By HARRY CLARKE
FROM Middle Ridge in Toowoomba, to Mitchell in the west and Mount Colliery down on the New South Wales border, populations recorded in the 2021 Census have risen throughout the Darling Downs, Maranoa and Southern Downs.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which carries out the Census, combines the Darling Downs (excluding Toowoomba city) and Maranoa as one of its “Statistical Areas” and found the region’s population has risen by 2 percent since 2016 to a total of 128,662 residents.
And the gender percentages are exactly even – with 50 percent males and 50 percent females.
In the Darling Downs capital of Toowoomba, the number of residents in the local government area has risen by nearly 8 percent since 2016 to 173,204.
Other centres which have grown notably since 2016 include the Western Downs towns of Chinchilla and Miles, which have both increased in population by 7 percent since 2016. The populations of those towns are now 7,068 and 1,874 respectively.
In nearby Wandoan the population has gone up a staggering 18 percent to 666 residents, as the town swells to accommodate an influx of resource industry workers.
Growth in the Western Downs local government area as a whole has been more modest – up 1 percent. The region’s most populous town of Dalby has increased by only 39 residents to 12,758 since 2016.
In the Maranoa local government area, encompassing Roma and surrounds, the population has grown by 1 percent to 12,825.
In a sign of growing numbers in the region’s more remote, rural areas, the overall regional increase comes despite marginal decreases in population in the towns of Roma, Mitchell, Injune, Surat and Wallumbilla.
There was a 3 percent population increase in the Southern Downs council area.
Like Maraona, there were slight decreases in the major centres of Warwick and Stanthorpe, suggesting the growth has come in the smaller localities and outlying areas.
Earlier this month the Caller reported on how Stanthorpe’s tourism industry is bouncing back following a major hit throughout the pandemic, with anecdotal evidence that plenty of new faces in the younger demographics were moving to the area.
The only part of the Darling Downs and Maranoa area which has had a decrease in population is around Goondiwindi, where there have been decreases in the local government area (-3 percent) and within the Goondiwindi township (-2 percent).