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, New South Wales, 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"). Let's be fair - all the states have their good sides. The East Coast states (NSW and Victoria) are cosmopolitan and vibrantly diverse, Queensland is swimming in natural, tropical beauty, Western Australia is a booming economic powerhouse, South Australia basically created the modern 'Australiana' film industry, and Tasmania is blessed with quiet, pristine wilderness. However, be warned, 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, Western Australia is 3 hours and 30 years behind the rest of the country 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 WalesThe 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. Here they play rugby league, with 10 out of the 16 NRL teams in the state, and they call that particular sausage "devon". 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 very diverse. 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. Auburn, in Sydney's west, is the most diverse region in the entire nation. 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
VictoriaMelbourne, 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 18 AFL teams (nine if you don't count Geelong as a Melbourne team), and Melburnians 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. Melbourne has what may be the most awesome founding story of any city ever: It was founded by two guys named John, one of whom came to it on board the Enterprize, and the other of whom was named Batman. In fact, the young settlement nearly wound up being officially named Batmania before they settled on the more prosaic name of the then-current British Prime Minister. 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 and about three quarters of the total population of the state live in it. 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' - Melburnians do tend to exhibit a great nostalgia for some of the city's claims to fame (e.g at the time of Federation, Melbourne was the second largest and second wealthiest city in the British Empire, Melbourne was Australia's first capital city from 1901 to 1927, and Melbourne hosted the first Olympic Games in Australia in 1956) - and a bit up themselves: they're seen as 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 (and vice versa). 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 (when it is noticed, it usually leads to the Adelaidian being patronised about it by the Melbournian). And that particular sausage is called "strasbourg", presumably after the city.
QueenslandThe 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 Alabama, Florida and California, which we'll let you sort out.note John Oliver described it as Australia's most conservative state, although many Australians would consider WA a strong alternate candidate. Much as many Americans think of Texas the same way foreigners think of America, the same could apply to Australians and Queensland. Queensland is also infamous for being the retirement destination of choice by many aging Sydneysiders and Melburnians, desiring Queensland's warmer climate. Native Queenslanders refer to these types as 'Mexicans' (south of the border). There is a bitter on-going feud between those who want daylight savings, and those who don't. Oh, and Brisbane has an Aussie Rules team that
TasmaniaEveryone 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.
South AustraliaThe 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. Within the green portion is the Adelaide Hills, the producers of almost all of Australia's wine, a lot of it very high quality. Although Adelaide is often 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 '70s, 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). South Australians (along with WA, the NT and perhaps Tasmania) generally feel as though they are ignored/forgotten by the big eastern states since they are much more geographically isolated. It's not uncommon for an "Australian tour" by an international music act to consist of shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane only (they may do one in Adelaide or Perth but rarely both, for some reason). Often an Australia wide music festival will have big music acts only perform in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. That doesn't stop anyone complaining about ticket prices when an artist deigns to perform here though.
Western AustraliaThe 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. The CBD of Perth is busy during the day but looks like the apocalypse has happened as soon as the shops close, when then most of the people seem to move to Northbridge (named because it is north of the bridge that goes over the train line and separates the suburb from the CBD) with a decent number of bars and clubs and some amazing restaurants. The rest of the state is mostly desert and mines. Though there are some good wineries in the south-west.
The Australian Capital TerritoryTechnically 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. 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 in power. Canberra is also Australia's porn capital. Yay Canberra! You can call sausage whatever you like.
The Northern TerritoryDivided 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 Yulara, 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. Northern 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. The NT also has an ... interesting newspaper called the NT News (and Sunday Territorian). Often showed last on national news round ups for laughs. It generally only has one of five things on the front page: crocodiles, cane toads, cyclones, chicks or UFOs. It was recently used in a meme, much to the amusement of locals. On the whole the paper is the laughingstock of the country, and looked on with equal parts pride and disdain by Territorians. Although Darwin is a capital city, it is so small (a bit over 100 000 people) that it isn't really counted as such in many contexts (a trait it shares with Hobart and/or Canberra on occasion). It's not uncommon for something to be available in "all capital cities" ... but not Darwin (which serves as something of a Berserk Button to locals). By the way, since the Territory was settled later and more slowly than other places in Australia, its particular brand of Australian English is a mixture of all the others. That sausage is therefore called whatever it is in the state you or your parents came from. (Some households may have two different names if the parents came from different cities.)
Other TerritoriesNot much happens in these places. Most Australians don't even remember they exist.