Australian States and Territories

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    Australia has six states and two territories. Well, kinda: The Commonwealth itself goes a lot further, spreading to places like Norfolk Island in the Pacific, Christmas Island a few thousand kilometres southeast of Indonesia and a whole chunk of Antarctica, but everyone just thinks of Australia as just the mainland and Tasmania much like Americans think the United States is just the contiguous 48 states. However, this is with good reason: The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have a much larger population and have much more political power than the smaller Australian territories elsewhere. But, for the sake of the article, we'll just say Australia has two territories. Good? Good.

    Australia was first settled as one colony, but this eventually branched out into six. These six, after settling some minor border problems, became Australia's six states, although the Northern Territory was part of South Australia. The six colonies became the six states during Federation on January 1, 1901, forming a unified government, but each of the states still retain a local culture which is still distinctive today, although somewhat less than earlier in history, thanks to a blending of them all as well as Americanisation. The quickest points of distinction to find are whether they prefer the National Rugby League or the Australian Football League and, oddly enough, the name for a certain kind of sausage, which has a different name in every state. Just one of those things.

    (For the record, the "Sausage" we're talking about is the unsliced form of what Americans would call "Bologna").

    Warning, the following article consists of people bragging about their own state and bashing others. Expect the following stereotypes: Sydneysiders are yuppies, Adelaide is dull as dishwater (which is, incidentally, safer to drink than what comes out of the tap there), Queenslanders are rednecks, Tasmanians are inbred, Melburnians are snobs and everywhere else is backwards and ignored. All of these stereotypes are completely and uniformly accurate. Unless it's your state, in which case, they're all wrong.

    New South Wales

    The oldest, most populous, most economically powerful, and most culturally important state, New South Wales is essentially the strongest state. Most of Australia's media and business is centred in New South Wales, particularly in Sydney. New South Wales includes the home of Australian country music, Tamworth, but also the home of the Australian Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, so it is quite diverse. Here they play rugby league, with 10 out of the 16 NRL teams in the state, and they call that particular sausage "devon". A Kiwi outpost has been established here in Bondi. With Australia's biggest mosque in Sydney (the Gallipoli Mosque), and Wollongong home to the biggest Buddhist temple in the entire Southern Hemisphere (the Nan Tien Temple), NSW can be considered a centre of much of Australia's multiculturalism.

    Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, is the largest and most populous city in Australia, and boasts two of Australia's most well-known landmarks - the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House. It's informally the business capital of Australia, with an infamously large central business district. Said business district, and indeed most of the city, is also infamously difficult to navigate courtesy of bewildering arrays of one way streets, curved roads and a near total lack of basic city grid structure. This is an artifact of the extremely haphazard way the oldest city in Australia was built on hilly terrain around a deeply-indented harbour. Believe it or not, it used to be worse. Sydney is also an extremely ethnically mixed city, with large populations of Asian, Middle Eastern, Polynesian, and African residents. The biggest ethnic group remains Anglo-Celtic Australians, but Sydney has it all, from Burmese to Brazilians, French to Fijians, Tongans to Turks. Since the Federal Government's official adoption of the policy of multiculturalism in the '70s, there has only been one major outbreak of ethnic violence in Sydney, the Cronulla Riots in one of the beach-side suburbs.

    North of Sydney is the oft-overlooked Newcastle - the second largest city in New South Wales, but mostly overlooked because it is pretty boring compared to Sydney, despite the fact that it is the largest coal-exporting harbour in the world (we can taste your excitement to hear that). It was also the location of one of Australia's extremely rare earthquakes and, more recently, suffered serious flooding, again quite unusual for the drought-ridden Australia. (Read: God hates Newcastle.) However, people from Newcastle are called Novocastrians, which sounds far more awesome convoluted than Syndeysiders.

    South of Sydney is the spectacularly-sited but even-more-often overlooked city of Wollongong. Contrary to the beliefs of a certain section of the community, the name "Wollongong" is not derived from a Chinese name meaning "Five Dragon Temple".

    We also think we should mention Wagga Wagga here, mostly because, well, it's a fun name. It also marks the "border" between Australian Rules Football and Rugby League's traditional territories.

