New South Wales facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsNew South Wales
|Slogan or nickname||The First State
The Premier State
|Motto(s)||Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites
(Newly Risen, How Brightly You Shine)
Other Australian states and territories
|Demonym||New South Welshman|
|• Governor||David Hurley|
|• Premier||Gladys Berejiklian (LP)|
|• Established as Colony||26 January 1788|
|• Responsible government||6 June 1856|
|• Became Australian state||1 January 1901|
|• Australia Act||3 March 1986|
|• Total||809,444 km² (5th)
312,528 sq mi
|• Land||800,642 km²
309,130 sq mi
|• Water||8,802 km² (1.09%)
3,398 sq mi
|• Population||7,704,300 (1st)|
|• Density||9.62/km² (3rd)
24.9 /sq mi
|• Highest point||Mount Kosciuszko
2,228 m (7,310 ft)
|Gross state product
|• Product ($m)||$486,482 (1st)|
|• Product per capita||$67,841 (3rd)|
|Time zone(s)||UTC+10 (AEST)
(Lord Howe Island)
(Lord Howe Island)
|• House seats||48/150|
|• Senate seats||12/76|
|• ISO 3166-2||AU-NSW|
|• Fish||Blue groper
|• Mineral or gemstone||Black Opal|
|• Fossil||Mandageria fairfaxi|
|• Colours||Sky blue
New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. It has a coast line with the Tasman Sea on its east side. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2014[update], the estimated population of New South Wales was 7.5 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 4.67 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.
The Colony of New South Wales was founded as a penal colony in 1788. It originally comprised a more than half of the Australian mainland with its western boundary set at 129th meridian east in 1825. In addition, the colony also included the island territories of New Zealand, Van Diemen's Land, Lord Howe Island, and Norfolk Island. During the 19th century, most of the colony's area was detached to form separate British colonies that eventually became New Zealand and the various states and territories of Australia. However, the Swan River Colony has never been administered as part of New South Wales.
Lord Howe Island remains part of New South Wales, while Norfolk Island has become a federal Territory, as have the areas now known as the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory.
Aborigines (indigenous people)
The prior inhabitants of New South Wales were the Aboriginal tribes who arrived in Australia about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. Before European settlement there were an estimated 250,000 Aboriginal people in the region.
The Wodi Wodi people are the original custodians of the Illawarra region of South Sydney. Speaking a variant of the Dharawal language, the Wodi Wodi people lived across a large stretch of land which was roughly surrounded by what is now known as Campbelltown, Shoalhaven River and Moss Vale.
The Bundjalung people are the original custodians of parts of the northern coastal areas.
1788 British settlement
The European discovery of New South Wales was made by Captain James Cook during his 1770 survey along the unmapped eastern coast of the Dutch-named continent of New Holland, now Australia. In his original journal(s) covering the survey, in triplicate to satisfy Admiralty Orders, Cook first named the land "New Wales", named after Wales. However, in the copy held by the Admiralty, he "revised the wording" to "New South Wales".
The first British settlement was made by what is known in Australian history as the First Fleet; this was led by Captain Arthur Phillip, who assumed the role of governor of the settlement on arrival in 1788 until 1792.
After years of chaos and anarchy after the overthrow of Governor William Bligh, a new governor, Lieutenant-Colonel (later Major-General) Lachlan Macquarie, was sent from Britain to reform the settlement in 1809. During his time as governor, Macquarie commissioned the construction of roads, wharves, churches and public buildings, sent explorers out from Sydney and employed a planner to design the street layout of Sydney. Macquarie's legacy is still evident today.
During the 19th century, large areas were successively separated to form the British colonies of Tasmania (proclaimed as a separate colony named Van Diemen's Land in 1825), South Australia (1836), Victoria (1851) and Queensland (1859). Responsible government was granted to the New South Wales colony in 1855. Following the Treaty of Waitangi, William Hobson declared British sovereignty over New Zealand in 1840. In 1841 it was separated from the Colony of New South Wales to form the new Colony of New Zealand.
Charles Darwin visited Australia in January 1836 and in The Voyage of the Beagle (chapter 19 of the 11th edition) records his hesitations about and fascination with New South Wales, including his speculations about the geological origin and formation of the great valleys, the aboriginal population, the situation of the convicts, and the future prospects of the country.
