Australia's states and territories

The Commonwealth of Australia is a federation of states and territories. There are six states and two mainland territories. Canberra is Australia's capital city, and each state and mainland territory has its own capital.

State Capital city
New South Wales (NSW) Sydney
Victoria (Vic.) Melbourne
Queensland (Qld) Brisbane
Western Australia (WA) Perth
South Australia (SA Adelaide
Tasmania (Tas.) Hobart
Territory Capital city
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Canberra
Northern Territory (NT) Darwin

The states

Capital city
New South Wales was the first colony established by the British. Sydney is the capital city of New South Wales and is the nation’s largest city. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House are national icons.
Victoria is the smallest of the mainland states. Victoria’s capital city is Melbourne. Many fine buildings in Victoria were built from the wealth created by the gold rush of the 1850s. Victoria’s icons include the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the 12 Apostles, and the Royal Exhibition Building.
Queensland is the second largest state. Queensland’s capital city is Brisbane. The Torres Strait Islands lie to the north of the state and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef runs along its eastern coast. Queensland has tropical rainforests, temperate coastal areas and an often dry inland.
Western Australia is the largest state. Perth is the capital city of Western Australia. The east of the state is mostly desert, while the south-west is a rich agricultural and wine-growing area. The state is home to many large mining projects. Western Australia’s icons include the Ningaloo Coast, Margaret River, and the Kimberley region.
South Australia has a rugged coastline and many famous wine regions. Adelaide, the capital city, has many examples of fine colonial architecture. South Australia’s icons include the Barossa Valley and the Flinders Ranges
Tasmania is the smallest state, separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. Tasmania’s capital city is Hobart. Much of the island has unspoilt wilderness landscapes. Tasmanian icons include Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur, and the Bay of Fires.
Capital city
The Australian Capital Territory is located between Sydney and Melbourne. It is home to the nation’s capital city, Canberra. Several national institutions are located in Canberra, including Parliament House and the High Court of Australia.
The Northern Territory has a tropical environment in the north of the state and dry red desert in the south. Darwin is the capital city. Northern Territory icons include Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.


Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country protocols

A Welcome to Country is a cultural practice performed by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custodian of the local region, welcoming visitors to their traditional land. This was traditionally performed to ensure visitors had a safe and protected journey during their time on that land.

A Welcome to Country can take place through many forms, including songs, dances, smoking ceremonies or speeches in traditional language or English. A Welcome to Country is usually the first item of proceedings to open an event.

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity to recognise that the gathering is on Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander land; pay respect to Traditional Custodians, particularly Elders past and present; and pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in attendance.

An Acknowledgement of Country is usually delivered as part of the Welcome and Housekeeping at meetings and events. Anyone can deliver an Acknowledgement of Country. At meetings/events, this would generally be done by the Chair or Master of Ceremonies.

These practices are performed to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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Part 1 - Australia and its people

» Australia's states and territories
» Important days for Australians
» Australia's flags and symbols

Part 2 - Australia's democratic beliefs, rights and liberties

» Our democratic beliefs
» Our freedoms
» Our equalities
» Responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship
» Participating in Australian society

Part 3 - Government and the law in Australia

» How do I have my say?
» How did we establish our system of government?
» How is the power of government controlled?
» Who is Australia's Head of State?
» Who are some of Australia's leaders?
» How is Australia Governed?
» What do the three levels of government do?
» What role do political parties play in the way Australia is governed?
» How is the Australian Government formed?
» How are laws made?
» How are laws enforced?
» Criminal offences in Australia

Part 4 - Australian values

» Our values
» Our community

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