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.

Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn

Danny Lo Cas­tro and son Jonathan live in Dorothy St in Ry­dalmere — the cen­tre point of Syd­ney’s pop­u­la­tion.

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