1901 Federation of Australia
At the end of the 19th century, the movement toward federation between the Australian colonies gathered momentum. Conventions and forums involving colony leaders were held on a regular basis. Proponents of New South Wales as a free trade state were in dispute with the other leading colony Victoria, which had a protectionist economy. At this time customs posts were common on borders, even on the Murray River.
Travelling from NSW to Victoria in those days was very difficult. Supporters of federation included the NSW premier Sir Henry Parkes whose 1889 Tenterfield Speech (given in Tenterfield) was pivotal in gathering support for NSW involvement. Edmund Barton, later to become Australia's first Prime Minister, was another strong advocate for federation and a meeting held in Corowa in 1893 drafted an initial constitution.
In 1898 popular referenda on the proposed federation were held in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. All votes resulted in a majority in favour, but the NSW government under Premier George Reid (popularly known as "yes–no Reid" because of his constant changes of opinion on the issue) had set a requirement for a higher "yes" vote than just a simple majority which was not met.
In 1899 further referenda were held in the same states as well as Queensland (but not Western Australia). All resulted in yes votes with majorities increased from the previous year. NSW met the conditions its government had set for a yes vote. As a compromise to the question on where the capital was to be located, an agreement was made that the site was to be within NSW but not closer than 100 miles (161 km) from Sydney, while the provisional capital would be Melbourne. Eventually the area that now forms the Australian Capital Territory was ceded by NSW when Canberra was selected.
Early 20th century
In the years after World War I, the high prices enjoyed during the war fell with the resumption of international trade. Farmers became increasingly discontented with the fixed prices paid by the compulsory marketing authorities set up as a wartime measure by the Hughes government. In 1919 the farmers formed the Country Party, led at national level by Earle Page, a doctor from Grafton, and at state level by Michael Bruxner, a small farmer from Tenterfield.
The Great Depression, which began in 1929, ushered in a period of political and class conflict in New South Wales. The mass unemployment and collapse of commodity prices brought ruin to both city workers and to farmers. The beneficiary of the resultant discontent was not the Communist Party, which remained small and weak, but Jack Lang's Labor populism. Lang's second government was elected in November 1930 on a policy of repudiating New South Wales' debt to British bondholders and using the money instead to help the unemployed through public works. This was denounced as illegal by conservatives, and also by James Scullin's federal Labor government. The result was that Lang's supporters in the federal Caucus brought down Scullin's government, causing a second bitter split in the Labor Party. In May 1932 the Governor, Sir Philip Game dismissed his government. The subsequent election was won by the conservative opposition.
By the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the differences between New South Wales and the other states that had emerged in the 19th century had faded as a result of federation and economic development behind a wall of protective tariffs. Labor returned to office under the moderate leadership of William McKell in 1941 and remained in power for 24 years. World War II saw another surge in industrial development to meet the needs of a war economy, and also the elimination of unemployment.
Labor stayed in power until 1965. Towards the end of its term in power it announced a plan for the construction of an opera/arts facility on Bennelong Point. The design competition was won by Jørn Utzon. Controversy over the cost of what would eventually become the Sydney Opera House became a political issue and was a factor in the eventual defeat of Labor in 1965 by the conservative Liberal Party led by Sir Robert Askin. Sir Robert remains a controversial figure with supporters claiming him to be reformist especially in terms of reshaping the NSW economy. Others though, regard the Askin era as synonymous with corruption with Askin the head of a network involving NSW police and SP bookmaking (Goot).
In the late 1960s a secessionist movement in the New England region of the state led to a referendum on the issue. The new state would have consisted of much of northern NSW including Newcastle. The referendum was narrowly defeated and, as of 2010[update], there are no active or organised campaigns for new states in NSW.
Askin's resignation in 1975 was followed by a number of short lived premierships by Liberal Party leaders. When a general election came in 1976 the ALP under Neville Wran were returned to power. Wran was able to transform this narrow one seat victory into landslide wins (known as Wranslide) in 1978 and 1981.
After winning a comfortable though reduced majority in 1984, Wran resigned as premier and left parliament. His replacement Barrie Unsworth struggled to emerge from Wran's shadow and lost a 1988 election against a resurgent Liberal Party led by Nick Greiner. Unsworth was replaced as ALP leader by Bob Carr. Initially Greiner was a popular leader instigating reform such as the creation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Greiner called a snap election in 1991 which the Liberals were expected to win. However the ALP polled extremely well and the Liberals lost their majority and needed the support of independents to retain power.
