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


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