 centres, only 2 showed decline over that period, Broken Hill and Moe-Newborough.

Further reading

You might like to download our e-book Predicting the Growth Suburbs of the Future to look at where we see population growth occurring in the future.

And our National Demographic Indicators website has the population and other demographic measures for every Local Government Area in Australia.

Notes on geography

Populations are more malleable than people think, and really depend on where you draw the boundaries. For example Central Coast is no longer included as part of Sydney but has its own identity in this list. This means that Sydney’s population appears substantially lower than in the previous list, which used the Greater area and had no listing for Central Coast.

The ABS have come up with new boundaries, called “Significant Urban Areas”, so this article has used these, and ranks the centres by these new boundaries.

According to the ABS, Significant Urban Areas “represent concentrations of urban development with a population of 10,000 or more using whole Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2s). They do not necessarily represent a single Urban Centre, as they can represent a cluster of related Urban Centres with a core urban population over 10,000. They can also include related peri-urban and satellite development and the area into which the urban development is likely to expand.”

What this means is that they represent cities and towns as most people understand them, but in some cases, areas may be subsumed within a larger Significant Urban Area (eg. a contiguous suburb of a major city would generally be included as part of that city). Large satellite centres which are part of the Greater Capital City area, but geographically separated, are now separately identified in many cases (hence Central Coast being separated from Sydney.

So the important thing to remember is that this represents a particular way of drawing boundaries to rank areas but it may not be the only one. If your area isn’t listed, it’s likely included as part of another major centre, due to geographic proximity.

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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