    Locals of Sydney are called Sydneysiders; locals of Newcastle are called Novocastrians. Wagga Wagga doesn't have a fancy name for its citizens; they get by on just living in such an awesomely named place.

    NSW: also occasionally said to stand for Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong, the three cities, right next to each other on the coast, where pretty much everything, the people, the business, the fun, is.


    Melbourne, now capital of Victoria and Australia's second largest city (next to Sydney), can be considered Australia's fashion, culture and sporting centre: a lot of Australian television comes from Melbourne (such as Kath and Kim and much of Australia's TV comedy), and a lot of Australian sport is played in the city, including the Australian Open, the Aussie Grand Prix, the AFL Grand Final, and the horse race that stops the nation, the Melbourne Cup (which also is one of the state's biggest fashion events of the year). It's the home of Australian Rules Football and has 10 out of the 16 AFL teams, and Melbournites remain stoically dedicated to AFL and resist rugby like it's the devil. The other area Melbourne seems to have the upper hand over Sydney in is education, and it's proud of its universities and museums. It's also incredibly multicultural, in part due to waves of immigration from World War Two onwards that keep coming; residents of Melbourne come from anywhere from Germany to Malaysia. Melbourne actually has the third-largest ethnically Greek population of any city in the world, including in Greece. Currently, Melbourne likes to sell itself as the cultural capital of Australia. It is, however, worth mentioning that Melbourne was founded by a guy called John Batman and for a while was named Batmania.

    There is an intense rivalry between New South Wales and Victoria, or, more accurately, between Sydney and Melbourne; originally due to a dispute at federation over which city ought to be the national capital, Sydney having the historical benefit of being the first Australian city settled, but Melbourne being larger and the cultural hub Sydney wasn't at the time. Or maybe it dates back to when Melbourne (then "Port Philip") wanted to break away from Sydney and become self-governing, and Sydney didn't want it to. As the two cities were relatively evenly matched and neither could handle the other being capital, the solution was to build Canberra "halfway" between the two (actually, very much closer to Sydney). Unsurprisingly, both Sydney and Melbourne still like to think of themselves as the number one city of Australia.

    You could be forgiven for wondering if there's anything to Victoria but Melbourne, and not without cause: the city sprawls like an overweight hippopotamus. Outside Melbourne, Victoria is one of the greenest states and small regional centres like Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat are notable. Many such small towns originated in mid-19th century gold rushes to Australia, of which Victoria got the lion's share, such that in ten years Victoria's population grew by almost seven times. Large numbers of Asian, especially Chinese, immigrants arrived in these rushes, so Victoria has a relatively large Asian population.

    Outside Victoria, the stereotype the state and Melbourne in particular have is that of being a bit 'old glory' and a bit up themselves—artsy, lazy, thieves, and will take any excuse to avoid a good day's work (although that last one could apply to any Aussie). It's worth noting that Sydneysiders stereotypically have a bit of an issue with Melbournians. Residents of Adelaide also have an issue with Melbournians, however their perceived Melbourne/Adelaide rivalry is largely one-sided and goes unnoticed by most Melbournians.

    And that particular sausage is called "strasbourg", presumably after the city.


    The third most populous state, Queensland is beaten only by Western Australia in terms of highest population growth rate. Here you will find most of Australia's tropical areas, such as the Australian rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, but also the areas of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, which are Australia's summer vacation spots, known for its surfing and theme parks. Here they play rugby as well, and have an intense rivalry with New South Wales because of it, coalescing in the NRL State-of-Origin matches (three times a season) which are among the most watched moments on Australian television in any given year. It's 'Devon' in Queensland too, although it varies a bit. Nicknamed "Banana-benders", or more recently "Cane Toads", as that species was first introduced into this state (and has since become a widespread pest). The term "deep north" is sometimes used for Queensland, with many of the same connotations as America's Deep South. Queensland is also often compared to both Florida and California, which we'll let you sort out. Queensland is also infamous for being the retirement destination of choice by many aging Sydneysiders and Melbournians, desiring Queensland's warmer climate. Native Queenslanders refer to these types as 'Mexicans' (south of the border).

