Australia’s vertical communities continue to rise, despite a slight decline of 35 cranes down from 757 to 722 in the latest RLB Australian crane count. Sydney leads the nation with the largest number of cranes holding 299 cranes at the end of Q1, 2020, but even Sydney’s crane count declined by 20 cranes. Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city, but even it had a decline of 17 cranes, down to 196 cranes.

Australia's total crane count

Nationally, residential work was still the largest sector, despite a net decline of 37 cranes, down to 484 cranes in Q1, 2020. Encouragingly, a record 238 non-residential cranes are deployed in projects across commercial, education, health and infrastructure. This reveals that key infrastructure projects are commencing to support Australia’s rapid population growth.

Sydney vs Melbourne

Sydney leading the cities

Sydney, the largest city in Australia at 5.2 million residents, still has the most cranes with 299 cranes. In population, Sydney is marginally ahead of Australia’s fastest growing capital city, Melbourne, with 5 million residents.
Melbourne currently has 196 cranes after experiencing a net decline of -17 cranes over the last six months. Third place in the crane count is Brisbane, with just 58 cranes which interestingly added 1 crane.

wdt_ID Capital city Population Separate house Semi-detached Units/ Apartments Crane count % of total cranes

Sydney is leading the vertical development of dwellings

Sydney has the largest proportion of household dwellings that are units/apartments (28.1%). This high proportion is what drives the vertical development requiring cranes and means that Sydney has 103 more cranes than Melbourne.

Melbourne, however, has the largest proportion of semi-detached dwellings (16.8%), resulting in the challenges that come with suburban sprawl coupled with the nation’s fastest population growth rate for a capital city.

Hobart has the highest proportion of detached dwellings among the capital cities in Australia.

Decline in cranes

Cranes declining in the residential sector

Interestingly, the number of cranes building residential developments saw a net decrease of 37 at the start of 2020, despite population growth maintaining stable throughout the first few months of 2020. The largest sector of crane use is however still residential with 484 cranes across Australia despite the small decrease. Commercial cranes declined by 4 in the last 6 months, however mixed use projects rose by 9.



  1. RLB
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics


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