Australian regional rivalries

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Australian regional rivalries refers to the rivalries between Australian cities or regions.

Sydney–Newcastle rivalry[edit]

The oldest Australian regional rivalry dating back to 1804. Some people state that Sydney has traditionally been politically right-winged compared to Newcastle being politically centre-left. However, in actual fact almost all NSW Labor premiers have come from Sydney suburbs, and the NSW Labor Party has a long and proud history in Sydney. Newcastle's population was traditionally working class whereas Sydney was home to a mix of people including the working class, politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats. The Royal Australian Navy has been based at Sydney since it was founded. Even after more than 200 years, Newcastle's culture is still very independent from Sydney's culture even though they are only approximately 160 km apart.

Sydney–Melbourne rivalry[edit]

Sydney, New South Wales
Melbourne, Victoria

There has been a long-standing rivalry between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia. The rivalry between the cities was the reason that neither Sydney (the oldest and now largest city) nor Melbourne (the largest city at the time) was chosen as the capital of Australia when the nation was federated in 1901. Because of this disagreement, section 125 of the Australian Constitution specified that Melbourne would initially serve as the seat of government on a temporary basis, while the permanent capital of the new Commonwealth must be located within the area of New South Wales but at least 100 miles from Sydney. This city became Canberra. Melbourne operated as the de facto capital city from 1901 until 1927, when Canberra's historic Parliament House was opened, remaining in use until it was replaced with the current Parliament House in 1988. Various Commonwealth governmental bodies continued to operate principally from Sydney or Melbourne after 1927. Most civil service departments were moved to Canberra in the 1950s, and the High Court of Australia was finally moved from Melbourne to Canberra in 1980.

Rivalry and differences between the colonies was a feature of life in Pre-Federation Australia. There was a real rivalry between the most powerful colonies, New South Wales and Victoria, on trade matters. Both the two largest colonies believed that the new nation should follow their trade model. New South Wales had a policy of free trade where all goods coming that came into the state were not tariffed. Victoria had an opposite policy of protectionism with tariffs imposed on goods coming into the state from other colonies. This rivalry delayed the process of federation; eventually the two colonies agreed that trade between the colonies would be tariff free, but tariffs would be placed on goods from overseas (excluding the British Empire).

Rugby league (NRL) in Australia is traditionally based in Sydney, while Australian rules football (AFL) was invented and traditionally based in Melbourne. While both sports have extended their popularity beyond their own state, the historic and spiritual centre of both sports has remained in Sydney and Melbourne respectively, and neither city has been quick to embrace the other city's dominant football code. There is also an increasing rivalry between the city's two A-League teams, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory FC, with matches between the two sides known as "The Big Blue". Finally, there is also a growing rivalry between the ANZ Championship netball teams the New South Wales Swifts (previously Sydney Swifts) and Melbourne Vixens (previously Melbourne Phoenix). Also, there is a rivalry between the Sydney Kings and Melbourne United in Basketball (NBL).

Sydney, with a population of 5.23 million, is the largest city in Australia, and has been named the world's best city eight consecutive times by Condé Nast Traveler.[1] Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia with a population of 4.94 million, is the current and has been named seven consecutive times world's most liveable city by The Economist.[2] It has been called the fashion,[citation needed] arts,[citation needed] and sporting[3] capital of Australia. On the other hand, Sydney may be called the historic, finance[4] and media capital. While Sydney has been recently overtaken by Melbourne in terms of domestic tourism income,[5] Sydney still remains the leading tourism destination for international tourists.

Founded 47 years after Sydney, Melbourne was established by free settlers, and the colony of Victoria never possessed any convict settlements; however, Sydney's original founding was based upon convicts and was the first settlement of the English in Australia. Today Sydney still maintains the most historic settlement site in Australia, called 'The Rocks'. Melbourne transformed rapidly thanks to the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s, and became Australia's largest and most important city by 1865. This golden age, referred to as 'Marvellous Melbourne', was crushed by the banking collapse and depression of the 1890s, and Sydney overtook Melbourne as the largest Australian city in the early 20th century. Sydney is currently the largest and most populous city in Australia. However, Sydney's growth has been curtailed by policies of the New South Wales government, including restrictions on land release for housing. Sydney's infrastructure development is also hampered by its challenging geography. If current trends continue, Melbourne may become the most populous city in Australia sometime in the mid-21st century.

