Australia has a highly dispersed population, with settlements across the entire country, as opposed to just in Sydney and Melbourne.
True, 98% of the population is in the cities, but there are a fair few places of note.
New South Wales
Newcastle, "the Capital of the Hunter (Valley)". Known for coal exports, Silverchair and Andrew Johns. Interestingly, many areas around Newcastle are named after towns/cities in the north-east of England. At least we've got no geordies!
But we do have Windale, known as the bogan breeding ground of Australia, and also boasts the dirtiest street in the country.
The Central Coast, a region consisting of a number of cities and suburbs between Sydney and Newcastle stretching along the coast; accordingly, it has a lot of beaches. It was officially counted as part of Sydney or Newcastle before 2005. Home of the pop punk group Short Stack.
The largest inland city in New South Wales: is either Maitland (pop 60 000) or Wagga Wagga (46 000). Wagga is technically smaller, but some (Waggarinos, or whatever noun they have for themselves) say Maitland doesn't count due to being only 20 minutes inland.
Also: Maitland is not part of Newcastle. This is important, you'd be surprised how often people need to be reminded of this.
Neither city has the title: Albury is the largest. Or it would be, anyway, if it weren't split into two cities since it straddles the NSW-Victoria border. Due to this, its official population is about the same as Wagga.
Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia. Home of the Golden Guitar (with no strings) and... very little else. Annually overrun with tourists during the Country Music Festival, but an utter hole the rest of the year. Once regaled as 'The City of Lights' for being the first city in Australia to have widespread electrical lighting, but virtually forgotten in modern times. Large enough that people notice it, small enough that people realise there's very little to notice. So Okay, It's Average in city form, as some call it.
And suddenly one of the Rotary Clubs in Tamworth being called 'First Light' makes SO much sense. The More You Know.
Unfortunately, many Australians don't know about the former, even though it was the only time the war actually reached Australian soil.
It was also a member of the USSR for three days when storms cut off communication with other capitals and local revolutionaries wrongly assumed that meant all the groups in other cites were moving. Three days later, the state was given back when contact was restored. One assumes that considerable embarrassment ensued.
People from Darwin are actually called Darwinians - unfortunately, Australian census results do not track how many of them actually believe in evolution...
Home to a lot of crocodiles (and therefore crocodile-based tourist attractions, including jumping ones). They are partly the reason that no one swims in Darwin and surrounds (the other part being box jellyfish which are prevalent in the Wet Season, which is the time of year anyone would want to swim).
Darwin is tropical (or semi-tropical, depending on who you ask) and so has two seasons rather than four: the Wet and the Dry. They have similar maximum temperatures (around 32 degrees C) but the Wet is much more humid. Locals love both for different reasons (six months of clear blue skies in one, spectacular tropical storms in the other).
A popular tourist destination, particular during the Dry Season. This is partly due to its proximity to Kakadu (a World Heritage site) and Litchfield National Parks, and to Arnhem Land.
Alice Springs, that place right in the middle of the map. Surprisingly larger and greener than most tourists expect, but it's still mainly a tourist and Aboriginal town, frequented for travellers on their way to Uluru.
Jabiru, a small town two hours from Darwin, is notable for being a uranium mining town in the middle of a national park (Kakadu to be exact).
Victoria in general tries to have a sporting event going on every weekend, with most of these occurring in Melbourne; some events are held elsewhere, such as Philip Island's hosting of the Grand Prix.
Important suburbs that frequently appear in media: St Kilda (famous for the beach and music Mecca Esplanade Hotel) and the separate city of Geelong, which will soon get absorbed into the Melbourne metro area.
On that note there's the state's second largest city, Geelong (which is a wholly separate city, as much as some would like to convince you otherwise). It's best known for being between Melbourne and the coast, having an oil refinery, having the state's largest prison, and being royally screwed over during the gold rush when false maps were printed showing Melbourne closer to the goldfields.
Bendigo, Victoria's largest inland city. A major regional centre, it is well known for its history and heritage, being located in the goldfields region of the state. It is a major tourist destination due to its grand heritage listed buildings, both public and private, monuments, statues and gardens.
Also the origin of the children's rhyme "Copy Cat from Ballarat". The towns are have essentially the same history (save Ballarat being the site of Australia's only armed rebellion), and the debate over which is larger is confusing as the 2006 Census states Ballarat, but later unofficial sources state Bendigo.