Greiner was accused (by ICAC) of corrupt actions involving an allegation that a government position was offered to tempt an independent (who had defected from the Liberals) to resign his seat so that the Liberal party could regain it and shore up its numbers. Greiner resigned but was later cleared of corruption. His replacement as Liberal leader and Premier was John Fahey whose government secured Sydney the right to host the 2000 Summer Olympics. In the 1995 election, Fahey's government lost narrowly and the ALP under Bob Carr returned to power.
Like Wran before him Carr was able to turn a narrow majority into landslide wins at the next two elections (1999 and 2003). During this era, NSW hosted the 2000 Sydney Olympics which were internationally regarded as very successful, and helped boost Carr's popularity. Carr surprised most people by resigning from office in 2005. He was replaced by Morris Iemma, who remained Premier after being re-elected in the March 2007 state election, until he was replaced by Nathan Rees in September 2008. Rees was subsequently replaced by Kristina Keneally in December 2009. Keneally's government was defeated at the 2011 state election and Barry O'Farrell became Premier on 28 March. On 17 April 2014 O'Farrell stood down as Premier after misleading an ICAC investigation concerning a gift of a bottle of wine. The Liberal Party then elected Treasurer Mike Baird as party leader and Premier. Baird resigned as Premier on 23 January 2017, and was replaced by Gladys Berejiklian.
- See also: Demographics of Sydney and Demographics of Australia
The estimated population of New South Wales at the end of June 2016 was 7,725,884 people.
The principal ancestries of New South Wales's residents (as surveyed in 2011) are:
- 25.0% Australian
- 24.2% English
- 7.4% Irish
- 6.0% Scottish
- 4.3% Chinese
62.9% of NSW's population is based in Sydney.
|NSW rank||Statistical Area Level 4 and 3||Population 30 June 2014||10 year growth rate||Population density (people/km2)|
|2||Newcastle and Lake Macquarie||368,131||9.0||423.1|
|4||Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle||264,087||16.2||12.3|
|7||Mid North Coast||212,787||9.2||11.3|
|9||New England and North West||186,262||5.3||1.9|
|11||Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven||146,388||10.4||21.8|
|13||Far West and Orana||119,742||0.3||0.4|
|New South Wales||7,518,472||10.4||13.0|
|NSW rank||Significant Urban Area||Population 30 June 2014||Australia rank||10 year growth rate|
|2||Newcastle - Maitland||430,755||10||11.3|
|11||Bowral - Mittagong||37,495||47||9.6|
|14||Nowra - Bomaderry||35,383||51||13.4|
|16||Nelson Bay - Corlette||27,135||62||16.0|
|19||Morisset - Cooranbong||23,694||67||12.1|
|23||Forster - Tuncurry||20,706||74||6.4|
|27||Kurri Kurri - Weston||17,241||87||11.2|
|32||St Georges Basin - Sanctuary Point||13,657||104||15.9|
|New South Wales||7,518,472||N/A||10.4|
Passage through New South Wales is vital for cross-continent transport. Rail and road traffic from Brisbane (Queensland) to Perth (Western Australia), or to Melbourne (Victoria) must pass through New South Wales.
The majority of railways in New South Wales are currently operated by the state government. Some lines began as branch-lines of railways starting in other states. For instance, Balranald near the Victorian border was connected by a rail line coming up from Victoria and into New South Wales. Another line beginning in Adelaide crossed over the border and stopped at Broken Hill.
Railways management are conducted by Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink which maintain rolling stock. Sydney Trains operates trains within Sydney while NSW TrainLink operates outside Sydney, intercity, country and interstate services.
Major roads are the concern of both federal and state governments. The latter maintains these through the Department of Roads and Maritime Services, formerly the Roads and Traffic Authority, and before that, the Department of Main Roads (DMR).
The main roads in New South Wales are
- Hume Highway linking Sydney to Melbourne, Victoria;
- Princes Highway linking Sydney to Melbourne via the Tasman Sea coast;
- Pacific Highway linking Sydney to Brisbane, Queensland via the Pacific coast;
- New England Highway running from the Pacific Highway, at Newcastle to Brisbane by an inland route;
- Federal Highway running from the Hume Highway south of Goulburn to Canberra, Australian Capital Territory;
- Sturt Highway running from the Hume Highway near Gundagai to Adelaide, South Australia;
- Newell Highway linking rural Victoria with Queensland, passing through the centre of New South Wales;
- Great Western Highway linking Sydney with Bathurst. As Route 32 it continues west as the Mitchell Highway then as the Barrier Highway to Adelaide via Broken Hill.
