A study has compared 752 small Australian towns and crowned the 36 at the top of the pack.

The study was published by The Australian, and saw demographer Bernard Salt consider criteria such as unemployment, diversity, median income, technical skill, and education across the 752 towns in his mission to declare the best of the best in each Australian state and territory.

More specifically, Salt looked at towns that:

  • Earn more than $1,282 per a week household median income
  • Less than 5.1 per cent unemployment
  • More than 15 per cent attained university education
  • More than 36 per cent with technical (trade) skill
  • More than 12 per cent workforce owner/manager
  • No less than 14 per cent born overseas
  • At least 17 per cent volunteer
  • At least 14 per cent provide unpaid care e.g., for example to a relative
  • More than 59 per cent have no long-term health condition
  • More than 6.5 hours per a week in unpaid domestic housework

Salt’s findings revealed a town in each state and territory that was “drawn from a list of 36 finalists that survive most of the filters”, and ultimately declared to be a step above the rest.

  • For Queensland, Tamborine Mountain came out on top.
  • For the Northern Territory, it was Nhulunbuy.
  • For South Australia, Mount Barker.
  • Western Australia, Dunsborough.
  • Victoria, Bright.
  • Tasmania, Legana.

And last but not least, Kiama took the trophy for New South Wales, as well as bragging rights as “the standout overall.”

“In the modern era, say the 2020s and beyond, I think that small-town Australia, as well as big-city Australia, needs skills, training, entrepreneurial energy and a measure of diversity to deliver opportunity to residents,” said the founder of The Demographics Group.

“What this exercise shows is that across the continent Australians want more or less the same thing when it comes to living in a small town,” Salt went on, “proximity to a capital or major regional city; a tree-change or a sea-change environment; or, better still, all three criteria jammed within a single location offering views and amenity.”

“The Australian people have spoken through their collective responses to the census,” he concluded. “Sea-change, tree-change, big-city access and a place of their own within which they can potter about and steadily make improvements, while also volunteering, caring, and making a contribution to the local community. That is the essence of small-town Australia.

“And of course if you disagree with the metrics and the logic of how the top towns were selected, then you are free to jump on to the website, access the model, switch around the metrics and come up with your own version of Australia’s top towns. Hours of fun for the demographically inclined.”

Images: Getty

This article first appeared on Over60.