Three towns, three stories – the diverse demography of regional Australia

Three towns, three stories – the diverse demography of regional Australia

Andrew Hedge 30 May, 2019

In this piece, we give you a sneak preview of a presentation that Glenn is giving today that shows not all regional towns have the same demographic story.

We sometimes hear the story that rural and regional towns are in decline – that their populations are ageing as they lose their youth to metropolitan centres of work and play. And while that narrative is true for some regional towns, in this piece, Glenn looks at three towns in rural and regional Victoria, to show how the demographic story varies from place to place.

For our readers outside Victoria, you can use our community profiles for the council or authority in your area to apply these same principles to understand the demographic story of any place (age structures, housing, income and migration trends).

Glenn is presenting today at the Municipal Association of Victoria’s Rural and Regional planning conference (@VicCouncils #RRPC19). His presentation provides a population profile for three very different rural and regional towns – Wonthaggi, Casterton and Wodonga.

We thought we would experiment with telling the stories of these three towns side-by-side. It may be tricky to read in some browsers (click the charts to expand), but hopefully, you can see the diversity in the stories of these places. That’s the point of this piece – that our regional and rural towns aren’t all tracking the same demographically, and understanding the local story is, as always, critical.

If you would like to see the full presentation, head to Glenn’s expert profile page here and take a look under the Conference papers section.

Town Wonthaggi Casterton Wodonga
Distance from Melbourne 130km 370km 300km
LGA/Major Centre Bass Coast Shire Glenelg Shire City of Wodonga
Local profile Growing centre of tourism area. Adding ~100-200 people per annum.

Wonthaggi is the service town, not the tourism centre. It is also attracting young families re-settling from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and some retirees.
Typical of an older agricultural town, which has lost a lot of population and is now quite elderly.

Challenge for local government in maintaining services to an older population.

Population is probably close to minimum but still some ageing to come.
Growing between 1.5-2% p.a. A young population (median age 36), major industries of Defence, Manufacturing, Health Care. Substantial new housing – families attracted for work, and much more affordable housing than Melbourne or Sydney. Good transport connections to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.
Changing age structure 1






Changes in households and housing tenure 4-1 (1)






Change in equivalised household income quartiles 7-1-640x381






A spatial view of migration in and out of these towns

We couldn’t do justice to these migration maps in a table, so here are the migration patterns for..

Migration in and out of the Bass Coast LGA


Bass Coast Shire attracts families and retirees from the eastern and southern suburbs of Melbourne, while losing young people to inner Melbourne (like most of regional Vic) and families to the growth areas in the west of the City.

Migration in and out of Glenelg Shire


Glenelg Shire is a stark example of a remote area that is losing young people to major centres. As you can see in the above migration map, the loss is not so much to metropolitan areas, but to larger regional centres – in this case, to Warrnambool, Ballarat and Geelong.

Migration in and out of WodongaWodonga-migration-532x400

Wodonga is gaining population from surrounding rural areas and smaller towns (sponge city), from Albury, and parts of Melbourne and Sydney. It loses population to inner Melbourne and Geelong while gaining young people but also a lot of retirees.

Find these migration maps for your area

You can find these migration maps for all municipalities that subscribe to our community profiles. Open the full directory of local area profiles here, choose the area you’re interested in and navigate to the Migration by age and location page under the Migration profile menu.

See the full presentation

In his full presentation, Glenn gives an overview of ‘regional Victoria’ using our public Australia profile. He also looks at .id’s population forecasts for these three towns, to see what the most likely future population and housing scenario is for these towns.

If you’re interested in that story, you can find this and other recent presentations on Glenn’s expert profile page.

How was this format?

How did you find this format? Were you able to follow the story of these places? Would you like us to share more of these presentations from our experts? Let us know in the comments!

Andrew Hedge

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