The 50 largest cities in Australia
In this 2020 update of the most popular series of blogs on our website, Glenn goes through the largest urban centres in Australia and provides a population update to June 2019.
Perennially among the most popular blogs at .id are simple population counts. Each year we get an update on where populations are moving, which areas are growing and which are declining. The most popular of all has proved to be the “Top 50 cities” blogs. And here is the June 2019 update of this. Note that Covid-19 is expected to have large impacts on future population growth, predominantly due to subdued overseas migration. These figures of course pre-date this. The populations should be pretty good estimates, but the growth rates in the next couple of years are likely to be lower.
Australia’s Top 50 Cities, June 30th, 2019 (Source: ABS 3218.0, Regional Population Growth, 2018-19)
|2019 pop.||5 year change||1 year change|
|Rank||Significant Urban Area||no.||No.||%||No.||%|
|6||Gold Coast – Tweed Heads||693,671||74,744||12.1%||14,863||2.2%|
|7||Newcastle – Maitland||491,474||24,023||5.1%||5,298||1.1%|
|8||Canberra – Queanbeyan||462,136||36,246||8.5%||5,201||1.1%|
|20||Albury – Wodonga||94,837||6,855||7.8%||1,296||1.4%|
|30||Mildura – Wentworth||52,176||1,980||3.9%||280||0.5%|
|31||Shepparton – Mooroopna||52,104||2,472||5.0%||471||0.9%|
|33||Gladstone – Tannum Sands||45,631||216||0.5%||516||1.1%|
|35||Traralgon – Morwell||42,249||1,250||3.0%||266||0.6%|
|37||Bowral – Mittagong||40,411||3,045||8.1%||559||1.4%|
|39||Warragul – Drouin||39,217||6,012||18.1%||1,292||3.4%|
|41||Nowra – Bomaderry||37,838||2,162||6.1%||463||1.2%|
|48||Kalgoorlie – Boulder||29,326||-2,906||-9.0%||-514||-1.7%|
You got through the list!
A few things to point out:
- As always, this list is based on “Significant Urban Areas”, which is based on an aggregate of SA2s, which contain the continuous urban extent of a city without major gaps. This differs from “Greater Capital Cities” which are used as benchmarks in most of the .id sites, and at the ABS. The latter are defined as broader labour market regions and extend further into rural districts within commuting distance of the capitals.
- For this reason, Sydney, though it still (just) tops the list, is only about 20,000 larger than Melbourne (#2). This definition of Sydney EXCLUDES the Central Coast (#10 on this list), while the Greater Capital City region INCLUDES it. There are outlying areas excluded from Melbourne as well, such as Melton (#26), but these are smaller. So, by this definition, Melbourne could overtake Sydney as Australia’s largest city by next year!
- Both Sydney and Melbourne are likely to have their population growth significantly affected by the current border closures due to Covid-19, however, so this may have to wait a little longer. Both cities gain a large amount of population growth from overseas migration, which is currently non-existent.
- Some of the definitions generally are a little odd. Some nearby towns have been grouped together, while others are excluded. For instance, Traralgon and Morwell in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley are considered one Significant Urban Area, but nearby Moe is separate (#76). But these have been consistent for about 10 years now.
- If you can’t see your place on this list, it’s either outside the top 50, or part of a larger urban area. Eg. the most common question about these lists in the past has been “What about Logan/Ipswich/Redland?”. All those places are included as a part of the contiguous urban area of Brisbane (#3). I’m tipping the Gold Coast to become part of Brisbane by this definition within a few years as well – there is already very little gap there. Or maybe Brisbane will become part of the Gold Coast…
- Only 4 of the 50 largest urban centres have had population declines in the last year. 46 have had growth. Declining areas are Darwin, Geraldton, Lismore and Kalgoorlie.
- New South Wales has the greatest number of cities in the list, with 18 all or partly inside NSW (this includes ones like Gold Coast-Tweed and Mildura-Wentworth, where the major part is outside NSW.
- There are no changes in the composition of the top 50 – the same cities are in there as two years before, and only those minor changes to the order as above. Burnie-Wynyard, Tasmania just misses out at #51.
- The top 10 is unchanged in composition, but Sunshine Coast and Central Coast have swapped places, with Sunshine Coast moving up to #9 and dropping Central Coast to #10.
- All other changes in rankings are in the bottom half of the list – Melton (26) overtaking Bundaberg (27), Geraldton has fallen 4 places to #43, overtaken by Dubbo (40), Warragul-Drouin (39) and Nowra (41). Kalgoorlie-Boulder slips behind Devonport and Mount Gambier to #46.
These new Estimated Resident Populations are now represented on profile.id, for Local Government Areas and suburbs/towns. Make sure you’re using the “Population estimates” rather than the Census figures if you need to quote an up-to-date population number. We can also work with you in strategic planning to help understand the impacts of current population trends on your current policies, particularly around youth, ageing, multicultural and population engagement strategies. See our demographic consulting page for more details.