Queensland and the other eastern states[edit]

Queensland is distant from the main population and political centres of southern Australia, namely Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. At the same time it has long contributed a significant proportion of Australia's most lucrative export commodities, such as coal, beef and sugar. The disparity between Queensland's economic contribution and political influence has long caused tension. The relationship is complicated by the migration since the 1970s of many people from the southern states, who are both welcomed for the economic benefits they bring, and occasionally disparaged as "Mexicans" because they come from "south of the border". This sentiment was epitomised by Joh Bjelke-Petersen's parochialism and frequent promotion of the idea of secession of Queensland from Australia during his term as premier.

Queenslanders, especially north of Brisbane, were marginalised by the "Brisbane Line", a controversial defence proposal allegedly formulated during World War II. Under the proposal, Australia would concede the northern portion of the Australian continent in the event of an invasion by the Japanese. People from the southern states sometimes refer to Queensland as "The Deep North", in allusion to the Deep South of the United States and the socio-political stereotype associated with it. This was notably the case during the 1970s and early 1980s, when Joh Bjelke-Petersen was Premier, and again in the 1990s, when Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party from Queensland became a significant force in Australian politics.

New South Wales–Queensland rivalry[edit]

The rivalry between the states of New South Wales and Queensland goes back over 100 years, stemming from the attitude that New South Wales was the "Mother Colony" while Queensland was viewed as a poorer cousin.[6]

This rivalry has been played out through sport over the years. In Queensland there has been a general ill-feeling over the number of sports people leaving their home state for New South Wales, particularly rugby league football players who left to play for the richer Sydney clubs. These players would then play against Queensland in interstate matches. In 1980, as a solution to this problem, the State of Origin series was created to allow Queensland players to play for their original state, and an immediate stop was put to New South Wales' dominance at the time. This sporting contest played three times a year now exemplifies this rivalry, dominating the media and public attention states during the series.[7]

Also this rivalry has a political component, with Queensland traditionally tending to state-centered conservatism and populist left politics, while New South Wales traditionally tending to classical-liberal conservatism, modern (small-l) liberal centrism, and social democratic left politics.

Australian population as a percentage, 1881–2000

Western Australia and other states[edit]

Western Australia has the largest land area of any state of Australia, encompassing a third of the continent. It is the least densely populated and the furthest removed from the Eastern States centres of population and from the Federal Government's home in the Australian Capital Territory. The state has the fourth largest population of the Australian States and Territories with 9.8% of the national total, and about one-third the population of Victoria and New South Wales. Some Western Australian towns are located closer to its South East Asian neighbours to the North than to cities interstate; the capital Perth is closer to Jakarta than to Sydney or Melbourne. At the same time, it has abundant natural resources and primary industries that contribute a significant part of Australia's economy, particularly in the mining sector. As at June 2006 it contributed 11.7% of the Gross State Product.[8] There is a belief that too much of the wealth of Western Australia is lost to the federal system and redistributed among the Eastern States. Only 6% of the total goods and services tax (GST) allocations to the states and territories is distributed to Western Australia. Many Western Australians believe they are actually subsidising and paying for the other states, which they derisively call "poor states."

Some Western Australians consider their state to be a "forgotten" Cinderella State. Often sporting and concert events bypass the state for financial reasons because of its isolation. Western Australians have long complained of being ignored and / or taken advantage of by the other states and the Commonwealth over political and economical issues. In regards to sport, most animosity is directed to Victoria, whose more powerful Victorian Football League evolved into a pseudo-national league rechristened as the Australian Football League at the detriment to the WAFL and South Australia's SANFL. It was Western Australia who came up with the State of Origin football concept that was so successful in the 1980s and continues to be in the rugby league version.

