Too much emphasis on capital city population growth and not on regional: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

Too much emphasis on capital city population growth and not on regional: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder
Too much emphasis on capital city population growth and not on regional: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

Melbourne has been attracting most of the population growth headlines, justifiably, but many of the outstanding growth areas of Australia are regional centres.

The population numbers confirm my view that there’s too much emphasis on capital cities and not enough on regional areas.

We have numerous regional centres which are larger than some of our state and territory capital cities. 

The Gold Coast-Tweed Heads and Newcastle-Maitland urban areas are both larger than the national capital, Canberra. 

The Central Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Wollongong and Geelong are all significantly bigger than Hobart; while Townsville, Cairns and Toowoomba are all larger cities than Darwin.

A recent analysis of the 50 largest urban areas of Australia by “id the population experts” shows which cities grew the most last year and over the past five years. I’d like to focus in particular on the top 20 urban areas.

In terms of growth in 2017, Geelong is the national growth star with a 2.7% increase, following by nearby Melbourne on 2.6%.

Next come the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, which both grew 2.5%. Brisbane grew 2%, so the unavoidable conclusion is that Australia has two major centres of exceptional population growth – the Melbourne-Geelong region and South-East Queensland.

In terms of five-year growth, the top six growth centres are Melbourne (13.5%), the Sunshine Coast (12.7%), Geelong (12.3%), the Gold Coast (11.4%), Darwin (10.2%) and Sydney (10.1%).

All of those urban centres, apart from Darwin (which has fallen into a bit of slump in recent years), had significant growth in 2017.

Other locations to record strong growth in both 2017 and the past five years include Ballarat (the 18th largest urban area in Australia) and Bendigo (the 19th largest).

Looking at centres in the 50 largest urban areas but not in the top 20, the two standout growth areas are Melton and Warragul-Drouin.

Melton, out in the far west of the Melbourne metropolitan area, grew 5.3% in 2017 and 26.6% in the past five years.

Warragul-Drouin, in the Gippsland region east of Melbourne, increased 3.4% in 2017 and 16.7% in the past five years.

Other ABS information shows that many of these regional areas are gaining population from people moving from nearby capital cities. The greatest beneficiary of this trend last year was the Gold Coast, followed by the Sunshine Coast.

Others to gain from refugees from the city include regional areas close to Melbourne, including Latrobe-Gippsland, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat. 

So there’s an undeniable pattern to the population growth achievers of Australia. Victoria is a stand-out, both Melbourne as the leading capital city and numerous regional centres which are surging ahead, including Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Warragul-Drouin.

Beyond Victoria, it’s all about South-East Queensland, with Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast all achieving consistently high growth.

If we change the focus and concentrate on Local Government Areas rather than continuous urban areas, there’s a slightly different focus, although Melbourne remains the star.

In terms of percentage population growth in 2017, the top 10 LGAs in Australia, according to “id the population experts”, include six municipalities in the Melbourne region, two in Sydney and two in Perth.

From this perspective, the leading population growth LGA last year was Camden in the far south-west of Sydney, which there is ample land for new housing development. The Camden LGA grew 8.4% in 2017.

In the Perth region, the LGAs of Serpentine-Jarrahdale (up 6.5%) and Kwinana (up 4.6%) ranked No.3 and No.7 among the nation’s municipalities for population growth rates in 2017.

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Melbourne Population Growth

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