    Oh, and Brisbane has an Aussie Rules team that regularly wins Victoria's AFL has 3 premierships in a total of 23 seasons which does not make them exceptionally good Puts them on par with most Victorian sides, especially when their last was in the 2003 season They are over half a century younger than most of the top Vic teams. But don't worry. Melbourne has a Rugby League side that keeps winning our NRL competition because their team was composed of Queenslanders.(well, up until recently... when they were caught doing horrible things to the salary cap).

    Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, likes to think of itself as a very, very large country town. It's known for holding massive fireworks displays at the drop of a hat (see the Riverfire festival, which while a lot of fun and very pretty, represents exactly nothing) and having an insane variety of nightclubs and pubs, largely centred around Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley, and Edward Street in the CBD. Brisbane is also frequently hit by severe tropical storms. The other states never believe us when we say this, as Queensland is known for its weather being beautiful one day and perfect the next.

    Other places of note include the city of Cairns in the far north, home to very large crocodiles and the best marine biology institute in the world, the Daintree, one of the oldest surviving areas of rainforest in the world, and the area of Innisfail, which, when destroyed by a cyclone, raised the price of bananas by several dollars per kilo across large tracts of the southern hemisphere.


    Everyone leaves out Tasmania, the smallest state in size and population. Hobart, its capital, is dwarfed by many cities on the mainland. Except for the pristine, World Heritage forests in the state's west, most mainlanders don't know much about the island or its inhabitants. Tasmanians play Aussie Rules (or rather, watch it, because they don't have a team in the major league) and call that particular sausage "Belgium". Nicknamed "Apple Islanders" or "Taswegians", and often the subject of jokes about inbreeding and locals having two heads. You're more likely to hear older slang in the younger generation in this area, and even then it's still rarer than in the older generation.

    • To a great extent is even more traditionally "British" than the mainland. The great majority of the population is white, Asian people are represented by overseas students at the University of Tasmania in Hobart (the capital), mostly, and the only people of African descent you are likely to see are Somalian refugees only recently offered asylum.
    • Tasmania has a much smaller "Night Life" than the mainland. The only things of note are a state Orchestra, an end of year food festival, a biennial arts festival endeavouring to bring some culture, and being host of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. It is normal for a young person wishing to make a career to move to the mainland (or the Big Island as we call it). Prices are generally lower, apart from food which must be flown in. People who retire traditionally move down south where it's cheaper, peaceful and not too exciting. Sort of like a cold weather version of Florida.
    • Salamanca market, held every Saturday near the State parliament, offers examples of local arts and crafts.
    • The only locally made programs Tasmania has are an antiques show, a fishing show, a travel show inexplicably marketed to Tasmanians, and the local news. Before his retirement the long term newsreader for one station was most popular talent for Tasmania every year in the nationwide TV Week Logie awards.
    • The sausage is called Belgium because once WW 1 started it wasn't popular to keep calling it German sausage, and it was renamed as Belgium in recognition of the country recently occupied by Germany. Still tastes like sausage.
    • Port Arthur, one of the coldest places in the country, and originally where they sent convicts who didn't take the hint and shape up when they were sent to a penal colony to start with, was turned into a tourist trap and museum. Sadly, it is now best known as also the location of one of the worst shooting sprees in history, which led to a dramatic tightening of Australia's gun ownership laws.
    • Tasmania is "roughly" divided into four sections.
      • The South, Hobart and surrounds. Trendy, cosmopolitan, holier-than-thou wankers. Fairly moderate climate.
      • The East Coast/Midlands, Triabunna, St Helens, Bicheno, Swansea (soft S, no Z. For all you British people out there). Consists of two types of people: Those on welfare, and those growing weed. More notorious places include Black Bobs (Full of inbreds) and Rossarden (former mining town, which is so dodgy the police won't go there.)
      • The North. Launceston, Burnie and Devonport. The north west is known for it's bible bashers, and Launceston for it's degenerates and amazing sports people. Generally, the further North West you go the better the infrastructure due to the swinging nature of the electorate.
      • The West Coast: Two types of places, places where people go on holidays and places where people should go on holidays. Places like Strahan etc are known for their touristy thingies. Doesn't mean that it isn't a lovely place. But looking further around you start to see run down mining towns which have become literal ghost towns. And if you dig around even further you find some of the most lovely destinations in Tasmania, with literally not a soul in sight. We could name these places, but we'd have to kill you. Also, some of the wilderness around here is incredibly incredibly dense. A convict escaped here once and ate all his fellow escapees. That's how tough it is.

