Census information paints a picture of Cootamundra's past

19 August 2011 | NSW/118

The Census of Population and Housing, which took place on Tuesday, 9 August, marked 100 years of national Census taking in Australia.

This milestone was matched and surpassed by the Shire of Cootamundra, which on Saturday, 13 August celebrated its 150th anniversary.

NSW Census Director Mark Harding says that figures generated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) can tell the story of the Shire's rich history.

"The Census takes a snapshot of Australia every five years, the number of people, their key characteristics and the houses in which they live. Looking back over the past 100 years, Census information paints a fascinating picture of Cootamundra and its surrounds," Mr Harding says.

State Census figures from 1871 show that the Village of Cootamundra had a total population of 237 with 140 males and 68 per cent of all residents being born in the colonies that were to form Australia.

During the first National Census, 100 years ago in 1911, Cootamundra Shire had a total population of 2,967 living in 553 households.

By 1961, the Shire's population had swollen to 5,939 with males and females in equal numbers, 96 per cent of people born in Australia and four people aged 95 and over.

As Census counting evolved and the landscape of Australia's population developed, more recent Censuses distinguished between the town of Cootamundra and the Shire.

In 2006, Cootamundra Shire was home to 7,315 people of which 5,566 lived in the town of Cootamundra. Forty-five per cent of people fully owned their household compared to 33 per cent nationally and the median weekly rent was $123 which was $67 less than the national figure.

Mr Harding says that the Census is an important tool for decision makers when planning services for our communities but it also helps tell the story of where we came from.

"Infrastructure and facilities that we use every day like roads, transport, schools and hospitals are planned using Census information but it's also an invaluable reference which provides an insight into our own history.

"Although the Census doesn't release personal information about people, under the optional Census Time Capsule program, personal Census data can be stored by the National Archives of Australia and after 99 years released for research purposes.

"For those residents of Cootamundra who chose the Time Capsule option in this year's Census, the picture painted by you in 2011 will be revealed when the Shire turns 250 in 2161," Mr Harding adds.

It's not too late to complete your 2011 Census form. Census Collectors will be out collecting until 28 August and the online eCensus option is also still open.

If you haven’t received a Census form or need an eCensus Number you can request one at www.abs.gov.au/census.