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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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How many people live in Australia's coastal areas?

At 30 June 2001 more than 8 in 10 Australians (85%) lived within 50 kilometres of the coastline of Australia, up slightly from 1996 (83%). Most people living near the coast live in capital cities as seven of these are situated on the coast. However, there has been rapid growth of coastal areas outside of Australia’s capital cities (table 5.23).

In 2001, Tasmania had the highest proportion of its population (99%) living within 50 kilometres of the coast, followed by South Australia and Western Australia (both 91%) and Queensland (88%). The Northern Territory (66%) had the second lowest proportion of its population living within 50 kilometres of the coast (after the Australian Capital Territory, which is wholly inland) because a large proportion of the population lives in the inland centres of Alice Springs and Katherine.


Estimated resident population
Population living within 50 km of the coastline


New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

(a) Includes Other Territories.
Source: Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0); ABS data available on request, 2001 Estimated Resident Population.

Coastal growth outside of the capital cities

Between 1996 and 2001 many of Australia’s coastal regions outside capital city Statistical Divisions (SDs) experienced significant population growth. In general, this growth occurred more in regions close to capital cities and less in regions situated farther from capital cities, and in many cases the growth rates for these regions far exceeded the rates recorded for their respective states.

In New South Wales all coastal local government areas (LGAs) outside the Sydney SD recorded population growth between 1996 and 2001. Tweed (A), on the New South Wales-Queensland border, recorded the highest average annual growth of all New South Wales coastal LGAs, increasing by 2.8% per year between 1996 and 2001. The nearby LGAs of Byron (A) (up 2.2%) and Ballina (A) (up 1.9%) also experienced significant growth. In comparison, the population of New South Wales increased by an average 1.2% per year for the same period. Closer to Sydney, the populations of the LGAs of Hastings (A), Great Lakes (A) and Port Stephens (A) all increased by more than 2.3% per year, while south of Sydney the LGAs of Eurobodalla (A), Shoalhaven (C), Shellharbour (C), Bega Valley (A) and Kiama (A) recorded average growth rates of between 1.7% and 2.2% per year.

To the south-east and south-west of the Melbourne SD, the coastal LGAs of Bass Coast (S) and Surf Coast (S) experienced high levels of growth between 1996 and 2001, increasing by averages of 3.5% and 3.2% per year respectively. These were significantly higher than Victoria's average growth rate for the same period (1.1% per year), however, their numerical increases (4,100 people for Bass Coast and 3,000 for Surf Coast) were smaller than the largest population increases recorded in Victoria (e.g. the LGA of Casey increased by 32,600 people between 1996 and 2001). In general, Victoria's remaining coastal LGAs outside the Melbourne SD recorded small increases or decreases in population between 1996 and 2001.

Around the Brisbane SD, the coastal LGAs of Noosa (S), Gold Coast (C), Maroochy (S) and Caloundra (C) experienced average annual growth rates of around 3.0% or more between 1996 and 2001. These were considerably higher than Brisbane's and Queensland’s overall average growth rates for the same period (each 1.7% per year). Significant growth was also recorded in a number of LGAs spread out along the remainder of Queensland's coast.

In South Australia, to the south of the Adelaide SD, the coastal LGAs of Victor Harbour (DC) (up 3.5% per year) and Alexandrina (DC) (up 2.3% per year) recorded higher growth than the state overall (0.5% per year). Port Lincoln (C) on the western coast of the Spencer Gulf increased by an average 1.6% per year, while most other South Australian coastal LGAs recorded small levels of growth, or decreases in population.

The south-west region of Western Australia recorded some of the highest growth rates of coastal LGAs in Australia between 1996 and 2001. The population of Busselton (S) increased by an average 4.9% per year, Augusta-Margaret River (S) by 4.7% per year, Harvey (S) by 3.5% per year and Capel (S) by 3.5% per year. To the immediate south of the Perth SD, the population of Mandurah (C) increased by an average 3.9% per year while to the immediate north of Perth, Gingin (S) increased by 4.1% per year. Further from Perth, the LGAs of Irwin (S) and Greenough (S) increased by 3.9% and 3.4% per year respectively, while in the Kimberley SD the LGAs of Broome (S) (up 6.2% per year), Derby-West Kimberley (S) (up 4.9% per year) and Wyndham-East Kimberley (S) (up 2.1%) also experienced significant growth. The growth rates of these LGAs were all considerably higher than Western Australia's overall growth rate of 1.5% per year between 1996 and 2001.

Unlike other states and territories with coastal borders, Tasmania and the Northern Territory showed little growth in coastal Statistical Local Areas other than in Hobart and Darwin.


Australian Bureau of Statistics, Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand, 2001-02, cat. no. 3218.0.

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