Sale, a reasonably large and well-serviced city located virtually in the middle of nowhere. Its primary draw is its status as the home of the Royal Australian Air Force's primary training school, the former site of a major oil mining operation, and a swing bridge that still operates. Also, it has a ridiculous number of lakes and wetland reserves.
Adelaide, the city of churches. Every second block is a church as a result of the migration of people of a lot of faiths in the city's early history. Every other one is used as a dumping ground for the mob... the water is horrible (no thanks to the upstream states, QLD, VIC & NSW), but the women look fantastic. It's practically surrounded by the source of most of Australia's wine. note Barossa Valley and Mc Laren Vale,just to name two of the biggest.. It is also said to be the serial murder capital of the world, and why not? Nothing much else happens there.
And they throw great motor sports events (Pre 1995 Australian Grand Prix [F1], and the Adelaide 500 [V8 Supercars]. Melbourne received the rights to host the Grand Prix in 1995; Adelaideans are still a little bit bitter about that, although some other Adelaideans point out that the bitterness is misdirected due to the fact that the Adelaide city council didn't even bother trying to keep the Grand Prix in the first place because they were so sure Adelaide would be picked again when the contract was up.
As of late, they've also had quite the problem with bikie gangs.
Port Lincoln, mostly only notable for having the largest natural harbour in the world, which is an export hub for the Eyre Peninsula region. Quite a pretty place, though the region is prone to bushfires. Also produced Makybe Diva, one Australia's most famous racehorses, who won the Melbourne Cup three times in a row. Not to mention Tunarama, in which one of the main events is the hammer throw of a fake tuna (it used to be a real frozen tuna, but it started to be too expensive).
Coober Pedy, the archetypical Australian mining town. A common tourist stop on the way to Alice Springs, it's literally surrounded by slag piles, mine shafts (watch your step!) and machinery, and has mining-related attractions including an underground hotel (with swimming pool). A large producer of Australian opal (the rainbow kind), they've even found a plesiosaur skeleton made of opal. Almost the entire town's population live underground to try to escape the extreme heat.
Snowtown, a small suburb north of Adelaide. It's notorious for a serial killer hiding his bodies in barrels of acid in a bank vault.
Mt Gambier, the second biggest population centre in South Australia. It's located roughly halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, built around and on the slope of a extinct Maar-complex volcano of the same name, and is the home of the blue lake, a 70-metre-deep lake which turns a spectacular, almost-glowing cobalt blue in the summer. Also present is the Umpherston, a botanical garden inside a very deep sinkhole. It's also the only place in South Australia where the tap water tastes any good.
Perth, the city synonymous with bogans. Famous for being really far away from every other capital city, it's also home to AC/DC.
Technically Fremantle (Freo) is home to AC/DC, specifically Bon Scott.
Perth is actually classified as the most isolated city in the world. Probably not helped (psychologically) that the Easterners still think that the locals live in tin sheds.
And Perthians are quite proud of the fact that they're closer to Singapore than they are to Sydney
People live in Perth?
I'm surprised, too. I thought it was just Bogans.
I thought they were called Perthlings, not Perthians.
Fremantle (Freo) as mentioned above is the home of AC/DC. Also the home of the America's Cup (yachting) for a while in the early 80's. You may recognise Freo if you've read "Stark" by Ben Elton too.
Geraldton, an ever-growing city 400km north of Perth that to Western Australians themselves is considered the bogan capital.
Bunbury, a small city that is rapidly becoming a southern suburb of Perth.
Albany, the forgotten city in WA. Lovely coastline, but freezing weather. Also the site of Australia's last whaling station, which closed in 1972 and is now open for tours.
Margaret River, a town several hours south of Perth famous for its surf break, its food and - most importantly - its wine.
Wittenoom, a small town in the middle of nowhere, famous (or infamous) for 3 things: a blue asbestos mine where almost all the workers caught asbestosis, a book about said mine called Blue Murder, and a song about said mine by Midnight Oil called Blue Sky Mine.
Technically, it's not even a town anymore: it was degazetted in 2007 (so is therefore no longer referenced on maps or roadsigns◊), it has no government services and no electricity. Strangely enough, eight people still live there. Nobody can seem to decide, though, if there's a dangerous amount of asbestos particles around or not, hence signs like this◊ are around the town.
