Canterbury City CouncilEconomic profile lite

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Name origin

Canterbury is named after an early property in the area, which was named after a place in England.

Location and boundaries

Canterbury City is located in Sydney’s south-western suburbs, about 17 kilometres from the Sydney GPO. Canterbury City is bounded by the Strathfield, Burwood and Ashfield Council areas in the north, the Marrickville Council area in the east, Rockdale and Hurstville Cities in the south, and Bankstown City in the west.

Included areas

Canterbury City encompasses the suburbs of Ashbury (part), Belfield (part), Belmore, Beverly Hills (part), Campsie, Canterbury, Clemton Park, Croydon Park (part), Earlwood, Hurlstone Park (part), Kingsgrove (part), Lakemba, Narwee (part), Punchbowl (part), Riverwood (part), Roselands and Wiley Park.

Land use

Canterbury City is predominantly a residential area, but also has substantial industrial and commercial areas. The City encompasses a total land area of about 34 square kilometres.


Canterbury City is served by the South Western Motorway and the Bankstown and East Hills railway lines, with stations at Belmore, Campsie, Canterbury, Hurlstone Park, Lakemba, Narwee, Punchbowl and Wiley Park.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the late 1700s when the first land grant was made just north of the Cooks River. Land was used mainly for timber-getting, farming and grazing. After 1831 settlement spread along the Cooks River, with roads and crossings made in several places. The river became a popular place for boating, picnics and swimming. In 1841 the Australian Sugar Company built a sugar mill near the Cooks River to produce molasses and spirits. Other industries and trades such as boiling down works and tanneries were built along the river later. Development was slow until the 1880s, due largely to a lack of public transport and good roads and bridges. In 1881 the population was about 1,200. During the 1880s the population doubled as land was subdivided, reaching 2,400 in 1891. In 1895 the railway was expanded from Sydenham to Belmore, which spurred development, especially in the suburbs closest to Sydney, such as Hurlstone Park and Croydon Park. Rapid population growth occurred in the early 1900s, with the population growing from just over 4,000 in 1901 to 79,000 in 1933. Most of the housing stock was built in this period. The railway was extended from Belmore to Bankstown in 1909. Further development followed with the gradual provision of water, electricity and sewerage. Tram lines were laid in the 1920s, making the City more accessible. In 1931 the East Hills railway line was opened. Development slowed appreciably after the Depression. By 1947 the population was over 99,000. Development spread southwards, reaching the suburbs furthest away from Sydney, such as Riverwood and Narwee by the 1950s. By 1961 the population had grown to nearly 114,000, and to over 130,000 by 1971. The population began to stabilise from the 1970s, with about 129,000 people in 2006. The population increased slightly from 2006, rising to about 137,000 in 2011.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the Canterbury area were the Dharug Aboriginal people.

Regional labour force

Canterbury City labour force region is defined by an area in which a significant percentage of workers travelled into Canterbury City to work at the 2011 Census. Details of this calculation and a list of areas included can be found in the data notes.