The true centre of our lives
AN average suburban street complete with 1960s fibro houses and sprawling backyards is now the absolute geographical heart of Sydney’s booming population.
Dorothy St in Rydalmere doesn’t feature on tourist maps but according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it represents the centre of the city’s population.
By plotting 36 years of
population growth, the ABS has been able to track the shifting heart of the city, with the result surprising urban planners by how little it has travelled over that time, given Sydney’s population increased by 1.8 million people.
“To only move 1.9km shows the power of the eastern seaboard and the inner west as desirable places to live,” Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said.
“It also demonstrates the power of the Sydney CBD as a jobs and cultural magnet leading to the densification of the inner ring.”
In 1981 the centre of Sydney was Newington Armoury, where the government stored tonnes of gun powder and ammunition. The site for the Royal Australian Naval Armament Depot was chosen in 1882 because it was isolated from the population, then around 500,000 people.
Since then our demographic centre has moved north west, spending 1983 in the middle of the Parramatta
River before reaching Silverl water Rd in 1992.
This push was driven ven by strong population growth in Castle Hill, Blacktown and later Cherrybrook, which got a post office in 1994 after an explosion of houses.
After the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, it turned back to the east before bolting southwest as this region took off in 2011.
Andrew Howe, from the ABS’s Regional Population Unit, said the recent moves southwest have coincided with the announcement of BBadgerysderys Badgerys Creek Airport and the city being built around it.
“Over the past five years years, there’s been a slight move southwest, reflecting a surge of population in areas such as the Camden and Liverpool council areas, which both increased by 26,000 between 2012 and 2017,” he said.
“However, growth continues to be strong in the inner Sydney council area (up 43,000) and Parramatta (35,000). So the overall movement in the Sydney’s population centre however is really quite small — moving just 400m400 400m west over the past 25 years.
“This is much shorter than say Greater Melbourne, whose centre of population moved two kilometres west over this time.”
Both Mr Howe and Mr Johnson believe the population midpoint will continue its march southwest.
“I’d say it will cross the Parramatta River around 2021 and by 2036 we could very well see the centre of Sydney near Rosehill Racecourse,” Mr Johnson said.
“I suspect there will be a
greater swing of the centre of population to the West over the next 36 years.”
While the population has gone from 3.28 million to 5.13 million between 1981 and 2017, Dorothy St in Rydalmere has remained largely unchanged.
Father-of-three Danny Lo Castro (pictured) said it was the most convenient spot for him, his wife Rosa and their three kids. “I work in Campbelltown, my wife’s family are here, my family is here and one day we will rebuild our new house here; it’s the centre of everything,” he said. “I don’t mind the growth in Sydney since we moved here in 2001.
“It’s part of living in a big city. If you want a quiet lifestyle move to Brisbane.”
When Mr Lo Castro stood on his front lawn and looked west as a 28-year-old, he could only see a few smallish buildings at Parramatta.
Now at 45, he sees the multistorey towers of the western Sydney CBD, which has a greater economic output than the Adelaide CBD.
Danny Lo Castro and son Jonathan live in Dorothy St in Rydalmere — the centre point of Sydney’s population.