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By Glenn Capuano

Inner city areas of Australia are booming – regional population growth 2022-23 update

The 2022-23 population update figures (Estimated Resident Population) have just been released by the ABS.

This happens around the end of March every year but is particularly eagerly awaited this year, as we already knew from the state and national ERP released just before Christmas, that in the year to June, Australia piled on an extra 634,000 people or 2.4%.

This is a record number of extra people (but not a record percentage growth) and is largely due to an extremely high Net Overseas Migration of +528,000 (comprised of a high migrant inflow and low outflow).

Natural increase (births minus deaths) now makes up just 17% of our total population growth as a nation.

Return of the cities

After a couple of years during COVID when growth in regional areas outpaced the cities, population growth in 2022-23 returned to “normal” in its distribution; it’s anything but normal in terms of the amount of growth.

As cities gain the most overseas migration, these areas have returned to having the largest and fastest growth in the nation.

The combined capital cities of Australia grew by 517,200 people, or 3.0% for the year.

This is not to say that regional areas aren’t growing – they added 117,300 people (1.4%) – but capital cities accounted for more than 81% of Australia’s population growth in 2022-23.

Greater Capital Cities Population June 2023 1 year change 1 year % change Regional Australia Population June 2023 1 year change 1 year % change
Greater Sydney 5,450,496 146,702 2.8% Regional NSW  2,891,789  +28,879 1.0%
Greater Melbourne 5,207,145 167,484 3.3% Regional Vic  1,608,296 +17,326 1.1%
Greater Brisbane 2,706,966 81,220 3.1% Regional Qld  2,753,454  +58,259 2.2%
Greater Adelaide 1,446,380 28,057 2.0% Regional SA  405,904  +3,012 0.7%
Greater Perth 2,309,338 81,318 3.6% Regional WA  571,889  +8,115 1.4%
Greater Hobart 253,654 1,165 0.5% Regional Tas  319,502  +940 0.3%
Greater Darwin 150,736 1,582 1.1% Regional NT  101,793 + 719 0.7%
Canberra/ACT 466,566 9,651 2.1%  
Total Greater Capital Cities 17,991,281 517,179 3.0% Total Regional Australia  8,652,627 + 117,250 1.4

At a capital city level, Perth had the standout growth of 3.6%, or more than 81,000 people, closely followed by Melbourne with 3.3%, or 167,000.

Tasmania’s huge growth during COVID-19 has evaporated as the state loses population to the mainland again; Greater Hobart was the slowest growing of the capitals, at 0.5% growth.

Among regional areas, Queensland continues to have the stand-out growth of 2.2%, but it’s still below Greater Brisbane at 3.1%.

Population growth in local government areas

This map shows the population by LGA on June 30th, 2023.

Change In Erp 2022 23

Fastest growing LGAs 2022-23

LGA Population June 2023 % growth 2022-23
Melbourne, Vic  177,396 10.6%
Perth, WA  32,856 7.4%
Upper Gascoyne, WA  201 6.9%
Melton, Vic  206,070 6.6%
Adelaide, SA  27,901 6.6%
Peppermint Grove, WA  1,736 6.0%
Sydney, NSW  231,086 5.9%
Serpentine-Jarrahdale, WA  36,739 5.6%
Camden, NSW  134,811 5.5%
Yarra, Vic  97,448 5.5%


The fastest growing areas are dominated by the inner cities in 2022-23, with the top 10 containing the City of Melbourne (#1) as well as the cities of Perth, Adelaide and Sydney. So 4/10 are capital city LGAs.

Capital cities are often the epicentres for overseas migration and are particularly attractive to students.

The general trend in 2023 is that any area that tends to get a lot of overseas migration is growing strongly.

These areas – Melbourne and Sydney in particular – also recorded the largest declines during the COVID-19 pandemic as students left in 2020 and 2021.

So in a way, this is just the return to normal for the inner city areas.

This table above is in percentage terms, and you can get a high percentage growth from a very small population base.

The typical example is number 3 on this list: the tiny, remote Upper Gascoyne, whose population exceeded 200 in 2023, growing by 6.9% by adding 13 people!

But it's very small compared to the average-sized LGA, even in rural areas.

Similarly, the tiny (for a metropolitan LGA) and very wealthy Peppermint Grove, comprising just one small suburb in the west of Perth, made the list at #6, with 6.0% growth.

More traditional fringe growth areas such as Melton, Victoria and Camden NSW also made the list.

Other very large growth areas like Blacktown in NSW and Casey and Wyndham Victoria don't make the top 10 as their populations are very large now.

To see them we need to look at the absolute growth numbers.

Largest growth LGAs 2022-23

LGA Population June 2023 Absolute growth 2022-23
Brisbane, Qld  1,323,162  39,730
Gold Coast, Qld  666,087  18,909
Melbourne, Vic  177,396  17,068
Blacktown, NSW  426,202  15,258
Logan, Qld  377,773  14,714
Wyndham, Vic  324,087  14,689
Moreton Bay, Qld  510,104  13,332
Casey, Vic  392,110  13,006
Sydney, NSW  231,086  12,811
Melton, Vic  206,070  12,785

Looking at absolute growth by numbers, we exclude the smaller population areas that have had high percentage growth from a low base.

The largest growth is always the City of Brisbane, since it's the only LGA of more than 1 million people and contains the majority of the population of Greater Brisbane. (Logan and Moreton Bay are also in Greater Brisbane and feature in the top 10.)

Even on this list, the City of Melbourne – with the fastest growth in percentage terms – is in there at #3.

The rest of the list is fringe metropolitan areas with a lot of greenfield growth still happening, such as Casey, Blacktown, Logan and Melton.

Where are the fastest growth and declines happening across Australia's states and territories?

