Australia's ongoing construction boom has pushed the number of long-term cranes being visible on city skylines to a new record high, according to a new report by Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB).

The company's Q3 2018 RLB Crane Index has identified a record 735 cranes, which equates to an increase of 52 cranes, compared to the last count undertaken six months ago. 

Melbourne saw a strong 35 crane increase to reach a new peak of 192, overtaking the record levels reached six months earlier. Meanwhile, Sydney continues to decline from the peak reach in Q4 2017, driven by a declining residential sector.

"While we see Australian construction activity reach record numbers, the civil infrastructure sector has been the star performer of the past six months with a 67 per cent increase in crane numbers," said Stephen Mee, RLB global chairman. 

"From a base of 15 cranes on infrastructure projects in Q2 2018, 19 new cranes were erected on projects during the past six months, while nine were dismantled, giving a total of 25 cranes for Q3 2018. 

"With the announcement of many significant infrastructure projects by both federal and state governments, the anticipation is for civil cranes to maintain current levels or rise further." 

According to the RLB Crane Index, Melbourne has seen 13 new civil cranes added from a base of zero six months ago, while Sydney has seen a rise from eight to 11 cranes. Key infrastructure projects in these cities include the Metro Tunnel's enabling works in North Melbourne, the Westgate Tunnel project, Sydney Metro's Bella Vista station, and the West Connex tunnel at Kingsgrove. 

For FY 2018, total construction in Australia reached $221 billion, with strong increases seen in the non-residential and engineering construction sectors of 11.1 per cent and 20.7 per cent respectively. In addition, the non-residential index continued its rise, increasing seven per cent, to a new high of 180. 

According to the Index, Sydney continues to be the main driver of the crane count - of the 735 cranes sighted across the country, 321 were in Sydney, 192 in Melbourne, 72 in Brisbane, 37 in Perth, 24 on the Gold Coast, 23 in Canberra, 16 in both Adelaide and the Sunshine Coast, 12 in Newcastle, and four in Hobart.