The 50 largest cities in Australia | 2021 update

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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8 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Very interesting Glenn. A few years ago there were a lot of predictions that Perth would overtake Brisbane – not sure if that was the significant urban area or greater metro populations. I’d be interested in your view on whether this is still the case, because based on these figures and growth it doesn’t look likely to me. If anything I think the gap is widening. What do you think? I think the other takeout for me is Gold Coast topping 700,000 people. This is really significant I think, along with the Sunshine Coast being about 350,000. If you look at the population within 100km of the Brisbane GPO you’re looing at 3.5 million.

    • Thanks for the comment Brian. You’re right – Brisbane has the large South East Queensland agglomeration, while Perth is just Perth pretty much (Mandurah has joined in but it’s not huge). As with all these things it depends where you draw the boundaries. It’s also possible to make a case that Greater Sydney engulfs Newcastle and Wollongong – with a couple of breaks for national parks it’s pretty much urban land use all the way from Raymond Terrace in the north to Kiama in the south. Brisbane is similarly joined to the Gold Coast now, not quite to the Sunshine Coast, but South East Queensland has very different growth characteristics to the rest of Qld. I can’t see Perth overtaking it any time soon.

  2. Richard says:

    How long until the Gold Coast overtakes Adelaide?I am thinking around 20 years.

    • Good question! I think it will be much longer than that, if ever. Something would have to change significantly with the growth rates over a sustained period. Yes, the rate of growth in Gold Coast is significantly more – but the absolute amount of growth at about 15k p.a. is almost identical. While that keeps happening, Gold Coast can’t “catch-up” to Adelaide. If you assume the growth rate is fixed, yes it will eventually overtake Adelaide. But Gold Coast’s growth has been consistent in number, but declining in percentage for some time, simply because the population is increasing. So I can’t see it happening soon, and if it does, it will be considerably more than 20 years. While Queensland is benefiting from interstate migration at the moment, SA has also stemmed the losses of migrants interstate and is recording interstate migration gains for the first time in decades.

  3. Dinesh Singh says:

    Although ABS has 2-3 ways of defining the population of cities, how does the federal or more importantly the state government define its cities boundaries for planning. Would I be correct in assuming that –

    1. Capital Cities = based on the LGAs within the GCCSA ; regardless of which area are within its urban built-up.
    2. Regional Cities (Geelong, Central Coast, etc) = based on SUA boundaries or UCL where not part of a SUA.
    3. Newcastle = SA4 regions of Hunter Valley exc Newcastle and Newcastle

    By this logic the suburbs of Melbourne are pretty much part of Melbourne for example? But the rural towns of Greater Geelong won’t be considered to be part of Geelong (the “city”) ?
    Is this pretty much how the common thinking of what makes up the cities ?

  4. Michael says:

    So when you mean Wollongong City you also include Shellharbour council / Kiama council so shouldn’t you use the collective region term would be Illawarra? I lice in Shellharbour and feel left out by big brother d Gong

    • Thanks for the comment Michael. The Wollongong Significant Urban Area is not an LGA based definition. It includes the Wollongong City Council area, most of the Shellharbour LGA and the urban part of Kiama, as you say. None of these are LGA-based definitions. Eg. The definition of Sydney used here includes all or part of about 30 LGAs. The collective term for the region surrounding Wollongong is the Illawarra, but SUAs use contiguous urban areas as a definition and in this definition Shellharbour and Kiama are part of the Wollongong urban area. In the same way as Camden is part of the Sydney urban area, Ipswich is part of Brisbane etc.

  5. Brad says:

    Hi Glenn. Here in Mount Gambier we are seeing massive growth lately, probably wont show up nationally until the next round of figures but the joint is definately rockin’. Thinking we might be knocking on Position 50 within a year or 2.

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