There are eight capital cities in Australia, each of which function as the seat of government for the state or territory in which they are located. Melbourne was the initial capital following the 1901 Federation of Australia. In 1927, the seat of national government was moved to the newly created city of Canberra, which continues to serve as the national capital.

Each capital city hosts the judicial, administrative and legislative functions for their jurisdiction. In the case of the states and internal territories, their capital cities also happen to be the most populous city in their respective jurisdiction.

The Australian external territory of Norfolk Island has its official capital at Kingston, although this acts merely as the administrative centre of government; its de facto capital is Burnt Pine.[1]

State and Territory Capitals of Australia
Jurisdiction Capital City Population[2] State/Territory Population[3] Date of statehood Capital since Image
Australia and
Australian Capital Territory
Canberra 435,019 403,468 Must remain a territory as per s.125 of the Australian Constitution [N 1] 1913
View of Civic from Mount Ainslie, with Telstra Tower in the background
New South Wales Sydney 5,029,768 7,759,274 1788 1788
Victoria Melbourne 4,725,316 6,179,249 1851 1851
The Melbourne skyline on the Yarra River
Queensland Brisbane 2,360,241 4,848,877 1859 1860
Brisbane's CBD, with the Story Bridge in the foreground
Western Australia Perth 2,022,044 2,558,951 1829 1829
View of Perth CBD skyline
South Australia Adelaide 1,324,279 1,713,054 1836 1836
View of Adelaide Skyline
Tasmania Hobart 224,462 517,588 1825 1826
View of the Hobart downtown district and Mount Wellington from Constitution Dock
Northern Territory Darwin 145,916 245,740 Has not attained Statehood[N 2] 1911
View of Darwin CBD


  1. ^ Although the ACT has its own government, it remains a territory ultimately under Commonwealth rule.
  2. ^ in 1911, South Australia transferred responsibility for governing the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth Government of Australia. It was granted self-governance in 1978, however the Northern Territory is still considered a territory under Commonwealth rule, not a state.


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