Broome, a small town that's popular with tourists due to its winter weather, history and large numbers of crocs. It was also bombed by the Japanese in World War II.
It is the biggest pearling site in Australia.
Kalgoorlie, the home of the largest open-pit gold mine in Australia. It's the REAL reason why the eastern states don't want the west to secede.
Marble Bar, known for being so incredibly hot that even the rest of Australia gapes in horror. It's known to get up to 49.2 °C (121 °F) and got a world record of the longest consecutive days of maximum temperatures that went for 160 days.
Brisbane, the Queensland capital. Home of the Brisbane Broncos and the Brisbane Lions. The try-hard of the eastern capitals, attempting to match Melbourne and Sydney and failing every time, or at least that's what those southern snobs like to think. Clearly it's so backward that the Mexicans (aka people from South of the Queensland/New South Wales border) keep coming there to live.
Toowoomba, the state capital of drug use and homophobia. Whoo! The third largest inland city in Australia. Famous for suggesting the use of recycled water... reclaimed from sewage for drinking water. Also famous for its annual festival "Carnival Of Flowers," though a lengthy drought and a flash-flood or two forced its cancellation once or twice.
Rockhampton, halfway between Brisbane and Cairns. Also, something to do with cattle. And the Tropic of Capricorn.
Ipswich, Brisbane's drunken, inbred sister... which is still better than Toowoomba.
Fun fact: large portions of Ipswich sit over an old abandoned coal mine (it's why the city was founded in the first place). The mine was abandoned because of an accident that set the coal seam on fire. And its still burning (or smouldering anyway. It doesn't get much oxygen).
Also the home of RAAF Base Amberly, the largest, by area, military airfield in the Southern Hemisphere, though a lot of that is empty space). Former home of the F-111 fighters.
Bundaberg, the home of Bundaberg Rum and...not much else.
Mount Isa, aka The Isa, once the largest city in the world by area according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Situated in the state's northwest and supported by mining lead, silver, copper and zinc. The town's skyline is dominated by incredibly tall chimneys, which have a semi-iconic status in representations of the place.
Townsville, the 'capital city' of the North folks. Sure, Cairns has all the shopping... and tourists... and fun things. But Townsville's still bigger! It's also the largest garrison city in Australia, and it's home to a hideous hotel dubbed the 'sugar shaker' after its shape. It also has a huge white stick-figure of The Saint painted on the giant stone hill in the middle of town. If you need to ask why anyone would rappel down a sheer cliff to paint a giant stick-figure, you don't understand Australia.
Also notable as the hometown of Julian Assange.
Caboolture. ...Er, Keith Urban comes from there. Which lead to a number of people thinking the Urban Country Music festival was named for him (it wasn't). One of the local schools is the only state-run school with an original classroom still in use as a classroom since its foundation 140 years ago.
The Fraser Coast, home to the twin cities of Maryborough and Hervey Bay. The former is known for being the birthplace of Mary Poppins creator P. L. Travers and its large proportion of historical buildings, while the latter is known for its status as a tourist magnet and whalewatching spot, and for having far too many roundabouts. The region also includes Fraser Island.
Charleville, the largest town in the south west of the Outback region. The only reason it ever makes the news is when it floods. The only people that go there are tourists going to see the the Cosmos Centre and the Bilby Centre at National Parks and Wildlife.
The Gold Coast has almost all the major theme parks in Australia: Dream World, Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World, and Wet n' Wild Water World. It used to have hot meter maids in golden bikinis, but instead it now has oldies and screaming brats. Its also the setting of H2O: Just Add Water .
Weipa. You know those small towns in American programs that all band together to cover up a murder? Here's the Land Down Under's one. Weipa is a mining town, a military base, and has crocs, sharks, snakes and spiders... and they all eat each other. And they sell guns at the corner shop. Lots of guns. Pretty much everyone who lives there is either military or mining, and are rumoured to make a sport of shooting people in boats.
Birdsville, a tiny south-western Queensland town with a population of around 120 people. It's home of one of the more prominent Horse racing events in Australia.
