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Alexandrina CouncilPopulation forecast

Alexandrina Council

Drivers of population change

Alexandrina Council is located on the Fleurieu Peninsula, which lies south of Adelaide and is separated from the state capital by the southern Mount Lofty Ranges. Australia’s longest river, the Murray, ends its journey here. Its settlement pattern consists of a number of historic towns along the southern coastline with urban development stretching from Goolwa in the east to Port Elliot in the west. The remainder of the council area is predominantly rural with one larger regional centre, Strathalbyn, located in the north east. Smaller townships include Mount Compass, nestled in the Mount Lofty ranges; Middleton, located between Goolwa and Port Elliot, and Milang, on the shore of Lake Alexandrina in the east. Rural land uses include viticulture, cropping and dairying, but tourism is also a significant industry.

Development history

European settlement dates from the late 1830s. Growth took place from the 1840s when the township of Goolwa developed as a riverport, transporting grain, wool and produce to and from New South Wales and Victoria. Land was used mainly for sheep and cattle grazing, with some general farming. Expansion took place into the late 1800s, until river trade decreased. Significant development took place from the 1950s, particularly from the 1980s, including tourist and holiday accommodation. The population of the Council area gradually increased from less than 14,000 in 1991 to about 26,500 in 2011.

Migration patterns

The natural amenity of the region and its proximity to Adelaide act as significant drivers for growth. In recent years, population growth in Alexandrina has been well above the average for South Australia. The region has long been a destination for retirement migrants and other lifestylers, particularly the coastal towns in the southern part of the municipality. In common with most parts of regional Australia, Alexandrina loses young adults to Adelaide, other parts of Australia and overseas, who often move for employment, education or lifestyle reasons.

Historical migration flows, Alexandrina Council, 2011-2016

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.

Housing role and function

A dual housing market operates in Alexandrina. This consists of retirees (typically 55-69 years) and families with children aged 0-9 years. In general, the coastal strip is favoured by retirees attracted to the natural amenity of the region. While some retirees may be moving into their former holiday homes on a permanent basis, more recent years have seen the growth of retirement and lifestyle villages catering to this housing market.

In contrast, towns in the northern part of Alexandrina have good transport links into Adelaide and therefore are increasingly becoming part of the wider commuter belt. This, combined with relatively affordable home owning opportunities, means that in-migration of families is more predominant in the north.

In addition, due to its role as a holiday and retirement destination, dwelling vacancy rates in Alexandrina are higher than average. There are significant variations in vacancy rates across the municipality, with rates highest in the coastal towns where many of these dwellings operate as holiday or second homes. For example, around half of the dwellings in Middleton and District were vacant at the 2016 Census.

Housing supply

Due to the differences in role and function, as well as variations in residential land supply, population and housing outcomes are quite different across the municipality. Signficant residential opportunities have been identified in Strathalbyn Town and Hindmarsh Island - Mundoo Island. From the early 2020s, the planned Goolwa Growth Area is assumed to be developed, and this will significantly increase residential development opportunities to the north of the existing Goolwa township. In constrast, rural areas and small townships are assumed to experience modest growth. Overall, Alexandrina’s population is forecast to increase to approximately 36,900 in 2041.

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