The "Premier State", New South Wales is where European colonisation of Australia began when in 1788 a settlement was started where the country's largest city, Sydney, would develop. Aboriginal tribes had lived in the area for 40 to 60,000 years when Captain James Cook landed at what would be called Botany Bay during his voyage along the east coast of Australia in 1770. In his journal Cook first named the east coast of Australia "New Wales", which he later corrected in his journal to "New South Wales", probably because the coast reminded him of Wales.
Cook's discoveries prepared the way for establishment of a new penal colony: as the American colonies had become independent, prisoners could no longer be sent there. The first British settlement was founded after the "First Fleet" landed in 1788 by Captain Arthur Phillip who assumed the role of governor of the penal colony until 1792. After years of chaos, anarchy and the overthrow of Governor William Bligh, a new governor, Lachlan Macquarie, was sent from Britain to reform the settlement in 1809. Macquarie commissioned the construction of roads, wharves, churches and public buildings, he sent explorers across the continent and employed a planner to design the street layout of Sydney. Macquarie's legacy is still evident today
Today New South Wales is the most urbanised part of the country. And yet, just on the outskirts of Sydney are the magnificent Blue Mountains, with endless possibilities for hiking and enjoying the mountain air; there are fantastic beaches and wonderful views everywhere and even opportunities for skiing in the Australian Alps. And there are peaceful villages like Numeralla, in beautiful forest country. Newcastle, 162 kilometres north of Sydney, has the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, but also wonderful unspoiled beaches; the beaches go all the way to the Queensland border and beyond, popular with holiday makers. But in the west the real outback starts, with vast plains, farms and, in the far west near the South Australian border, the mining town of Broken Hill, where mining started in the 1880s. It is now home to the School of the Air and a Royal Flying Doctor base, servicing the far-flung farms. This is a flat and dry land, quite a contrast with the hilly, well watered country in the east.