Only one city/town in this area, Canberra, the capital city of Australia. It is located "exactly" between Sydney and Melbourne ("exactly" here being an apparently new definition of the word that Sydney snuck in when no-one was looking), after a spat over which should be the capital of Australia. In the end, the wise decision of "neither" was made and politics was quarantined off into the middle of nowhere so it wouldn't spread. Since most Australian cities are on the coast, building yet another coastal one as the capital would have taken business away from the others, so it was placed about 100 km inland. It's shaped like a giant bullseye, and it has roundabouts fucking everywhere. It was built on a sheep paddock (which should tell you something about Australia), and is generally considered boring due to being a pre-built city that lacks the population to fill it out. Lake Burley Griffin, the giant lake at the centre of the city, is completely artificial. The wildlife doesn't seem to mind, though.
Though actual residents of Canberra like it just fine, dislike for Canberra is so great among other cities that it is common for people who live and work there to refer to themselves as being from Sydney or Melbourne, even if they haven't live in those cities in the last decade.
Many Sydneysiders agree that Canberra, as a whole, is a hole, most likely due to the fact it is dead boring, except for Questacon. Another possible reason why the capital is considered a hole by them; they are upset Sydney isn't the capital.
Likewise, many Melbournians consider Canberra a hole due to its lack of sporting events and places to bet on sporting events while extremely drunk; this is probably due to the perceived crappiness of Casino Canberra compared to Melbourne's own Crown Casino. The other main gripes are that apparently Canberra has no bars worth a damn if one desires something other than weak indie beer, bogan-filled clubs staffed with bouncers running other "business" on the side, and a distinct lack of variety in ethnic food restaurants. Like Sydney, they're probably also pissed that Melbourne's not the capital.
Pretty much the main thing Canberra has going for it is its ridiculous number of universities concentrated within a tiny area - it's practically a ten minute drive between any two of the biggest three, the University of Canberra, the Australian Catholic University, and the Australian National University. The practical upshot is a fairly elevated sense of rivalry; on Facebook, flame wars between UC and ANU students are incredibly common on both universities' profiles, with neither side proving that their "superior" education is paying off. note UC's Hate Dumb does have the slight edge in that, unlike ANU's, it doesn't sink so low as to claim that ANU students will have no future. A common hobby for students who actually know better is to sit back and laugh as the mutual Hate Dumb makes both universities look like shit.
The other biggest draw of Canberra is the Australian War Memorial. In addition to keeping a vast roll of the names of all Australians killed in action in war (it spans two entire walls in a really long courtyard), it maintains a large collection of interesting and rare (often exclusive) wartime paraphernalia in varying states of repair.
Prostitution is (to an extent) legal in Canberra with at least one brothel (in Fyshwick). Enjoy!
Prostitution is legal everywhere in Australia, although brothels are only legal in Vic, NSW, ACT and Qld.
There's this city called Hobart... people from Hobart are called Hobartians. They are definitely not called Hobastards. (Well, not by themselves, anyway.)
And also a little place called Port Arthur, home to the single largest mass shooting with a single assailant in recorded history. Until 2011, anyway.
Christmas Island, apparently the birthplace of Sonic the Hedgehog. Formerly used as a processing area (read: prison camp, at least during the Howard government) for refugees.
Norfolk Island, a.k.a. the Australian territory that demands passports for locals from the mainland and would tell the rest of us to sod off if they could. Oddly and totally unconnected to this is that it was founded by the mutineers from the HMS Bounty.
The Whitsunday Islands are considered to be the place for island resorts in Australia. They're home to utterly gorgeous beaches and really swanky resorts.
Rottnest Island, named after the adorable little quokkas that roam the island after they were mistaken for giant rats. It's used as a cheap and affordable holiday resort for Perth families, and a place to have fun at Schoolie's Leaver's Week. Has the sad history of being an 'Aboriginal Prison'.
Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island and home to dingo attacks and clueless tourists. The two are not unconnected.
King Island, smack in the middle of Bass Strait. It's surrounded by shipwrecks, including a piece of the Shannon that ran aground about twenty metres off the coast, so one can run out and play on it if one wants to. Known for its dairy and cows. Lots and lots of cows, making lots of milk, cheese and beef. Also, kelp.
Many of the beaches are inaccessible by road, so if you want to go, you have to hike. A school that sends students to the affectionately termed (by the students, at least) "KI" has them seeing more of the island than locals do in their lives.