    South Australia

    The only colony founded without any convicts. South Australia was originally more culturally mixed than the other states, with Cornish and German migrants and a reputation for tolerance and liberalism, but the east coast has since played catch-up thanks to bigger economies attracting more newcomers. Divided into two rough areas, with the border along the theoretical Goyder's Line: South of the line is green, partly thanks to the River Murray, and contains almost all of the state's population (and most of that live in Adelaide, the capital); north of it is pretty much plain, mostly featureless desert, except for Coober Pedy, the famous opal mining town; Woomera, the famous rocket-launching site, and Lake Eyre, Australia's largest lake. This being the desert, of course, it rarely has any water in it, just salt.

    Although Adelaide is seen as a "hole" (a place with little to do) by those outside and inside it (what does happen always happens in the city), it is Australia's fifth largest city, and it is gaining a cultural reputation thanks to the annual Fringe festival. It was also the first Australian city to decriminalise homosexuality in the 70's, leading the now little-used epithet "Yass with poofters" (Yass is a small, very dull country town, which did not at that point have homosexuals, at least not out of the closet.) The combination of this and the Arts/Fringe festival has given the city and its inhabitants something of a reputation of being effete and artsy, and ever so slightly ridiculous with it; the famous cartoonist Bruce Petty characterised this with the phrase, supposedly said by a Festival organiser, "Let's put nonsense back into culture."

    Adelaide is also known as the City of Churches (originally City of Churches and Pubs), presumably because it has a lot of, um, churches, thanks to the variety of denominations which settled Adelaide (and the large number of pubs). It's also well known for the city planning done by Colonel Light, where the city centre is surrounded by beautiful parklands on a (mostly aligned) grid rather than just haphazard urban sprawl, with a distinct lack of one-way streets compared to the other capitals.

    Apparently, thanks to the "water" in the River Murray, Adelaide water is incredibly foul tasting or even toxic to people from the eastern states, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that millions of Queenslanders, Victorians and New South Welshmen use the river before it gets to Adelaide. Here they play Australian rules football, with two AFL teams and the local SANFL league. The sausage is called "fritz" over in South Australia. South Australians are nicknamed "Croweaters".

    It's also a recurring joke that half of Adelaide's population are potential serial murderers, though to be honest it isn't exactly unfounded. (Well, ours are more creative, anyway...) The most publicly known being when bodies were found in a bank vault in Snowtown (actually a hundred-odd miles away on the road to Perth, though it'll become a suburb soon anyway as Adelaide's urban sprawl gets increasingly ridiculous). Perhaps this is why it's said most tourists skip over Adelaide for tourist trap friendly Port Lincoln.

    • Broken Hill: Officially part of New South Wales, Broken Hill has very strong cultural ties to South Australia due to its location. For all intents and purposes, everyone considers Broken Hill as part of SA.

    Western Australia

    The largest state by area, Western Australia is sparsely populated outside the major cities like Perth [the capital] and Kalgoorlie [mining town out in the middle of the desert]. The current resources boom in the North West nicely props up the country's economy. Western Australia could be considered a mining industry with some support services. Interestingly it was also the only colony to specifically ask for convicts back in the day. Due to its distance from the rest of Australia (several hours by plane or a week driving over the featureless Nullarbor plain), Western Australia has mostly kept to itself throughout the years. Here they play AFL as well, with two teams in the AFL and the local WAFL (pronounced "waffle"). They eat the sausage "polony". Western Australians are nicknamed "Sandgropers". Has lots of English immigrants.

