Interstate Rivalry in Australia: A Few Nicknames

ANZ MarchTime for a another reprint of an article I wrote for Australia and New Zealand magazine, this is the one that appeared in their March issue a couple of months ago. A month before that, I’d written an article about hopping on a plane and visiting other Australian cities and I was going to follow that article up with a round up of another plane hopping trip we did to Adelaide.

Struck me though, that for so many people who haven’t experienced life in Australia, they wouldn’t be too aware of the friendly rivalry that goes on between states here. So, with that in mind, I wrote…

What’s in a name?

Last month I talked about the joys of plane hopping between Australian cities, describing in detail the speed with which my family and I were transported from Brisbane to Sydney for a mini break. But why go to all the bother? Surely Australia is Australia is Australia? No, not at all! Think England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and that in itself should help you to see how different our six states and two territories are.

The rivalry between each state that we have here is not dissimilar to how it is back in the UK either. It does seem that here in Australia people are very proud and defensive of the state or territory they were born in; in much the same way people are proud to be English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh.

I’ve certainly enjoyed my travels around Australia and I’m looking forward to telling you about my journeys in future articles. But first I wanted to give you some background and explain the cute little names we have given our interstate friends. Before we start though, it is worth remembering that these are not names we have given ourselves, but names chosen for us by our neighbours. You might notice then, that some of these names can be less than endearing.

Let’s get started.

As I am a Queenslander, I can be known as either a ‘Cane Toad’…..


That’s me

…or a ‘Banana Bender’, because, I suspect, we have loads of cane toads here and we grow a lot of bananas.

Those from New South Wales are known as ‘Cockroaches’, maybe because they have more cockroaches than we have bananas and cane toads put together here in Queensland.



Those from Victoria were originally known as ‘Gum Suckers’ because they literally used to chew the resin from gum trees as an early substitute for chewing gum. Nowadays though, you might hear them referred to as ‘Mexicans’, because they live south of the border. South Australians are known as ‘Crow Eaters’ because the symbol on their state flag looks like a crow on a dinner plate.

A very, very long way away from us, over in Western Australia, the people there are known as ‘Sandgropers’; well they do have lots of beaches. Just about the only nickname I could find for those who inhabit Australian Capital Territory though, was the ‘Roundabout-Abouters’; I’ve never been, but I’m guessing the place has a lot of roundabouts.

I think the ACT has got off lightly considering how many politicians live there, I can think of plenty of nicknames way more suitable. I wonder if there is a suggestion box somewhere?

Northern Territory seems to have got off lightly too with the nickname ‘Territorians’, until you dig deeper and find the uncomplimentary ‘Alcoholics’ and the scary ‘Crocbait’. ‘Taswegians’ is similarly kind to those who come from Tasmania, but the alternative ‘Apple Eaters’ rivals my own ‘Banana Bender’ status and I’d don’t even want to mention the other nickname I found for them, ‘Two Headers’.

Oops, sorry, that slipped out.

When all is said and done though, we really do get on like one big happy family. What do you want to be when you move to Australia? Anyway, an Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Welshman walk into a bar… no, maybe not.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Jane February 2, 2021, 3:29 pm |

    The ACT or Canberra is known in our area as “The Sheltered Workshop” for reasons obvious to most Aussies. 🙂

    • BobinOz February 5, 2021, 3:32 pm |

      Now that is funny. Brutal, but funny.

  • Donald March 24, 2017, 4:50 pm |

    Expat Canberran here: Never once heard of the “Round-Abouters”.
    We expats call it “The Can’ ” or “The Crapital” but we love it, so the latter is something we only use between ourselves.

    • BobinOz March 24, 2017, 7:01 pm |

      Yes, some of these nicknames are rather obscure and probably haven’t been used for many years. Glad to hear you are enjoying Canberra, I do get a lot of positive feedback about the city from the people who live there. ‘The Crapital’ must be doing something right 🙂

  • Mike Dawson November 20, 2016, 4:34 pm |

    Over here on temporary release from England with some cuz. They laughed at the roundabout abouters. Everything else panned out.
    It’s an amazing place AUS. Only had one bad experience on 7 Mile beach by Shellharbour and let’s just say he was a bit too friendly.

    • BobinOz November 21, 2016, 6:43 pm |

      Anything that gets a laugh is okay in my book. Glad to hear you are loving Australia, even though someone may have wanted to be just a little bit too friendly. I do hope you enjoy the rest of your stay here, un-pestered 🙂

  • Cheryl May 13, 2016, 7:16 pm |

    Queensland also calls all others that live south, “Southerners” as I found out a few years ago while living in Tully. I was taken to hospital with a tropical ulcer on the sole of my foot where the nurse called me a “Bloody Southerner”. That still makes me smile today when I think of it.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2016, 9:08 pm |

      I hope you replied with “Bloody banana bender!” 🙂

  • lorae January 27, 2016, 9:45 am |

    And Sydney people are coat hangers.

    • BobinOz January 27, 2016, 4:30 pm |

      Of course, yes, because of Harbour Bridge.

  • Joel May 18, 2013, 4:55 am |

    Canberra looks like a circular city and the streets are like concentric rings.

    • Kathryn May 28, 2013, 8:05 pm |

      The rivalry between States in Australia goes back a long way. However, it’s not an unpleasant toxic type of rivalry – it is more like a big brother teasing a younger brother. This link makes very interesting reading:

      This “ribbing” of other States also draws comparisons to the gentle teasing by Aussies of our brothers and sisters in gorgeous New Zealand (and vice versa). I remember when we were travelling in Russia last year and we met a local who asked us why we were so mean to New Zealanders – he was genuinely concerned. Of course, I explained that I could not think of two countries who are as close as Australia and out antipodean friends in New Zealand – we really ARE like family. Our jovial teasing of each other is all in fun and we have SO much in common but love to laugh about our iconic differences. Whereas the rivalry between Canada and America can get very nasty at times, NZ and Australia have a very strong bond that extends beyond ANZAC. Its part of the NZ and Aussie humour to “take the mickey” out of each other and that, of course, extends to the States within this vast country.

      • BobinOz May 28, 2013, 9:15 pm |

        Couldn’t agree more Kathryn, the rivalry is definitely not without its humour and it’s almost impossible to detect any nastiness whatsoever. Those watching the upcoming State of Origin might find that difficult to believe, but wherever I’ve watched it the spirit and rivalry between the fans has always been good.

        As for when Kiwis and Aussie’s meet, it is almost obligatory to take the Micky.

  • Dinali David May 16, 2013, 3:04 pm |

    I guess that will make us sandgropers:-)….not too unpleasant a name!

    • BobinOz May 16, 2013, 3:32 pm |

      Yes, it could have been worse 🙂

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