Canberra journey to work explorer

1. Specify journey start locations

Add: Region
and/or Suburb
and/or Location

2. Specify journey end locations

Add: Region
and/or Suburb
and/or Location

3. Specify year and options

Census year: 2011 2016 2021
Summarise by: Journey start region
Journey end region
Show: Journey counts in a table

4. Run

Journeys to work



the results

About Canberra journeys to work explorer

This web page allows you to see how many journeys started from and ended at pairs of locations in Canberra on census day in 2021, 2016 and 2011.

As part of the census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collect information about the journey to work of Australians on the day of the census. Read their summary of the national journey to work data from the 2021 census for more information.

The data collected includes the start and end locations of journeys to work, available at a resolution of the ABS's "Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2), which roughly corresponds to a suburb in most of Canberra.

For example, here's part of the 2021 SA2 boundaries showing Parliament House as part of the SA2 area known as "Parkes South":

You can see and zoom into the 2021 ACT SA2 boundaries using the ABS map tool. The SA2 boundaries used for the 2011 and 2016 census may be slightly different (for example, for the 2011 census, the area covered by the Airport was named Majura) but can also be displayed using that map tool.

How to use

At least one starting and one ending location must be chosen. Any number of additional locations can also be chosen. Locations can be chosen in any of 3 ways, any of which may be combined:

By default, the count of journeys for each pair of suburbs (each suburb in the starting locations matched to each suburb in the ending locations) are shown, along with totals for each suburb (starting and ending) and a overall journey count total. You can also just show totals for each starting and ending region.

By default, a table showing the results "pops up" over the map, which can be removed by pressing [ ESCAPE ] or by pressing the close button. The table shows the highest counts with a darker blue background. Counts where the starting and ending location are the same are shown with a yellow background.

Lines are drawn on the map showing journey start and end locations: the darker the line, the more journeys.

The URL is updated when you press the [ Show Journeys ] button: this URL can be bookmarked, copied or shared.


You may find some of the information counter-intuitive, or at least at odds with oft-stated objectives of transport planning in Canberra by politicians in particular and in general by people not forced to use public transport. You may be surprised that so many journeys to work don't follow paths to "central" locations.

For example, of the 226,736 journeys to work represented by this data, less than half (107,055) end in one of the major centres of the town centres (Belconnen/Gungahlin/Phillip/Greenway/Weston) or central area employment "hot spots" (Civic/Acton/Russell/Barton/Parkes South): more people travel to Fyshwick than Barton, more to Garran than Acton or even Parkes South, and more to the Kingston/Griffith area than Russell. About the same number travel to the Airport/Majura area as Acton and Russell combined.

Journeys to locations not planned to be serviced by the tram and frequently ignored in public transport conversations, but as can be seen, even these few destinations are used by tens of thousands of commuters every day:

Transport needs are not simple - we live complex lives and have many and diverse reasons for travel which extend way beyond a commute to work. Except for a lucky and healthy few, living in Canberra without access to a car will increase stress and exacerbate economic and social isolation and disadvantage. Yet the current public transport planning is focussed on reducing travel speed on a single, already well-served route. A shared fleet of autonomous cars, providing on-demand, 24x7, door-to-door transport is very likely in Canberra's transport medium-term future, but until then, it is incumbent on transport planners to do all they can to provide as near universal access to transport as their budgets will allow.


The maps are supplied by OpenStreetMap thanks to the work of their many volunteer contributors.

The maps are rendered and overlayed using the OpenLayers library, again the work of many volunteers.

The census data is supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Linda Skiller from the Census Data team was particularly helpful with advice on accessing and using the journey to work data.

Brendan Halloran provided great assistance in providing an initial copy of the data, and this web page was initially inspired by the work he did showing that most Canberreans live too far from public transport stops, making current public transport inaccessible for many.

This web page and accompanying code was authored by Kent Fitch. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.