Master-planned estates (MPEs) are becoming increasingly important as a part of the urban residential fabric and have recently begun to attract significant research attention. Our purpose in this article is to engage critically with understandings of MPEs in the Australian context and to suggest the need for both empirical and theoretical expansion. We draw on research into MPEs in the greater metropolitan region of Sydney and demonstrate how their diverse form and character exceed the parameters of Blakely and Snyder's (Fortress America, Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1997) influential and widely cited typology of MPEs. In a move towards grounded theory, we build from our findings to suggest three key analytical dimensions needed to equip us with more complex and theory-driven understandings of the dynamic forms and outcomes of MPE development: (i) the nature of governance mechanisms that produce MPEs and govern life within them; (ii) the influence of housing market context on the unfolding of urban social processes; and (iii) the dynamic and lived nature of neighbourhood and community. These dimensions are aimed to capture the empirical multiplicity of the MPE phenomenon and to broaden the scope of the theoretical and analytical frameworks that have characterised their Australian analysis. It is our hope that analysis framed by these expanded dimensions can contribute to the project of enhancing theoretical recognition of urban difference under distinct and unique Australian conditions.