Major Australian Towns
While Sydney is the most populous place in Australia (home to 4.6 million) and Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide round out the top five largest cities in Australia, not everyone lives in a bustling metropolis. Many people live in major towns and centres across the country.
There is a basic list of the biggest cities and towns in Australia, ranked according to population, on Wikipedia.
The Gold Coast Sprawl
The most populous area outside the capital cities is at long stretch of coast between New South Wales and Queensland. The sprawl of Tweed Heads, Coolangatta and the Gold Coast stretches for 56km (35 miles) – most of which is holiday resorts, hotels and beachfront skyscrapers. It’s home to about 600,000 people, with its popularity down to the great weather and incredible beaches.
New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
Australia’s seventh largest city is Newcastle, a coastal centre located just north of Sydney with a population of 550,000. It is just bigger than the national capital of Canberra-Queanbeyan conurbation, which has a population of 410,000. About 80km south of Sydney is Wollongong, another coastal centre, with a population just less than 300,000.
The next largest town (the 18th largest in Australia) straddles the Murray River. The NSW side is called Albury and the Victorian side is Wodonga. You’ll really only ever hear it referred as Albury-Wodonga. It has a population of some 110,000. NSW also has a few rural centres around 50,000 to 60,000 people, including Wagga Wagga (farming) and Coffs Harbour (coastal), Tamworth (farming, and Australia’s country music capital) and Port Macquarie (coastal). Slightly smaller major farming centres include Dubbo, Orange, Nowra, Bathurst and Lismore.
Many of Australia’s largest regional centres are in Queensland. The Sunshine Coast is home to 250,000 people and is popular for similar reasons to the Gold Coast.
Major regional centres include: Townsville (coastal) – which is the unofficial capital of far north Queensland (you’ll hear it called FNQ) and has a population of 170,000; Cairns, which is also coastal and developed as a mining and cane farming centre, and has a population of 150,000; and Toowoomba, which is in the mountains and has 130,000 residents.
Other large centres include Mackay (85,000), Rockhampton (78,000), Bunderberg (70,000) and Hervey Bay (60,000).
The largest centre outside of Melbourne is Geelong – a city based on the western side of Port Philip Bay and home to 180,000 people. Victoria is more highly urbanised than the other states and the regional centres are, therefore, generally a bit smaller. That said, the historic mining and farming centres of Ballarat and Bendigo have more than 90,000 residents each and the mountainous Latrobe Valley has about 80,000 residents.
Other larger centres include Mildura and Shepparton, each of which has about 50,000 people. Warrnambool, on the south coast, has 34,000 residents.
The largest centre outside of Perth is Mandurah, which most West Australian’s would actually consider part of Perth because it’s part of the metropolitan area and readily serviced by a good freeway and train line. Nevertheless, it’s a city in its own right and 85,000 people strong.
Another couple of hours south of Mandurah is Bunbury, the next largest town. It’s home to 70,000 people and is a major port as well as a farming centre. Other major centres include the mining towns of Kalgoorlie-Boulder (about 33,000 people) and the coastal and farming community of Albany, which is also home to about 30,000 people if you take into account the hinterland.
Tasmania’s capital, Hobart, isn’t huge. Taking in the surrounding areas, greater Hobart has just 215,000 residents. What Tasmania does well, however, is regional centres. Some of these are quite large. Launceston (a port) has a population in excess of 100,000 and the towns of Burnie and Devonport, together, have a population of more than 80,000.
South Australia and the Northern Territory
Both the NT and SA have regional centres, but they’re all less than 30,000 people in size. Size isn’t everything, of course. Some of these centres – like Alice Springs in the NT and Coober Pedy in SA – are very famous and very historic.
Visit our Life in Australia section for more articles about living in Australia.