Western Australia is the most successful cricketing state behind New South Wales yet the state team only debuted in the interstate Sheffield Shield in 1947, 55 years after the other colonies started. WA was only allowed to enter the competition after agreeing to pay the other states. Ill feeling because of the unfair financial burden was somewhat soothed by WA winning the shield in their first season. Such unfair financial conditions were also put onto the ill-conceived Western Reds in the Australian Rugby League. The club was forced to pay for the accommodation and airfares of visiting teams along with their own when they were the greatest travelling club in the league. Though the club performed solidly on the field, financial conditions caused it to fold at the end of 1997. The club's licence and the core of the playing group moved to Melbourne where that new club won the premiership in its second season.

Western Australia was the last colony to agree to join the federation, participating only after pressure from other states. In fact, the state is not mentioned in the preamble to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900) as its support was given too late for the document to be redrafted. On several occasions, secessionism has been seriously proposed and was even formally pursued in a 1933 referendum which received 68% popular support, but to no effect due to the unwillingness of the British parliament to overturn the legislation enabling the formation of the Federation of Australia.

Other regions[edit]

Illawarra and other parts of New South Wales[edit]

The Illawarra region of New South Wales lies only a short distance south of Sydney; however, the socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds of its citizens has allowed for the development of bitter rivalries between the Illawarra and Sydney, the Illawarra and Newcastle, and the Illawarra and Far South Coast.[citation needed]

The Illawarra vs. Sydney Rivalry is founded in historical, political and, for many, personal aspects. The Illawarra northern suburbs centred on Thirroul and Corrimal have seen drastic development resulting from overpopulation in the Sydney Cumberland Basin with many local residents upset about being encroached upon by the metropolis.[citation needed]

This same reason was one of the reasons for the 1885 Charcoal Creek riots (now Unanderra), when 18 homes built by migrants from Sydney were demolished and razed by angry Illawarrian farmers who claimed they were built illegally by "ignorant city siders who don't know our country."[9] The desire of Illawarrians to show differences between themselves and Sydneysiders has shown itself many times. In the early days of the Iraq War, Wollongong Lord Mayor Alex Darling led a delegation to the Consul General of France asking them to accept Wollongong's defection to France in protest at Sydney (and Canberra's) stance.[10]

In 1915, when the Commonwealth was looking for a port for Canberra, the Illawarra shires unanimously volunteered to become part of the territory, however the state government in Sydney refused to allow it because it would be too close to Sydney's ports and far too competitive.[citation needed] Jervis Bay was eventually made the site, however territorial separatism is still felt in the region today. Illawarra politicians are often very supportive of new states movements elsewhere in the state, including New England (Australia), Riverina and Bogong states movements, however no current Illawarra new state movement is known to exist.[citation needed]

The Newcastle vs. Wollongong rivalries exist mainly due to the history of each city, to their similar populations, to both being steel towns, and also to their similar distances from Sydney.

South Australia–Victoria rivalry[edit]

Much of the rivalry is played out in sport, primarily Australian rules football, and the American dish chicken parmigiana. South Australians and most of the country call the dish a parmi. Victorians; however, call it a parma except in the Victorian town Geelong which calls it a parmi. There is not a united stance on parma in Victoria. The use of parmi/parma has led to some heated twitter debates most recently involving former Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich and Adelaide-born Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley. Back to AFL, and the very first interstate match was held between the two states in 1879. "Kick a Vic" became the later South Australian catchcry in State of Origin football. South Australians became bitter when the AFL canned the State of Origin series, which has increased with the reluctance to allow South Australia to once again compete.[11] There are even some South Australians who dispute the Victorian origin of Australian Rules and claim that the game is a South Australian invention, pointing to an earliest recorded football match which was played in South Australia in 1840, nearly two decades before the first rules of the game were written, although historians later argued that this early match was instead the Irish game of caid. Nevertheless, Australian rules in South Australia was the first to form a true governing body and the SANFL remains the oldest league in the game (founded as the SAFA just over two weeks before the VFA in early 1877). Many SANFL supporters resent the expansion of the VFL to become the Australian Football League, and in particular, the poaching of players from South Australia before the first teams from Adelaide were admitted into the competition.[12] Many South Australian supporters also resent the Melbourne-based AFL for not recognising its history and low representation in the official Australian Football Hall of Fame. Port Adelaide Football Club's bid to defect to the AFL in 1990 was seen as a major scandal and an act of betrayal by South Australians. Many of the club's supporters resent being forced to drop its jumper design and record number of premierships to change leagues upon its final admission in 1997. Another source of this rivalry goes back to how these states were settled. Neither state was formed as a penal colony however South Australia was self-governing (as opposed to a crown-colony). South Australia was a freely settled state that had no settlers when it was first settled. because of this it received many of its settlers from Germany and Austria and German was the de facto second language in South Australia until the First World War. Early Victoria settlers, on the other hand, were almost entirely English or Gaelic speakers from Great Britain and Ireland. As a result of South Australia's early German connection, a feeling of resentment was held towards the state during the First World War, a feeling which still exists, albeit on a much less intense level, today.

