Canberra celebrates its centenary – 100 years of population change

Presented by the Australian Demographic & Research Institute and the Australian Population Association.

Photo: Siew-Ean Khoo, Alison Taylor, Peter McDonald and Denise Carlton.

Audio and slides of the seminar


In the 100 years since Canberra was formally named on 12 March 1913 as Australia’s capital, its population has grown from a small rural community of less than 2,000 people (outnumbered by sheep and cattle at a ratio of over 500 to 1), to a city made up of over 100 suburbs and nearly 400,000 people. The drivers of growth have differed from many other cities whose transport advantages, location and accessibility supported the more common trade and economic foundations of growth. It wasn’t until 1960 that Canberra’s population reached 50,000, finally reaching 300,000 in 1994 and a point where the city’s size actually contributed to its growth. Nonetheless, Canberra’s planned suburbs and reliance on government administration for employment and economic stimulation have helped to shape population growth trends over the last century and continue to do so today.

This seminar examines the patterns of Canberra’s growth over the past 100 years, with a focus on the period since 1971 when the concept of the estimated resident population was introduced. Contributions to growth from natural increase and migration are considered and the characteristics on which Canberra differs from the other main cities of Australia are highlighted. Census data from as far back as 1911, together with other data sources from the past few decades, will be used to provide an overview of Canberra’s changing community of the past 100 years.

Dr Alison Taylor is the ACT Demographer and current President of the Australian Population Association. She spent 13 years dissecting Queensland’s demography and population growth trends where she also obtained her PhD investigating the social structure of the tourist city of Gold Coast. Since moving to Canberra in 2012, Alison has studied how Canberra relates to its region and is steadily working through the 2011 Census data to uncover stories of Canberra. Alison also uses her regular weekend bike rides around the Canberra region to learn about local differences and to locate a network of fine coffee shops – yet another indicator of a city’s growth.

Denise Carlton became Regional Director for the ACT at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2012. She has worked at the ABS for over 20 years, spending most of her career focussing on social statistics, including three years heading the team which produces Australian Social Trends. Denise is passionate about using data to tell the story of our society and how it is changing, and about how good statistical information can help improve the wellbeing of all Australians into the future. A Canberran since 1999, she has two Canberra-born and raised children and regards the ACT, with its combination of natural beauty and an engaged community, as home.

This seminar is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served after the seminar.

Further information
Jenny White 
T: 6125 3629


Date & time

Fri 22 Mar 2013, 3:30pm to 5:00pm


Room 1.04, Coombs Extension, Corner of Fellows & Garran Roads ANU


Dr Alison Taylor and Denise Carlton


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