The top 50 largest cities and towns in Australia, 2022 edition
Demographer Glenn Capuano provides the latest update to the top 50 cities and towns in Australia.
It’s time for the latest version of our most popular and enduring blog series of all time. Sometimes the simplest are the best. This is the June 2022 population update of the “Top 50 cities and towns in Australia”. This list shows the largest 50 urban areas in Australia by the Significant Urban Area measure. This is one of a few measures that use the urban extent (built up area) of a city to define its boundaries. While some outlying rural areas are included, they must be within 5km of a built up area to qualify.
As recently made quite a stir, Melbourne now tops Sydney on this list. This is due to a revision to the boundaries, which also sees the previously separate urban area of Melton drop off the list, as it’s now considered a part of Melbourne. Here is the top 50 for June 2022.
|Rank||Urban Area and state||June 2022 population||5 year change %||1 year change %|
|6||Gold Coast – Tweed Heads Qld-NSW||716,186||9.1%||2.0%|
|7||Newcastle – Maitland NSW||517,811||7.4%||1.6%|
|8||Canberra – Queanbeyan ACT-NSW||493,435||8.7%||0.6%|
|9||Sunshine Coast Qld||397,205||13.2%||2.5%|
|10||Central Coast NSW||345,481||2.7%||0.2%|
|20||Albury – Wodonga NSW-Vic||98,607||6.8%||1.0%|
|26||Coffs Harbour NSW||75,016||5.5%||1.1%|
|27||Hervey Bay Qld||59,678||10.3%||2.5%|
|28||Wagga Wagga NSW||57,368||2.1%||0.2%|
|29||Shepparton – Mooroopna Vic||54,280||5.4%||0.6%|
|30||Mildura – Buronga Vic-NSW||53,948||4.1%||0.5%|
|31||Port Macquarie NSW||51,154||8.6%||2.1%|
|35||Warragul – Drouin Vic||44,265||20.1%||3.3%|
|36||Traralgon – Morwell Vic||43,462||4.1%||0.8%|
|39||Bowral – Mittagong||41,699||6.3%||0.7%|
|42||Nowra – Bomaderry NSW||39,418||6.1%||1.2%|
|47||Kalgoorlie – Boulder WA||30,443||-1.0%||0.1%|
|48||Mount Gambier SA||30,441||2.9%||0.5%|
|49||Victor Harbor – Goolwa SA||29,428||11.1%||2.0%|
|50||Alice Springs NT||28,922||7.1%||1.1%|
NSW dominates the list, with 18 urban centres in the top 50 being all or partly in NSW. There are 11 in Queensland, 10 in Victoria, 5 in WA, 3 in Tas and SA and 2 in the NT.
These top 50 cities comprise 21,724,972 people. That’s 83.6% of the total population of Australia, which illustrates just how urbanised the nation is! Of course just the top 5 make up 61%.
There are a few changes from the last version. Some of these are due to rises and falls in population while others are due to boundary changes.
- As previously mentioned, Melbourne takes the #1 spot ahead of Sydney on a Significant Urban Area basis, but with the revision to the boundary it already was bigger in 2021 on the current boundary version. Both cities actually had downward revisions in population after the 2021 Census results.
- After Sydney, everything down to #23 on the list is in the same position as previously.
- In 2021, Melton was the 24th largest urban centre based on the old geographic boundary. It now doesn’t feature as the population is included as a part of Melbourne. The most common question we get on these blogs is “Where is <insert place name here>? It’s way bigger than 28,000 people”. And 99% of the time the answer is “It’s part of a larger urban area”. Examples of these (as well as Melton in Melbourne now) are Ipswich and Logan in Brisbane, and Mandurah in Perth.
- Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland both jumped a couple of spots, due to the large growth that Queensland has seen in the last few years.
- Ballina, NSW, rockets up the list due to a boundary change. In 2021 it didn’t make the top 50, and is now ranked #32. While there is substantial growth here, this is mainly due to a change in boundary so the Ballina urban area now includes Ballina Heights, Alstonville and Wollongbar (but not Byron Bay which is separate and well down the list at #101, just scraping in about the 10,000 cutoff to be called a Significant Urban Area).
- Geraldton, WA, rises to #41 on the list due to a few tweaks and strong growth, now going ahead of Bathurst and Nowra.
- Warrnambool, Vic, and Albany, WA, swap places at #44 and #45 with faster growth in Albany.
- The boundary of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, WA, has been extended a little, meaning that it has risen two spots compared to the last table, despite having a fall in population over 5 years. (It did have a small increase in population in the last one year.)
- Lismore, NSW, has dropped out of the list (now #52) as a result of loss of population with last year’s devastating floods.
- There are two new entries in the top 50! At #49, Victor Harbor – Goolwa is South Australia’s 3rd entry, and #50 is Alice Springs, the second entry for the NT.
Estimated Resident Population for 2022 has now been updated on all the .id sites. While we don’t use the Significant Urban Area classification much, we do have information for every suburb, town and district in our subscribing councils. If you’re interested in adding a community profile for your area, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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