There is also a quite intense rivalry in the A-League between Adelaide United FC and Melbourne Victory.

North Queensland–Brisbane rivalry[edit]

There is a regional rivalry between North Queensland and Brisbane (or South East Queensland). This is partially because the distance between them, which is similar to the distance between Brisbane and other state capitals. There has been continuing proposals in the past for a separate North Queensland state. However many people of North Queensland (NQ) would prefer to be independent.[13] Rugby league games between the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos attract large crowds.

Cairns–Townsville rivalry[edit]

There has been a long-standing rivalry between the North Queensland cities of Cairns and Townsville. This is partly due to the similar size of the two cities, distance and slightly different local cultures. Both cities have sought to be known as the capital of the region, the major population centre and port. Cairns is considered the aviation, agricultural & tourism hub of North Queensland whilst Townsville is the administrative, financial and industrial hub.

Each city is home to a national sports team, the North Queensland Cowboys located in Townsville, and the Cairns Taipans. Because of the inter-city rivalry it generally takes longer for these teams to win the hearts and minds of potential supporters in the rival city.

Ballarat–Bendigo rivalry[edit]

The cities of Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria have an ongoing rivalry[14][15] which dates back to the Victorian Gold Rush.[16][citation needed] Throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries the two cities have been of almost identical size in terms of population and commercial importance, as well as claims to being the 'capital' of the Goldfields region of Victoria. Ballarat has remained slightly ahead in population terms, although growth rates between the two cities have fluctuated.[17]

The population figure for the local government area of the City of Greater Bendigo (which includes sizeable nearby towns) is larger, and therefore often cited by Bendigonians in favour of their city. Bendigo remains the larger financial centre and Bendigonians also claim the warmer climate. Bendigo also claimed superior gold production. Both Ballarat and Bendigo have used their history and architectural heritage as major tourist drawcards and directly vie for the tourist dollar. In tourism Ballarat has traditionally drawn more visitors due to its geographic position and also to the presence of popular Sovereign Hill, a re-creation of 1850's Ballarat town and mines. Ballarat was also the site of the 1854 Eureka rebellion, when armed miners and government troops fought over the miners' demands for fairer tax and license laws. Visitors are also drawn to the attractions related to the rebellion.

The modern Ballarat vs. Bendigo rivalry extends to sport with Australian rules[18] and basketball[19] teams from each town having notable contests drawing interest from the media and spectators.

Latrobe Valley[edit]

Long standing rivalries between towns and cities in the Latrobe Valley that make Latrobe City go back to 1880s, particularly between similarly sized Morwell and Traralgon[20] and to a lesser extent Moe. Latrobe City is a fairly rare case of an urban area formed incrementally from multiple similarly sized cities without a single central core. Both Morwell and Traralgon continue to claim the civic centre and most dominant in the region and the municipality City of Latrobe was partly formed to settle rivalries between the cities. This rivalry extends to sports, particularly local Australian rules football matches[21][22] and also soccer.