Other roads are usually the concern of the RTA and/or the local government authority.
Kingsford Smith Airport (commonly Sydney Airport, and locally referred to as Mascot Airport or just 'Mascot'), located in the southern Sydney suburb of Mascot is the major airport for not just the state but the whole nation. It is a hub for Australia's national airline Qantas.
Other airlines serving regional New South Wales include:
- Regional Express (also known as Rex);
- Virgin Australia (formerly known as Virgin Blue Airlines).
The state government through Sydney Ferries operates ferries within Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River. It also has a ferry service within Newcastle. All other ferry services are privately operated.
Spirit of Tasmania ran a commercial ferry service between Sydney and Devonport, Tasmania. This service was terminated in 2006.
Private boat services operated between South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales along the Murray and Darling Rivers but these only exist now as the occasional tourist paddle-wheeler service.
Geography and ecology
New South Wales is bordered on the north by Queensland, on the west by South Australia, on the south by Victoria and on the east by the Tasman Sea. The Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory form a separately administered entity that is bordered entirely by New South Wales. The state can be divided geographically into four areas. New South Wales' three largest cities, Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, lie near the centre of a narrow coastal strip extending from cool temperate areas on the far south coast to subtropical areas near the Queensland border.
The Illawarra region is centred on the city of Wollongong, with the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and the Sapphire Coast to the south. The Central Coast lies between Sydney and Newcastle, with the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers regions reaching northwards to the Queensland border. Tourism is important to the economies of coastal towns such as Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Nowra and Port Macquarie, but the region also produces seafood, beef, dairy, fruit, sugar cane and timber.
The Great Dividing Range extends from Victoria in the south through New South Wales to Queensland, parallel to the narrow coastal plain. This area includes the Snowy Mountains, the Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands, the Southern Highlands and the South West Slopes. Whilst not particularly steep, many peaks of the range rise above 1,000 metres (3,281 ft), with the highest Mount Kosciuszko at 2,229 m (7,313 ft). Skiing in Australia began in this region at Kiandra around 1861. The relatively short ski season underwrites the tourist industry in the Snowy Mountains. Agriculture, particularly the wool industry, is important throughout the highlands. Major centres include Armidale, Bathurst, Bowral, Goulburn, Inverell, Orange, Queanbeyan and Tamworth.
There are numerous forests in New South Wales, with such tree species as Red Gum Eucalyptus and Crow Ash (Flindersia australis), being represented. Forest floors have a diverse set of understory shrubs and fungi. One of the widespread fungi is Witch's Butter (Tremella mesenterica).
The western slopes and plains fill a significant portion of the state's area and have a much sparser population than areas nearer the coast. Agriculture is central to the economy of the western slopes, particularly the Riverina region and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area in the state's south-west. Regional cities such as Albury, Dubbo, Griffith and Wagga Wagga and towns such as Deniliquin, Leeton and Parkes exist primarily to service these agricultural regions. The western slopes descend slowly to the western plains that comprise almost two-thirds of the state and are largely arid or semi-arid. The mining town of Broken Hill is the largest centre in this area.
One possible definition of the centre for New South Wales is located 33 kilometres (21 mi) west-north-west of Tottenham.
The major part of New South Wales, west of the Great Dividing Range, has an arid to semi arid climate. Rainfall averages from 150 millimetres (5.9 in) to 500 millimetres (20 in) a year throughout most of this region. Summer temperatures can be very hot, while winter nights can be quite cold in this region. Rainfall varies throughout the state. The far north-west receives the least, less than 180 mm (7 in) annually, while the east receives between 700 to 1,400 mm (28 to 55 in) of rain.
The climate along the flat, coastal plain east of the range varies from oceanic in the south to humid subtropical in the northern half of the state, right above Wollongong. Rainfall is highest in this area; however, it still varies from around 800 millimetres (31 in) to as high as 3,000 millimetres (120 in) in the wettest areas, for example Dorrigo. Along the southern coast, rainfall is heaviest in winter due to cold fronts which move across southern Australia. While in the far north, around Lismore, rain is heaviest in summer from tropical systems and occasionally even cyclones.