    • We don't like the rest of the country, and if they'd let us go, we'd go.
      • Oh great, we have our own Texas.
      • already do.
      • Fun fact: In 1933, over 68% of the population in Western Australia voted for independence. The only reason the state still remained part of the federation was that nobody else noticed.
        • Fun fact: On the year of Federation, while a slim majority of Western Australians voted for inclusion, the state government vehemently lobbied to avoid nationhood and remain a British Colony. The British refused to keep them.
      • We really would go. Believe me, without WA australia would be in DEEP recession right about now, just like the US.
        • Good luck with defence and such a tiny population for such a large 'country.'
        • You avoid doing so because you know that without the rest of Australia, WA would only have one bloodline.
      • Standing joke about WA: A man is flying over to Perth on business. During the journey he gains the attention of a flight attendant and asks, "Excuse me, but how far back should I wind my watch for WA time?" The flight attendant, deadpan, states, "Oh, about ten years."
    • This sandgroper is embarrassed to see that the sections for Tasmania and South Australia have more detail.
      • This troper's more amused by how more than half the WA entry is WA natives griping about how they'd leave if everyone else let them and everyone else either making fun of them for it or egging them on.

    The Australian Capital Territory

    Technically just Canberra, but also includes a part of the Australian Highlands. Here we find the House of Parliament, standing on a hill surrounded by the rings of roads and overlooking the man-made Lake Burley-Griffin. Canberra was built on a sheep paddock in 1908, which early political satirists seized upon with vigour. It is a planned city, and is also known for being somewhat dull, which is possibly why it's the only part of the country where ordinary citizens can purchase fireworks. In many ways, it is (sometimes unfairly) lumped into the category of Southern New South Wales, but it has a distinctiveness which keeps it separate from the surrounding state. Briefly had the license plate slogan "Feel the Power of Canberra", until someone realised that the rest of the country read that as "Feel the Power of the Federal Government". It has it's own government run along state government lines, but as it is smaller than many city councils, it tends to be a little strange. The 'Fresh Sun-Ripened Tomato Party' is currently[when?] in power. Canberra is also Australia's porn capital. Yay Canberra! You can call sausage whatever you like.

    • Notable for its round-abouts.
    • The town of Woden was named by a Norse farmer who named it after the god Odin from Norse mythology.

    The Northern Territory

    Divided roughly into two areas: the north, which is relatively highly populated and includes the capital Darwin, and the rest of the territory, which is sparsely populated except for Yalara, the town closest to Uluru; Alice Springs, the city in the dead centre (literally!) of Australia; Katherine, and Tennant Creek (the other major cities). Contains much of Australia's Indigenous Australian population, especially in Arnhem Land in the Top End. Contains Uluru, the world's largest monolith and sacred site of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara peoples, and the tropical rainforests in Arnhem Land, somewhat under threat due to uranium mining. Nothern Territorians are nicknamed "Topenders" or "Croc-bait".

    Also known for drinking a lot. A "Darwin stubby" is much bigger than anyone else's stubby. A stubby, oddly enough, is not any kind of sausage at all. It is a type of beer bottle.

    Other Territories

    Not much happens in these places. Most Australians don't even remember they exist.

    • Ashmore and Cartier Islands
    • Australian Antarctic Territory: Larger than any other nation's Antarctic Territory, and about as exciting as you'd expect for a giant ice block.
      • Treated as a single unit legally but in fact two, geographically separate areas. The French Antarctic Territory is between them.
    • Christmas Island
    • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    • Coral Sea Islands Territory
    • Heard Island and McDonald Islands
    • Jervis Bay Territory
    • Norfolk Island

    Some of us Aussies also consider New Zealand to be our second-best state (second, of course, to whichever one we happen to live in). Some Sydneysiders think of New Zealand as a suburb, christening it "East Bondi".

    • Which should tell you something about Sydneysiders.
    • It's worth noting that the Colony of New Zealand could have become a state, if it had ratified the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
      • So could Fiji, in fact. Both colonies refused. Isn't history interesting?
      • Also, they have sheep.
        • Lots of sheep.
          • They have 13 times as many sheep as humans.
            • There is a reason this troper is disturbed that New Zealand in Hetalia has a little sheep companion.
    • New Zealand is the country equivalent of a little brother: you have a fair bit in common, you really do kind of like them, and it's your sworn duty to pick on them mercilessly.