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


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