Image Credit: Journal of the Royal Geographic Society of London

Failed states of Australia

  • BY John Pickrell |
  • March 10, 2016

Had these proposed colonies been created, Australia would look very different today.

THE DIVISION OF Australia went through a long evolution from 1770, when the eastern half 
was claimed for Britain as New South Wales, through to 1927, when the Northern Territory was split into North Australia and Central Australia, only to be reunited again in 1931.

No states have been added since federation in 1901. New Zealand was once part of NSW, and there were proposals for it 
to become a state, most recently prior to the creation of the Commonwealth.

This map shows a proposal for the subdivision of Australia that was published in The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London in 1838. ‘Tasmania’ and ‘Victoria’ here are unrelated to the modern states with those names.

This plan would have split the continent purely on geometric grounds, and the proposal never came to pass. Shortly afterwards in 1851 Victoria was proclaimed, followed by Queensland in 1859.  Van Diemen’s Land was renamed Tasmania in 1856. 

Spain and Portugal seem curious additions here, but the small print says: "SPAIN & PORTUGAL, given in the Equatorial distance, to serve as a measure of magnitude."

This article was originally published in the Mar-Apr 2016 edition of Australian Geographic (AG131).

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