2016 Census: National Capital Cities

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27 June 2017

Census reveals two thirds of our population live in Australia’s capital cities

The results of the latest Census, undertaken less than 10 months ago by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), today revealed Australia’s capital cities are home to two thirds of our growing population.

The Census shows that a fascinating cross section of people and our cultures are in our capital cities, which are getting bigger, more diverse and growing at a much faster rate than the rest of the country.

Within capital city areas, there was a 10.5 per cent growth in population since 2011, nearly double the rate found in other areas (5.7 per cent). In fact, more than 15 million people (67 per cent) are now living in a capital city.

The crown jewel of New South Wales, Greater Sydney, remains Australia’s largest population centre, with 4,823,991 usual residents on Census night – a 9.8 per cent increase since 2011. Either from interstate or overseas, 1,656 people made the move to Sydney every week since the last Census in 2011.

Greater Melbourne is catching up fast, with 4,485,211 usual residents of Victoria’s capital on Census night, a 12.1 per cent increase from 2011. That’s the equivalent of 1,859 new residents a week in Greater Melbourne since the 2011 Census.
Meanwhile, Greater Brisbane’s count of 2,270,800 people means that almost half of all Queensland residents live in the Sunshine State’s capital.

Greater Perth can lay claim to being home to the fastest growing region in Australia, where Serpentine - Jarrahdale saw a population increase from 18,000 people in 2011 to 27,000 people in 2016, a jump of more than 50 per cent (51 per cent).

On the Apple Isle, Greater Hobart recorded the highest median age of any capital city, with a median age of 40, while Greater Darwin had the youngest median age at 33. Hobart can boast the country’s lowest housing costs – a median monthly mortgage payment of $1,402, and a median weekly rent of $260.

Darwin recorded Australia’s highest median weekly income at $1,052. Darwin is also home to the country’s joint-highest median monthly mortgage payments, $2,200 a week, a title they share with Sydney. Unsurprisingly, Sydneysiders pay the highest median weekly rent in Australia at $440 per week.

At the opposite end of the scale, in the ‘City of Churches’, Greater Adelaide recorded Australia’s lowest median weekly personal income at $617.

Australian Statistician David W. Kalisch said Census data is high quality, thanks to the participation of Australians.

“The Independent Assurance Panel I established to provide extra assurance and transparency of Census data quality concluded that the 2016 Census data can be used with confidence,” Mr Kalisch said.

“The 2016 Census had a response rate of 95.1 per cent and a net undercount of 1.0 per cent. This is a quality result, comparable to both previous Australian Censuses and Censuses in other countries, such as New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“63 per cent of people completed the Census online, embracing the digital-first approach and contributing to faster data processing and data quality improvements.

“2016 Census data provides a detailed, accurate and fascinating picture of Australia, which will be used to inform critical policy, planning and service delivery decisions for our communities over the coming years,” he said.

Census data is available free online. Use one of our easy tools such as QuickStats and Community Profiles to access the latest data for your area or topic of interest.

You can also attend one of our free Seminars. To find out more about Census Data Seminar series, or to register, go to the ABS website.

Australia’s capital cities
Population Growth (%)

Usual resident count Greater Sydney

Usual resident count Greater Melbourne

Usual resident count Greater Brisbane

Usual resident count Greater Adelaide

Usual resident count Greater Perth

Usual resident count Greater Hobart

Usual resident count Greater Darwin