Australia's Capital Cities

Thursday, July 09, 2015



Over 66% of Australians live in the greater metropolitan area of Australia’s 8 capital cities with Sydney being the largest (around 4.9 million), followed by Melbourne (4.5 million). Darwin is Australia’s smallest capital city, with a current population of around 144,000. The nation’s capital, Canberra, has a population of 394,000, larger than Darwin and Hobart combined.

The title of fastest growing city is held by Perth which has recorded 3.05% per year for the past 5 years whilst Hobart has the lowest rate of growth of only 0.67% per year over the same period. Sydney and Melbourne recorded growth of 1.5% and 1.95% per year over respectively.

In terms of population increase, Melbourne comes up on top with an increase of 95,655 people in the last year while Hobart only had an increase of 1,247 people in the same period. In fact Melbourne is growing by more people every 5 days than Hobart adds in an entire year. Sydney recorded an increase of 84,230 people in the last year and based on this increase will be Australia’s first city to reach 5 million, a milestone it will achieve by the middle of 2016.

However, at a state level there have been significant changes over the last 3 years in the population growth rate across Australia. Western Australia, which was the fastest growing state has seen this annual growth rate more than halve from a peak of 3.68% in 2012 to just 1.58% currently. Over the same period of time, Queensland’s growth has also declined significantly from 2.0% to 1.37% now, while Victoria’s consistent population growth rate of 1.75% makes it the fastest growing of any Australian state or territory.

Sydney has a population approximately 400,000 larger than Melbourne’s but Melbourne is growing by over 10,000 more people than Sydney year on year. Assuming medium levels of fertility, overseas migration, life expectancy, and interstate migration flows, Melbourne will take Sydney’s title of Australia’s largest city in 2053 with both cities expected to reach a population of 8 million in 2055.

Perth’s rate of growth will see it overtake Brisbane in 2029 when they both have a population of just over 3 million. They currently have a population of 2.1 million and 2.3 million respectively.


The Gold Coast – Tweed Heads area has the largest population outside of the capital cities (almost 630,000) and also registered the largest increase in number of residents in 2009 to 2014. The 2nd largest urban area is the Newcastle – Maitland area but the Sunshine Coast had the 2nd largest increase in population even though they are ranked 4th in terms of population size. The City of Dubbo, with a population of 36,622 is the smallest of Australia’s significant urban areas.

Launceston recorded the lowest smallest rate of population increase between 2009 and 2014, growing by only 0.35% per year but they are ranked 13th in overall population, out of 32 significant urban areas. The Traralgon – Morwell area was the only area to experience a population decline with a decrease in population of 28 between 2013 and 2014.

On the other end of the scale, Ellenbrook is the fastest growing urban area by far, recorded growth of 8.35% per year between 2009 and 2014 followed by Melton which recorded growth of 5.32% per year over the same period.



  • Reach 5m in 2016, 6m in 2029, 7m in 2042, 8m in 2055
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 1.23%


  • Reach 5m in 2021, 6m in 2032, 7m in 2043, 8m in 2055
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 1.44%


  • Reach 3m in 2028, 4m in 2047
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 1.6%


  • Reach 1.5m in 2027
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 0.83%


  • Reach 3m in 2028, 4m in 2042, 5m in 2055
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 2.14%


  • Reach 250,000 in 2034
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 0.47%


  • Reach 200,000 in 2048
  • Average annual growth from 2016-2056 = 1.08%

Sydney vs Melbourne

  • Melbourne will overtake Sydney for the title of largest Australian city in 2053

Brisbane vs Perth

  • Perth will overtake Brisbane for the title of 3rd largest Australian city in 2029

*Data assuming medium levels of fertility, overseas migration, life expectancy, and interstate migration flows.

