New South Wales

New South Wales was the first part of Australia to be settled by the convicts sent out in the First Fleet - a somewhat inglorious start in which Australians today take great pride.

The place where they landed was Botany Bay, since superseded by Sydney Harbour as the most important body of water in the state. The original settlement has grown into an enormous city and much of Botany Bay is now filled in to make the runway for the city's airport!

The state is made up of the thin coastal strip between the sea and the Blue Mountains and then the vast plains of the hinterland where sheep graze and wheat is grown - except, of course, when there is a drought. Down in the south you have the Snowy Mountains, Australia's highest peaks and the only places where winter sports are available. In the north you have the well-watered and fertile areas of the Darling Downs and the Atherton Tableland.