The 50 largest cities and towns in Australia | Pandemic edition

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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10 Responses

  1. jason says:

    Melbourne didn’t overtake Sydney last year. It’s population ID using a certain set of stats to promote their own view. ABS uses shows that Melbourne is still approx 1//4 million behind Sydney. No matter how much you will it guys, it doesn’t make it so.

    • Thanks for the comment Jason. There is nothing political, no agenda here. Melbourne did overtake Sydney’s population on the basis of one geographic measure – as explained in the article. Only on the basis of “Significant Urban Area” – which measures the contiguous built-up extent of the city using (admittedly relatively coarse) SA2 units, and therefore excludes Central Coast from Sydney’s population, which is across the Hawkesbury and discontinuous. By the Greater Capital City definition, which is defined by labour markets and includes Central Coast – Sydney remained larger. And as stated here, for 2021 preliminary results, Melbourne lost population and fell back into 2nd place even on the SUA definition. As with many of these things there is no agenda – but defining the population of a city is not an exact science – as we need an arbitrary measure of where it starts and ends. Australian cities are generally not defined by “city limits” or other administrative boundaries but by empirical measures like urban spread and labour market travel to work. But you can argue the case for many different geographic definitions.

  2. tim1 says:

    what lgas are included in newcastle newcastle is actually closer to 700k

    • Thanks Tim – this is a “Significant Urban Area” definition – which includes largely contiguous urban areas only. For Newcastle this is the bulk of the population in the LGAs of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland, with the town of Cessnock also included. This link to ABS Quickstats shows the area extent of it – The whole Hunter Valley region doesn’t quite reach 700k – at the moment the population estimate is 672,000 and that includes all of Port Stephens, Singleton, Musswellbrook etc. which are not part of the Newcastle urban area.

  3. Lindsay Reid says:

    Melbourne has Melton knocking at the door.

  4. Anthony Kent says:

    Hi Glen. Thanks for this interesting material! You mention Updated population data is released every year by the ABS….beyond the actual Census, obviously? Curious what is their method for getting the information every year?

    • Hi Anthony, – yes it is released ever year. It takes into account births and deaths registered, and estimates of migration in and our of an area, which has multiple sources, like overseas settlement arrivals and medicare change of address records for local migration. The further you get from a Census, the less reliable these figures are, and potentially compound errors each year, so that’s one reason we need a Census to rebase the population estimates every 5 years.

  5. Todd Battes says:

    Probably too late for this comment
    But since when was Port Macquarie in VIC??!!

  6. Tereza Tomas says:

    Hi Glenn, great read! Would be very interested in the updated figures and insights.

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