Sources: ABS, McCrindle

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


life Queensland: QLD twentyseventeen eliane miles school students logan parents poor young people brand sentiments local communities cold DIY women 24,000,000 online shopping neutral bay meals society healthy future buildings marriages research report environment non profit new office Generation X optus my business awards bus nfp education research Macquarie University property market case study identity financial events workshop presentations earning internships weather safe trend tuesday 2020 future proofing Hills Shire Council faux-cilising Gen Y sydney event growth average aussie university degree Sydney Hills Business Chamber shopper's pick daily telegraph baby names learner wolloomooloo VET sector acf15 census 2016 consumerism Tuesday Trend demographics politics NBRS Architecture rich social enquiry Merry Christmas tips insights thrive earnings investment car mover and shaker perth Duchess of Cambridge community engagement faux-cilise internet the changing face of Engineering Manager society trends 2014 research jobs school satisfaction researcher survey design royal influence list sun youth unemployment FOMO SMSF culturally diverse medicine student long weekend group session university communications rising house prices career teaching education sector investor product outsourcing parenting socialites baby name trends emerging technologies gen alpha small business PSI forum teleworking population milestone tv city consumer water energy aged care puzzle pharmacy friendship Caregiver Australian Trends global financial crisis JOMO education future report meetings proactive future Australia Day 2017 hobart priorities generations selfie Valentine’s Day paying to work 2016 census results innovative census results area insight generational trends government Northern Beaches the hills shire ipswich rental stress fresh New South Wales future-proof results news focus group authenticity demographic transformations social analysis millionth social commentator New Zealand emerging generations Vocational education Aussies public speaker NSW Royals professional development conference gold coast WA Tasmania Births mythbusting debt award pharmacies optus bondi education future survey teachers Channel 7 rise of local hills shire market research Geoff Brailey mccrindle in the media customer lifestyle socialising mentor cost royal family professional speaker commuters darwin low density generation Z visual royal World Water Day cloudy days 1994 affordability young australians newspaper Sydney budget cartodb engagement public holiday Assistant Store Manager entrepreneurial emerging trends Gen X skills plans Australian Home sydney metro Northern Territory geomapping couple media activity financial independence Channel Seven sunny days christian housing affordability huffington post workplace gen z real holiday thought leadership coffee Adelaide australian communities trends report dreaming focus groups national wealth year 12 states food stats sydneycity CBD holidays social lives report supply and demand waverton Australian Dream capital cities group family Work place kate middleton DESTEL language collaboration urban living household brands NT dream easter business index communities mateship 1975 wellbeing annual income social media population census data visualisation house price recap housing "know the times" mythbusters cancelling event 2015 school affordable Word Up staff research visualisation demographic world youth day wedding wealth office new york times norwest 1980 statistics deloitte Melbourne environmental scanning unaffordable SA tableau village mother's day baby name predictions IT Specialists Australian Communities Trends australian social research grandparents marriage omnibus resource woolworths community builders dessert Deaths tertiary education research data leader professional services aussie culture mccrindle research motivate not-for-profit bureau personalities hello fresh media future proof jobs of the future baby names australia report research pack snapshot residents debate Love resilience moderators guide training trend visualisation McCrindle Speakers digital millennials breakfast house prices know the times James Ward repayments equip speakers potts point wealth distribution Northern beaches Event keynote speaker mortgage Australian schools baby boomers housing trends analysis trades Queensland social shifts qualitative research sunburnt country publication sector wide study pyrmont Wodonga cancelling plans Christmas presents learn monarchy mining boom unemployment faith Netflix seasons study trends Canberra ageing population wealth and income distribution business ultimo tuesday social life trends of 2017 demographic trends futurist Wellington divorce urban living index forecast schools students happiness educated sports vegemite high school future of education global generations home hopes innovation video finance capital city renting Christchurch winter media commentary Australia Day the average aussie sector wide Australian Population income vegetarian workplace culture daily commute trends of 2016 narcissism rule keeper apartment data analyst rain weekly earnings SMART property Western Australia students christmas tea The Daily Edition Northern Beaches Christian School experience australian communities forum cost of living millenials suburb clothing greatness social issues learning styles Real Estate Institute of Victoria data moreton bay Australians balance father's day VET infographic princess charlotte demographer mccrindle Do It Yourself friends South Australia manly travelling Kiwi collaborative in the media gender employment youth population growth dare to dream easy rider HSC high density suburbs australians staying home more slideshare home ownership quote public speaking communicate ethnography litter social research offenders growing population Financial Planning Week typical australian wealth and income google for education teach belief New Zeland employers program Charlotte EFF work divorce rate suburban living community event religion property price work-life retirement educhat winter blues population map February 16 aged care stay home australia cash presentation FPA conference presentation blaxland relational changing face of sydney Population Clock ashley fell organisational culture ease of travel award winner urban taskforce mobile office opening relevant wage financial future 23 million the australian dream social commentary curiosity professional 2017 Tuesday Trends REIV Conference goals baby 40 million shopping intern 2013 hornsby in depth interviews business performance charity megatrends 2012 storytelling faux-ciliser spirituality sydney hills The ABC of XYZ men sector TAS spend Crime Rates train leadership cars high density living English Hornsby Shire Council middle class home owner online house organisations Christmas lunch personal growth story ideas increasing densification Generation Y VIC NEETs fears learning marrickville facts Australian Families crime challenge Scouts culture careers Sydney keynote speaker urban trends analyst Research Executive census fail Australian Census goal social researchers ACF lalor park graphs baby boom travel media release marketing education townhouses define generation System's Architect families social researcher Res Vis ABS 10 years global 1968 ACF 2016 national crime rates Financial Planning Association high density apartments REIV National Conference forecasting volunteers change staying in poker master responsive work mates ACT children TDE baby names report domestic brisbane Mark McCrindle internship earn child care economy contiki local social impact crows nest Real Estate social change transport toys owning a home baby name land of the middle class workforce entrepreneurs of today living infographic wall leadership workshop Financial Planning Association of Australia event etiquette shbc 2016 christianity house price rise NBRS sustainable engage cultural diversity celebration optimistic rent Education Future Forum office space brand experience commute ferry ageing panel social click ashley mckenzie future of work overcast financial dreams grave decision entertainment households church generation alpha #censusfail world state eliane victoria participants schools financial fears Skilling royal baby going out 24 million Myth Australian communities networking entrepreneur criminal 2016 census follow mccrindle tea cancel plans post rationalism Social Trend summer the hills names housing market January 26th technology Andrew Duffin sydneysiders salary economic housing growth Australian Bureau of Statistics Bathburst menai communication Australian demographics conference speaker cooking tattoos national private wealth alpha wages shifts GPO sydney speaker prince george Wagga Wagga investing anzac google year 7 interactive teacher renter of the future Christmas season conferences Aussie Territory keynote research services Kirsten Brewer social trends not for profit