The climate in the southern half of the state is generally warm to hot in summer and cool in the winter. The seasons are more defined in the southern half of the state, especially as one moves inland towards South West Slopes, Central West and the Riverina region. The climate in the northeast region of the state, or the North Coast, bordering Queensland, is hot and humid in the summer and mild in winter. The Northern Tablelands, which are also on the north coast, have relatively mild summers and cold winters, due to their high elevation on the Great Dividing Range.
Peaks along the Great Dividing Range vary from 500 metres (1,640 ft) to over 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) above sea level. Temperatures can be cool to cold in winter with frequent frosts and snowfall, and are rarely hot in summer due to the elevation. Lithgow has a climate typical of the range, as do the regional cities of Orange, Cooma, Oberon and Armidale. Such places fall within the subtropical highland (Cwb) variety. Rainfall is moderate in this area, ranging from 600 to 800 mm (24 to 31 in).
Snowfall is common in the higher parts of the range, sometimes occurring as far north as the Queensland border. On the highest peaks of the Snowy Mountains, the climate can be subpolar oceanic and even alpine on the higher peaks with very cold temperatures and heavy snow. The Blue Mountains, Southern Tablelands and Central Tablelands, which are situated on the Great Dividing Range, have mild to warm summers and cold winters, although not as severe as those in the Snowy Mountains.
The highest maximum temperature recorded was 49.7 °C (121 °F) at Menindee in the west of the state on 10 January 1939. The lowest minimum temperature was −23 °C (−9 °F) at Charlotte Pass in the Snowy Mountains on 29 June 1994. This is also the lowest temperature recorded in the whole of Australia excluding the Antarctic Territory.
|Climate data for New South Wales|
|Record high °C (°F)||49.7
|Record low °C (°F)||-5.6
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
- See also: Protected areas of New South Wales
New South Wales has more than 780 national parks and reserves covering more than 8% of the state. These parks range from rainforests, waterfalls, rugged bush to marine wonderlands and outback deserts, including World Heritage areas.
The Royal National Park on the southern outskirts of Sydney became Australia's first National Park when proclaimed on 26 April 1879. Originally named The National Park until 1955, this park was the second National Park to be established in the world after Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. Kosciuszko National Park is the largest park in state encompassing New South Wales' alpine region.
The National Parks Association was formed in 1957 to create a system of national parks all over New South Wales which led to the formation of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1967. This government agency is responsible for developing and maintaining the parks and reserve system, and conserving natural and cultural heritage, in the state of New South Wales. These parks preserve special habitats, plants and wildlife, such as the Wollemi National Park where the Wollemi Pine grows and areas sacred to Australian Aboriginals such as Mutawintji National Park in western New South Wales.
As Australia's most populous state, New South Wales is home to a number of cultural institutions of importance to the nation. In music, New South Wales is home to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australia's busiest and largest orchestra. Australia's largest opera company, Opera Australia, is headquartered in Sydney. Both of these organisations perform a subscription series at the Sydney Opera House. Other major musical bodies include the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Sydney is host to the Australian Ballet for its Sydney season (the ballet is headquartered in Melbourne). Apart from the Sydney Opera House, major musical performance venues include the City Recital Hall and the Sydney Town Hall.
New South Wales is home to several major museums and art galleries, including the Australian Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, the Museum of Sydney, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sydney is home to five Arts teaching organisations, which have all produced world-famous students: The National Art School, The College of Fine Arts, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and the Conservatorium of Music (now part of the University of Sydney).
New South Wales is the setting and shooting location of many Australian films, including Mad Max 2, which was shot near the near the mining town of Broken Hill. The state has also attracted international productions, both as a setting, such as in Mission: Impossible II, and as a stand-in for other locations, as seen in The Matrix franchise, The Great Gatsby and Unbroken. 20th Century Fox operates Fox Studios Australia in Sydney. Screen NSW, which controls the state film industry, generates approximately $100 million into the New South Wales economy each year.
Images for kids
New South Wales Parliament House
The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an important tourist attraction for New South Wales.
Aerial view of mixed crops near Coolamon
The Hunter Valley is known for its vineyards and wineries.
The Sydney Cricket Ground at the 4th Australia vs India test, 2004
New South Wales Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.