Australia is divided politically into six States and two Territories, and they each contain unique traditions, products, land and people.
The States and Territories and their capital cities are briefly introduced below:
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – Canberra
Canberra is Australians federal capital and the largest inland city. Set in a broad valley in the southern tablelands of New South Wales, Canberra is a well-planned lakeside city of parklands, impressive restaurants, beautiful bushland and leafy suburbs.
Canberra is only a three-hour drive or a 45-minute flight south-west of Sydney. It also has many national attractions, embassies and public buildings.
Canberra is famous for:
- Parliament House.
- The Australian War Memorial.
- The National Gallery of Australia.
- The National Museum of Australia.
New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney
New South Wales was founded in 1788 and is Australia’s oldest State. A narrow coastal plain runs the length of its east coast, and to the west is the Great Dividing Range. Beyond these mountains, a tableland gradually slopes down to the plains, which cover most of the State.
NSW is the most populous State in Australia and the majority of its inhabitants live along the coast. It has dense forests, alpine country, deserts, and golden-sand beaches and bays on its North Coast.
Australia’s longest river system, the Murray-Darling, is situated in this State. Agriculturally, it is renowned for its sheep and beef industry.
NSW is famous for:
- The Sydney Opera House.
- The Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- The Blue Mountains – a national park about 1 hour west of Sydney.
- The 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Northern Territory (NT) – Darwin
The Northern Territory is known for its central desert called the ‘Red Centre. Here the main features are rugged ranges and huge rocks rising from the desert plains. Uluru is the most famous geological feature in this region (see 1.3).
Its capital, Darwin, was established in 1869 as a port and center for the cattle industry. Mineral wealth and tourism has become more important, and Darwin has recently reinvented itself as a gateway to Asia.
NT is famous for:
- Kakadu National Park – east of Darwin.
- Alice Springs – a town in the centre of the Northern Territory.
- Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park – south-east of Darwin.
Queensland (Qld) – Brisbane
Queensland takes up about one-fifth of the area of Australia. Along its eastern coastline are fertile plains and river valleys, which sometimes extend up to 200 km inland. The Great Dividing Range borders these lowlands, stretching south from Cape York to the New South Wales border. The major agricultural products are tropical fruits, beef and wool.
Brisbane was settled by convicts in 1825 and with its sunny days and tropical weather, is now the fastest growing city in the country. Just north of Brisbane are the beaches and coastal lakes of the Sunshine Coast, and to the south is the popular tourist destination of the Gold Coast.
Queensland is famous for:
- The rainforests of Far North Queensland.
- The Great Barrier Reef – a more than 2000 km long coral reef north-east of the mainland.
- Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world, which is 3 hours north of Brisbane.
- The Gold Coast – a major holiday destination for national and international tourists.
South Australia (SA) – Adelaide
South Australia is the driest state in Australia. Over 60% of it is desert and 80% receives less that 250mm of rain per year. However, the south-east corner has dry warm summers and cool wet winters. Along with rich fertile soil, this climate makes it ideal for growing wine.
Adelaide contains some of Australia’s best-preserved Victorian architecture. This gracious city is surrounded by parkland and is home to 73% of South Australians.
SA is famous for
- The Barossa Valley – a major wine producing area north-east of Adelaide.
- Coober Pedy – a opal mining town that is underground.
- The Adelaide Festival of Arts – held every 2 years.
Tasmania (Tas) – Hobart
Tasmania was cut off from mainland Australia at the end of the last Ice Age, and it is known for its unique wildlife, wilderness and unspoiled beauty. The National Parks, including Crater Lake, offer one of the last great wilderness areas in the world. Tasmanias capital, Hobart was settled in 1803, when the British government in Sydney sent soldiers and convicts there to protect their sealing and whaling interests.
Tasmania has substantial farming, forestry, hydro-electric, mining and fishery industries.
Tasmania is famous for:
- Port Arthur Historic site – this once was a prison for convicts.
- The Sydney to Hobart yacht race – starts every year on Dec 26th.
- Its bushwalking – many wilderness areas are only accessible on foot.
Victoria (Vic) – Melbourne
Victoria is the smallest state on Australia’s mainland. It was settled in 1834 and separated from New South Wales in 1851 at the time when gold was discovered at Ballarat and Bendigo.
Victorias High Country offers some of the best mountain climbing on the continent.
Its capital, Melbourne offers colonial and contemporary architecture, beautiful botanical gardens, excellent restaurants and a vibrant artistic community. Melbourne is also very involved in sport and holds the most famous horse race in Australia, the Melbourne Cup.
Victoria is famous for:
- The goldfields of central Victoria.
- Sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup horse race.
- The Great Ocean Road – spectacular coastal scenery west of Melbourne.
Western Australia (WA) – Perth
Western Australia is the largest state in the Commonwealth. Its capital of Perth, is situated on the Swan River, and has all the modern conveniences, while maintaining a friendly and relaxed feeling. White sandy beaches are only minutes from the city.
Rich farmland lies inland as well as some of the world’s most productive goldfields. The states wealth also includes iron, nickel, wheat and wool, which is mostly exported from the port of Fremantle.
The north of the state boasts a wide variety of attractions including gorges and national parks, the stunning beaches of Broome, and the friendly dolphins of Monkey Mia.
WA is famous for:
- Kalgoorlie – a gold mining town located in the Western Desert.
- Ningaloo Marine Park – 1,200 km north of Perth.
- Fremantle (20mins south-west of Perth).