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30 Fastest Growing Australian Cities

30 Fastest Growing Australian Cities
May 9, 2024 Propertyology Head of Research and REIA Hall of Famer, Simon Pressley

Eight of the Top 10 fastest growing cities of the last 20-years are from either Victoria or Western Australia.

The total national population increased from 19.7 million to 26.6 million over the 2-decades ending June 2023, a growth rate of 35 percent.

Of the state capitals, Perth (53 percent and ranked 16th fastest overall) and Brisbane (52 percent) had the highest population growth rate, while Adelaide (23 percent) was the lowest.

With a bigger base to grow from, the population of Australia’s largest city, Sydney, increased by 1,287,922 (31 percent growth and ranked 43rd overall).

The idyllic Bowral (23 percent) and Noosa (27 percent) were well below the national average and only marginally higher than Dubbo (20 percent).

Newcastle (21 percent), Rockhampton (18 percent), Wollongong (15 percent) and Launceston (13 percent) also underachieved on 20-year population growth.


Top 5 population growth influences

  • lifestyle seekers
  • immigration policy
  • employment opportunities
  • housing affordability
  • urban planning

While Sydney (-400,000), Melbourne (-80,000), Adelaide (-70,000) and Darwin (-12,000) all produced internal migration *declines* over the last 20-years, the regional city of Mandurah in Western Australia attracted a whopping net gain of 30,000.


30-fastest growing cities


1. Mandurah WA: 91 percent ($530,000)

Digging deep into the data weeds, Propertyology’s research confirmed that migrants from Perth and the UK (3 percent of residents were born in England) were the biggest contributors to Mandurah’s nation-leading population growth rate. Learn about the growth of Mandurah here.

2. Surf Coast VIC: 85 percent ($1,400,000)

Real estate in the picturesque townships of Lorne and Torquay attracts a higher median house value than Sydney and is only marginally lower than Byron (whose own population growth of 24 percent was significantly below the 35 percent national average across the last 20-years)


3. Mitchell VIC: 84 percent ($630,000)

Victoria’s 2nd fastest growing municipality includes the townships of Broadford, Seymour, Wallan and Kilmore.


4. Busselton WA: 81 percent ($730,000)

Situated 2-hours south of Perth, tightly held real estate in this lifestyle hotspot has meant Busselton’s property market has consistently outperformed the state’s capital city.


5. Sunshine Coast QLD: 70 percent ($970,000)

Over the last 20-years, Queensland’s fastest growing population added almost 100,000 (net) extra people just from internal migration. Much of this came from former residents of Melbourne and Sydney.


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6. Mount Barker SA: 68 percent ($670,000)

The second largest township in South Australia is the primary service centre for the glorious Adelaide Hills region. Mount Barker’s population boom is driven most by young families chasing the Utopian combination of high-quality lifestyle, affordable housing and a diverse range of employment opportunities.


7. Harvey WA: 68 percent ($505,000)

Adjacent to Bunbury in the state’s south-west, Harvey’s major assets include dairy, livestock, citrus and lithium.


8. Baw Baw VIC: 67 percent ($665,000)

Prominent townships include Warragul, Drouin, Longwarry and Yarragon. Over the last 20-years, approximately 20,000 (net) was added to the region’s population from internal migration, primarily through people relocating away from Melbourne for affordable housing and lifestyle benefits.

9. Golden Plains VIC: 67 percent ($765,000)

This fast-growing region is particularly popular to young families with school-aged children who enjoy a vibrant rural community while only being a 1-hour drive to Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat.


10. Bass Coast VIC: 63 percent ($790,000)

This is where a rich dairy heritage meets the sea. Its popularity as a scenic and relaxing holiday destination has aided its attraction for people to relocate to Inverloch, Port Phillip and Wonthaggi.


11. Gold Coast QLD: 62 percent ($1,000,000)

With a bigger population than three capital cities, the Gold Coast has all of the infrastructure of a global city plus a variety of fringe benefits. The population expansion has been accommodated by high density living, such that only 56 percent of all homes are now detached houses (well below the 72 percent national average).


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12. Maitland NSW: 62 percent ($710,000)

Australia’s 27th largest city and 5th largest inland city is a migration magnet which averages circa 1,200 (net) internal migrants and 200 (net) overseas migrants per year.


13. Alexandrina SA: 57 percent ($635,000)

A scenic 80-minute drive south-east of Adelaide is the character-filled townships of Strathalbyn and Goolwa (2-hour drive). The 30,000 residents of this region are immersed in a tranquil rural setting, world class wineries such as Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale, the beautiful Encounter Bay and an abundance of food experiences. 75 percent of the region’s population growth over the last 20-years came from internal migration, including many medium-high income professionals who exercised a lifestyle choice to relocate away from Adelaide.


14. Moorabool VIC: 55 percent ($685,000)

Bacchus Marsh, Darley and Ballan are among a collection of delightful townships which are dotted throughout this productive fruit and vegetable precinct, approximately 90-minutes west of Melbourne.


15. Livingstone QLD: 54 percent ($640,000)

Yeppoon is the gateway to Great Keppel Island. Just 40-kilometres east of Rockhampton, this highly desirable community has a median household age of 43 (cf. AUS average of 38) and above-average incomes, including a significant portion of both mining employees and work-from-home professionals.


