Suburbs and localities (Australia)

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Suburbs and localities are the names of geographic subdivisions in Australia, mainly for address purposes. The term locality is used in rural areas, while the equivalent in urban areas is suburbs.[1] This Australian usage is very different from the common American and British usage of the word "suburb", which typically means a smaller, frequently separate residential community outside, but close to, a larger city. The Australian usage is closer to the American or British use of "district" or "neighborhood", and can be used to refer to any portion of a city. As a result, while a Londoner would never refer to the City of London as a "suburb", and a New Yorker would not use the word to describe midtown Manhattan, an Australian would naturally speak of the Central Business District of Sydney as being one of Sydney's "suburbs".

Sometimes locality is used to refer to both localities and suburbs, and they are also called address localities.[2] Localities are also known as towns and rural districts in Victoria, such as on various maps.[3] Note that they are different from the Australian Bureau of Statistics's Urban Centre Localities, a statistical division. Localities have also been used to refer to locations within cities that are not designated suburbs.

Localities and suburbs are determined and declared by the local council in which they are located based on criteria such as community recognition and is subject to approval by the state's geographical names board, which, however, does not prevent them from overlapping several local government areas since they are otherwise independent from them. In unincorporated areas, localities are declared by the relevant state authority.

Localities have existed in the past as informal units, before the 1996 decision of the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping and the Committee for Geographical Names in Australasia (CGNA) to name and establish official boundaries for all localities and suburbs.[4] Recently, there has been a process to formally define their boundaries and to gazette them, which is almost complete. In March 2006, only South Australia and the Northern Territory had not completed this process.[5] Postcodes now relate closely with the boundaries of localities.[6]

The CGNA's Gazetteer of Australia recognises two types of locality: bounded and unbounded. The definition of bounded localities include towns, villages, populated places, local government towns and unpopulated town sites, while unbounded localities include place names, road corners and bends, corners, meteorological stations, ocean place names and surfing spots.[7]

See also


  1. "Glossary of designation values in the Geographical Names Register" (PDF). Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  2. "Determining suburbs and localities in NSW" (PDF). Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. August 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  3. "Central Goldfields Shire Town and Rural District Names and Boundaries" (PDF). July 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  4. "Place names—localities and suburbs" (PDF). Department of Environment and Resource Management. December 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  5. "Naming of Northern Territory Suburbs and Localities". Archived from the original on 11 March 2008.
  6. "Postcode boundaries". Archived from the original on 18 February 2008.
  7. "Feature Codes used by the Gazetteer of Australia". Geoscience Australia. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
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