New South Wales is
in the south-east part of the Australian continent and is the most
populous and heavily industrialised State in Australia, with a
highly urbanised population.
Its capital is Sydney, Australia’s
largest city and one of the world’s great seaports. It is also an
important international finance centre. The total area of the State
is 802,000 km2 or 10.4 per cent of Australia’s total area and
includes Lord Howe, a small island in the Pacific Ocean.
Landscape: Natural features divide the State into four
main zones extending from north to south:
- Seaboard and coastal lowlands with a 1,460 km coastline broken
by few inlets of varying sizes.
- Tablelands formed by the Great Dividing Range and comprising
an almost unbroken series of plateau varying in width from 50 km
to 160 km and forming the main watershed where the coastal rivers
and those which flow inland originate. The Snowy Mountains region
has the highest peak on the continent, Mount Kosciusko, which is
- Western slopes which is a fertile, undulating region with rich
plains along rivers flowing inland and some rugged areas.
Generally regular and adequate rainfall has led to extensive
- Western plains comprising almost two-thirds of the State. The
soil is fertile, but poor rainfall and limited river water and
high temperatures seldom enable it to realise its agricultural or
pastoral potential. There are two distinct groups of rivers - the
short, fast-flowing coastal streams which drain about one-sixth of
the state but carry more than two-thirds of its water; and the
inland rivers, part of the Murray-Darling system. The main rivers
are the Hawkesbury, Hunter, Macleay, Clarence, Murrumbidgee,
Lachlan, Macquarie-Bogan, Namoi, Gwydir and Castlereagh.
Climate: New South Wales lies in the temperate zone and
the climate is generally free from extremes of heat and cold. The
greatest heat is usually experienced in the north-west; a shade
temperature of more than 51°C has been recorded at Bourke. The
coldest region is the Snowy Mountains, where winter frosts and snow
are experienced over long periods. Rainfall varies widely over the
state, gradually diminishing to an annual average of 180 mm in the
Source: Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, International Public Affairs Branch 1994