Growth rates among the states are highly variable, but within each state, there are areas of growth and decline as usual.

This year, the growth is dominated by large metropolitan LGAs.

The decline is primarily in smaller rural areas again, but some rural areas are still growing quite strongly.

New South Wales

The largest growth in our most populous state was Blacktown, adding 15,258 people, or 3.7%, while the fastest was the City of Sydney with 5.9% or 12,811 people.

Another strong growth was found in the outer suburbs and inner city areas of Sydney, including Camden, Randwick and The Hills.

Notably, Randwick and the City of Sydney had the largest population declines just two years before during the pandemic restrictions.

Every LGA in Greater Sydney grew in the 2022-23 year, with just a few small declines in regional areas.

The largest decline was -367 people in Lismore, a consequence of the 2022 catastrophic flooding in this area.



It was just two years ago that Victoria's population declined by more than 50,000 people during COVID-19.

Now it is the second-fastest growing state, and the City of Melbourne is the fastest growing LGA in the country (10.6%) and third-largest growth (+17,068 people).

Melton, on the western outskirts of Melbourne, is the next fastest at 6.6%, followed by two more inner-city areas:

  • Yarra (5.5%) and
  • Port Phillip (5.2%).

Again, population declines are confined to a few rural areas.

The largest fall was in the Shire of Campaspe, centred around Echuca on the Murray River, declining by 257 people.

This is also likely to be flooding-related; it contains the town of Rochester, which was heavily impacted in late 2022.


The Sunshine State had continuous population growth during COVID-19 and continues to grow strongly, with a lot of interstate migration and an increasing amount of overseas migration.

As we've already seen, Brisbane is by far Australia's largest LGA, with 1.3 million people, about double the size of the second largest.

It always dominates the "largest" growth but rarely the "fastest".

Adding 39,730 people in one year, the City of Brisbane managed to be the 3rd-fastest growing LGA in Queensland, with 3.1%.

The fastest was on Brisbane's outskirts (still part of Greater Brisbane):

  • the cities of Logan (4.1%) and
  • Ipswich (3.5%).

Queensland's regional areas grew more strongly than anywhere else in Australia.

Only 3 LGAs recorded population declines in Queensland:

  • Mount Isa (-101 people),
  • Torres Shire (-15) and
  • Balonne Shire (-7)

South Australia

South Australia

Growth in South Australia continued, but whereas in COVID-19 there was movement from interstate into SA, there is now a return to small net migration out.

Almost all the growth (about 90%) was due to overseas migration, and 90% of the total growth was in the Greater Adelaide region.

The fastest growth was in the City of Adelaide itself, which welcomed back a lot of international students to the inner city, growing by 6.6%, or 1,718 people.

Adelaide Plains was the next highest in percentage terms, adding 4.6% – though this was only 478 people.

Playford, on the northern fringe of Adelaide, was next with 3.5% growth and had the largest growth of 3,668 people.

A few areas in more remote parts of SA had population falls, but these were at most a few dozen people, with Coober Pedy losing 1.5% of its population (23 people) and the largest fall being a loss of 29 people in Port Augusta.

Western Australia

Reclaiming the mantle of the fastest-growing state in Australia, WA grew by 3.2%, or nearly 90,000 people, of which 90% was in Greater Perth.

As with other states, the inner city dominated, with the City of Perth having the largest percentage growth of 7.4% (2,276 people).

This was followed by the tiny Upper Gascoyne, adding 13 people for a growth rate of 6.9%.

The affluent suburb of Peppermint Grove was next – a whole Local Government Area comprised of a single suburb of 1,736 people.

Then it was Serpentine-Jarrahdale, a rapidly growing area on Perth's south-eastern fringe, with 5.6% growth. (S-J has been the fastest-growing area for many years.)

The largest growth was in the City of Wanneroo on Perth's northern fringe, adding 8,181 people, or 3.7% for the year.



The Apple Isle is the only state or territory that recorded a lower rate of growth in 2022-23 than it did two years before at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the Census "found" about 25,000 extra people in Tasmania, due to people moving in or moving back from the mainland.

In 2022-23, interstate migration turned negative again, as people left for the mainland.

So despite high overseas migration, the state's population grew by only 0.4% for the year.

The fastest-growing LGA was Brighton at 1.6% (+310 people), followed by Huon Valley at 1.2% (+239).

Both of these are on the fringe of Hobart, north and south respectively.

The largest growth was in the City of Clarence, adding 579 people.

It's worth noting that even the fastest-growing areas are below the national average growth rate in 2022-23.

Only 6 LGAs in Tasmania recorded a decline, though, with the largest in percentage terms being King Island (-1.6%) and the largest in an absolute number being Glenorchy (-204 people).

Northern Territory

The NT also had a strong migration out of the territory to other parts of Australia but still managed 0.9% population growth for 2022-23.

The fastest growing LGA was West Arnhem (+2.1%, +149 people), while the largest growth was in the City of Palmerston, just outside Darwin, adding 646 people.

East Arnhem lost 97 people or 1%, making it the most significant decline in NT.


Australian Capital Territory

The ACT grew strongly by nearly 10,000 people or 2.1% – but it doesn't have Local Government Areas.

At the suburban level, new growth areas on the urban fringe of Gungahlin and Belconnen grew the most, such as Taylor, Denman Prospect and Strathnairn.

Nearby Queanbeyan-Palerang LGA in NSW added 1.8% or 1,133 people.

Canberra is the only capital city for whom the Significant Urban Area (which includes Queanbeyan) is larger than the Greater Capital City Statistical Division (just the ACT).

The Significant Urban Area for Canberra-Queanbeyan added 2.0% and exceeded 500,000 people for the first time in 2022-23.


About Glenn Capuano Glenn is a Census expert working at .id Informed Decisions. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Visit .id Informed Decisions
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