When I think about it, I love New South Wales. It's easily the best state in Australia.
Travel extensively in this state and you'll see a broader cross-section of landscapes than any Australian state can offer. NSW has subtropical rainforests. It has pristine beaches (with no killer jellyfish). It has the Blue Mountains -- a landscape so dramatic and wild that they found trees from the dinosaur age. NSW has outback. It has the country's four longest rivers. It has Australia's highest, snowiest mountains and our oldest, most historic towns.
And that's just geography. NSW has Australia's largest and most diverse economy and population too. And of course, it has Sydney, the only Australian city which people from most countries can name, let alone picture.
But enough free press releases for NSW Tourism or whatever they're called these days. Here's why I'm writing this.
I'm writing it because despite all the terrific things about NSW, I have no state pride. None at all. Not one little bit. Nor does anyone else I know who lives here.
People from other states build their identities along state lines. They'll beat their chests and tell you they're a "Queenslander" or a "Victorian" or a "West Australian "or a "Territorian". Many even see themselves as Queenslanders first (or Victorians or wherever), Australians second.
We NSW folk aren't like that.
I'd call myself a dad, husband, journalist, Australian, suburban slob, cockatoo appreciator, amateur pinball maker, outdoors enthusiast and about a thousand other things before I'd call myself a "New South Welshman" or whatever you're supposed to say.
One problem is the word. The term "New South Welshman" is a) gender specific and therefore excludes half the population, and b) clunky as hell. It rolls off the tongue like you just sneezed while eating spaghetti bolognese.
Another problem is the fact that this state doesn't even remotely resemble the southern part of Wales, a region of the British Isles which I recently visited and documented.
A third problem is historical in origin. When the British colonised/invaded in 1788, half the Australian continent was all part of an entity called new South Wales. As the colonies calved off and eventually became states, they developed an antipathy towards the original entity.
In other words, they hated us. Classic teenager "hate the parent" syndrome. And like all teenagers, they built a sense of identity around being something totally different to their parents.
The pride of our other states and territories grows by the day. Here in New South Wales? Well, maybe we're just too numbed by the traffic and the mortgage/rent payments to have energy for something as silly as that. But I think there's another reason for our lack of state pride which I'm yet to mention.
Quite simply, we're not insecure like people from other states. We don't have chips on our shoulders. We're fine, thanks very much, and we don't need to prove it to anyone.
Why write this now?
Because this Wednesday night is the first match in rugby league's annual State of Origin series, that's why. And it's all about "state against state" and all that.
For the record, Queensland leads the overall series ledger 58-48. They should be respected for that, as they draw players from a smaller population pool (except when they cheat).
Queenslanders also deserve respect for their passion. Any way you look at it, they care more about this cross-border sporting rivalry. The Queensland Origin team has more followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. In Brisbane this week, there's a whole State of Origin fan zone at South Bank where the public can get involved.
In Sydney in three weeks, you won't know the game's on. If the NSW Blues win, great. Carn the Blues. If they don't, meh, whatever. Nobody will be crying afterwards. It's just how it is round here. Our sense of self worth has precisely zero percent to do with state boundaries.
Football aside, winter is now upon us. Over the next few months, I'll be able to drive a few hours one way and ski, or and a few hours the other way and swim in the ocean without a wetsuit. I don't know any other Australian state -- or too many places in the world -- where you can do that.
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