16. Perth WA: 53 percent $620,000

Ranked 16th overall, Perth was the fastest growing capital city over the last 20-years. Its total population of 2,190,944 in June 2023 represented 76 percent of the state. At the bookends of the last 20-years, Perth produced property booms. During the middle of the last 20-years, a sharp downturn in China’s purchases exposed the state’s high reliance export revenue and resulted in a prolonged property market downturn – Perth’s median house price in 2020 had slipped back to the same value of 14-years earlier. Whilst it is a beautiful city to live, history proves that Perth’s property market performance is closely linked to the state’s export revenue, particularly the activity of China whom the state received $130 billion from in 2023. WA accounts for 45 percent of Australia’s total exports, worth $260 billion to Western Australia’s economy (including $130 billion from iron ore).

17. Fraser Coast QLD: 53 percent ($570,000)

The best climate in the country and popular retirement hotspot consistently attracts higher volumes of internal migration than metropolitan Brisbane. Fraser Coast’s 80 percent homeownership rate is one of the highest in Australia. The median house value more than tripled, from $175,000 at the start of the 20-year period to $570,000.


18. Brisbane QLD: 52 percent ($805,000)

Of the five municipalities which form Greater-Brisbane, the biggest contribution to population growth over the last 20-years occurred in the northern corridor of Moreton Bay (an extra 208,000 people, or 69 percent growth) and Ipswich in the west (adding 122,000 people). Across the period, Brisbane’s median house price tripled (from $268,000 to $806,000), although the 10-year period ending March 2020 was incredibly underwhelming (increasing by just 23 percent, while apartment values did not grow at all).


Related article: How will the Olympics affect Brisbane’s property market


19. Lockyer Valley QLD: 51 percent ($540,000)

Situated between Brisbane and Toowoomba, the townships of Gatton, Laidley and Plainlands service one of Australia’s most productive food bowls.


20. Cairns QLD: 46 percent ($570,000)

The 2nd largest city in the top half of Australia and 16th largest overall, Cairns made admirable improvements to its economic diversity during the last 20-years. It is reflected in Cairns’ very stable property market.


21. Geelong VIC: 44 percent ($750,000)

Major investment in highway upgrades along with construction of a $4 billion passenger rail infrastructure project from Melbourne to Geelong (along with Bendigo and Ballarat) in 2015 did wonders to support significant internal migration and to ease pressure on Melbourne.


Related article: Geelong’s terrific transformation


22. Melbourne VIC: 44 percent ($920,000)

The 1,562,815 increase to Melbourne’s population over 20-years to June 2023 is more than Adelaide’s total population growth over the 187-years since Colonel William Light first identified it for British settlement. Over the last 20-years, Melbourne’s total population increase was 274,893 more than Sydney’s, meaning it ranks 1st in Australia for total growth and 22nd for the rate of population growth. Regardless of population, the performance of Melbourne apartment values (4.3 percent average annual capital growth) was significantly worse than the detached house performance in almost all of Australia’s 400+ townships.

23. Cessnock NSW: 43 percent ($600,000)

It is the winery heartland of Hunter Valley. Interestingly, 7.5 percent of its workforce are employed in region’s coal mines.


24. Gympie QLD: 43 percent ($580,000)

This blue-collar community with a Gold Rush heritage has real estate which is more than half the price of Noosa, just 50-kilometres to Gympie’s south-east.


25. Canberra ACT: 43 percent ($955,000)

One of the newest developed cities in Australia, Canberra’s population increased from 327,357 to 466,566 over the last 20-years. Aside from organic influences (births and deaths), population growth was almost totally driven by overseas migration (51,678); only 5,232 came from internal migration.


26. Somerset QLD: 43 percent ($530,000)

Located 100 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, the average household in the townships of Esk and Kilcoy is a 45-year old couple with no children and a below-average income. This understated region plays an important role for SE Queensland’s water storage, electricity supply, meat processing and recreation (camping and water sports).


27. Karratha WA: 43 percent ($540,000)

With a population of 24,237, Karratha is the main services hub for the highly lucrative Pilbara region. This city and the nearby township of Port Hedland (17,247) generate much of the wealth for the 2.9 million residents of Western Australia.

28. Scenic Rim QLD: 42 percent ($700,000)

Beaudesert is the primary service centre of this aptly named region, situated within the golden triangle of Brisbane, Gold Coast and Ipswich. The region’s total population of 45,000 in June 2023 includes approximately 9,000 people (net) who migrated from other parts of Australia to enjoy living among the natural landscapes. An annual average increase to Scenic Rim’s median house price of 6.6 percent over the last 20-years was superior to every capital city other than Hobart (7.9 percent).


29. Ballarat VIC: 40 percent ($600,000)

Australia’s 20th largest city has always been popular for its fascinating heritage, beautiful architecture and affordable housing. In recent years, Ballarat has benefitted from a cosmopolitan uplift.


30. Whitsunday QLD: 39 percent ($370,000)

The local economy, population and property market of the beautiful township of Airlie Beach stagnated for several years prior to the pandemic. Since then, it has fast become a work-from-home hotspot. The region’s 39 percent population increase over the last 20-years is greater than Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide and Darwin.

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