When it comes to growth, we are our own worst enemy

What proportion of Australia's landmass is used by our cities? 20%?



If that’s the case then the truth may shock you.

Land use in Australia is closely monitored by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, a section of the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, using both the latest technology and a nation-wide consistent classification system that is broken down into a “national scale” map and a “catchment scale map” –all of which can be found at the link below:


But back to the question at hand – just how much of Australia is used up by our cities?

0.41% - not even 1%.

A number which is itself deceiving as 0.23/0.41 is rural residential only, leaving just 0.18% for uses listed as “mainly urban”.

Our cities, where over 80% of our population resides - where all of our money, infrastructure and football teams live – cover just 0.18% of our nation’s landmass (or approx. 13,000 km2). When you consider this in a global context, though there are numerous measure of urban area, most scholars agree that after excluding Antarctica the proportion of the world that is urban area covers 1-3% of the surface[1], which would imply that Australia is somewhat underbuilt.

Granted it’s a big place and not all of Australia’s 7.6 million square kilometres are habitable in the traditional sense (notably it seems the further north you go the more susceptible people are to the Troppo effect, which you would know if you’d ever read the NT news) however it should also be said that most of this continent’s carrying capacity remains untapped.

Specifically, our dry country lets most of our rainfall flow into the sea. The final report by the Northern Australia land and Water Taskforce (NALWT) released in 2010 stated that there are 600 gigalitres of groundwater alone that could be used to quadruplue the current size of agricultural industry in Northern Australia (approximately from Broome to Cooktown and most of inland regional QLD). The Taskforce noted that this figure does not include rivers, rainfall or any water conservation schemes, as the data required to figure that out just hasn’t been collected.

And yet here we are, huddled in our tiny corner of great Terra Australis, paying $400,000 for 250m2 of land on the far flung fringes of our few largest cities. which leaves you to wonder:


For answers to this and other property related enquiries, contact Somma Sourivong, General Manager - Victoria on 0404 079 407 / 03 9600 0500 or at Sommanovan.sourivong@macroplan.com.au.

[1] How much of the world’s land has been urbanized, really? A hierarchical framework for avoiding confusion, Zhifeng Liu • Chunyang He • Yuyu Zhou • Jianguo Wu 6 April 2014 / Published online: 12 April 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014