Melbourne overtakes Sydney as Australia's biggest city for the first time in a century
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Melbourne has finally wrestled the crown of Australia's largest city from Sydney.
Yep, Sydney, with its beaches, massive bridge, Opera House, and beachy, linen-wearing locals from the Eastern suburbs that look like they belong running along the Bondi to Coogee walk in slow-motion á la Baywatch, lost the title quite some time ago.
This was due to a little rule called the Significant Urban Area classification.
The classification is one of the ways the ABS tallies Australia’s population.
The rule, which sees all border-sharing urban centres with more than 10,000 people included in the larger city boundaries, saw the population of Melbourne lift to 4,874,400 in June 2021.
And, not only has Melbourne swiped the accolade from an unsuspecting Sydney, but it has been the most-populated for quite some time.
Recent boundary changes indicate Melbourne’s Significant Urban Area overtook Sydney way back in 2018.
ABS data also indicates the population difference between Melbourne and Sydney ballooned out to 71,800 in 2020, in Melbourne's favour.
ABS Regional Population Unit demographer Andrew Howe said the boundary change for the Victorian capital was the result of a surge of population growth in the city's west.
"The 2021 census told us that Melton and the rest of Greater Melbourne was now, statistically, one contiguous area," he said.
“Until the 2021 census definition, the Sydney significant area had a higher population than Melbourne. However, with the amalgamation of Melton into Melbourne in the latest significant urban area classification, Melbourne has more people than Sydney – and has had since 2018.”
Macquarie University demographer Professor Nick Parr told the Sydney Morning Herald the reason for Melbourne's spike in growth comes down to net internal migration.
So, in other words, people who have moved from elsewhere in Australia minus movements to elsewhere in the nation.
"Sydney’s growth has been slowed by its substantial net losses of people due to internal migration,” he said.
"Far more people have moved out of Sydney going to other parts of Australia, especially to the rest of NSW, Queensland and Victoria, than have moved to Sydney from elsewhere in Australia."
The population of Melbourne now sits at a grand total of 4,875,390, compared to Sydney's paltry 4,856,693.