Tasmania: North vs South[edit]

The North and South rivalry generally follows the historical division of the state along the 42nd parallel. This division was formalised between 1804–1812 when the Northern county was known as Cornwall and the Southern county was Buckinghamshire.[23] The population of Tasmania is nearly evenly split between the North and the South.[24] The North-South rivalry manifests in various ways such as preference of beer; Cascade in the South vs Boags in the North,[25] and which newspaper is more widely read, The Mercury in the South vs The Examiner in the North. It is a longstanding battle between the two areas, and the mayors of Launceston and Hobart symbolically "buried the hatchet" in 1959. However, the current mayors dug the hatchets back up in 2012 whilst dressed in full pirate regalia.[26]

The divide has extended to the state's maximum security Risdon Prison, where northern and southern inmates are being separated.[27]

The north-south divide was referenced in an episode of Australian comedy TV series Utopia.[28]

Cartoonist Christopher Downes makes light of the rivalry in the cartoon The Great Divide[29] for the newspaper of the Southern division, The Mercury.

Facebook cartographer Simon Bags recently created this map to document the division of beer drinking in Tasmania.[30] Some controversy exists over the exact boundaries of the red and blue section of this map.

From time to time this North vs South issue is used by media outlets as a way of increasing readership. This is sometimes framed up as exploring the potential to divide the state again, as in this piece from the ABC: Tasmania was once (figuratively) split in two, could it happen again? It concludes Tasmania will not become states due to over-representation in the Australian Government.[31]

Hobart: North vs South (of the Flannelette Curtain)[edit]

There is also an intense rivalry between residents of the Greater Hobart area between those living North and South of the "Flannelette Curtain", an imaginary socioeconomic boundary running along Creek Road, Moonah. The Curtain, also known as the Flannel Curtain or the Latte Line by those to the North of it, is so called due to the supposed propensity of flannelette shirts North of the border, and is meant to distinguish the bogan regions of the North from the Southern regions, though even those living South of the Curtain admit the existence of many "bogan enclaves" in the South. In recent times, the Curtain has been observed to be migrating North.

Canberra: North vs South[edit]

Rivalry Between North (Universities) and South (Parliament and Gov. Building)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Australia's Number One Industry Newsletter". Travel Blackboard. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ Wahlquist, Calla. "Melbourne 'world's most liveable city' for seventh year running | Australia news". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  3. ^ Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal Archived 29 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ City Commerce :: Sydney Media :: City of Sydney Archived 9 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Stafford, Annabel (19 May 2008). "Now Sydney loses its tourism ascendancy". The Age. Melbourne.
  6. ^ State of Origin History
  7. ^ Rugby League News :: League Unlimited Archived 5 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 2005–06 Reissue". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  9. ^ Illawarra Historical Society
  10. ^ Time Magazine, Wed. 5 March 2003 "Going Gallic"
  11. ^ "Cornes blasts all-star match". 28 April 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Is the AFL still the VFL ?". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  13. ^ Up north they're in revolt from
  14. ^ The challenge begins for Bendigo and Ballarat [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Bucci, Nino (31 March 2010). "Ballarat pips us by 1: ABS figures reveal population growth". Bendigo Advertiser. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  16. ^[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Bendigo population growth just ahead of Ballarat". ABC News. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  18. ^ McDermott, Josh (4 April 2008). "Roosters rivalry round". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Ballarat v Bendigo: What's in a rivalry?". The Courier. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 2010-07-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Morwell" (PDF). Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Topsy-turvy times lead to changing of guard". The Age. Melbourne. 20 July 2003.
  23. ^ [1] Archived 28 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "North-south relations". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  25. ^ "Tassie beer wars". 4 January 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Hatchet job to end north-south rivalry". ABC News. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Risdon inmates split by great North-South divide". The Mercury. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  28. ^ "Stadium fight not in interests of unity". The Examiner. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Today's The Mercury Newspaper cartoon:... - The Cartoons of Christopher Downes". Facebook. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Simon Bags - fun rainy day activities for map nerds like..." Facebook. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  31. ^

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