There's Another New England

No, this isn't the Twilight zone – it's Australia

Sydney, Australia
••• What if I told you that "New England" was closer to Sydney than to Manhattan?. MField via Creative Commons

When you think of "New England," you think of Boston, Hartford and Providence. You think of bone-chilling winters, brilliant fall colors, wet springs and way-too-short summers. You think of Paul Revere, lob-stah and Family Guy. You think of lighthouses, churches and the New England Patriots.

You probably don't think of kangaroos – but in the case of one particular "New England," you probably should.

(Yes, that's a major hint about where this New England is located.)

Where is New England, Australia?

Nearly 10,000 miles from the cobbled streets of Boston, you'll find the proverbial "other" New England, located in the northern part of Australia's New South Wales state, which is also home to Sydney. Also known as the "Northern Tablelands" and/or the "Northwest Slopes," New England, Australia sits about 35 miles inland from the ocean, a major fact that separates it from its decidedly maritime North American cousin.

Interestingly, while New England remains officially undefined (in geographic terms), it has been pursuing official Australian statehood for quite some time, seeking to separate itself from surrounding New South Wales. If the movement succeeds, it would be yet another fact about the region that sets it apart from its cousin in North America, even if it would still remain less easy to define in every other way – more on that in a moment.

What's the Story of New England, Australia?

The history of New England, Australia not surprisingly dates back to some English explorers, although they arrived here a couple centuries after their forefathers landed at Plymouth Rock. Specifically, it was in the mid-19th century that English sailors such as John Oxley and Allan Cunningham began to map out the region that would eventually be known as "New England."

Initially, New England served as little more that a timber factory, owing to its large reserves of Australian red cedar trees. Over time, however, industry in the area expanded into gold and copper mining, and with the arrival of railroads in the late 19th century, permanent populations began to settle in cities like Tamworth and Armidale, which these days enjoy regular air service and connections to multiple highways. Rail service here, as is the case in much of Australia these days, leaves a lot to be desired.

Is There Anything to See in New England, Australia?

I first learned about New England, Australia from a friend of mine who hails there, a fellow travel writer whose blog hinges heavily on Australian identity. "Nothing," he said bluntly, when I asked him what there was to see and/or do in New England, Australia, or if there was any reason – save for novelty – that someone might voluntarily visit the region.

My independent research has led me to a different conclusion – well, sort of. While I can't claim that the rolling green mountains and rocky ridges of New England, Australia are unique enough in and of themselves to warrant a visit there, it does seem that the region is interesting enough for local residents and for travelers who happen to be in the area, for instance in the world-renowned beaches at Coffs Harbour or Byron Bay.

For example, Australia's New England is home to nearly 30 national parks, including Cathedral Rock National Park, Guy Fawkes River National Park and, perhaps least surprisingly, New England National Park. You can easily spot iconic Australian wildlife (namely, kangaroos) throughout the region, to say nothing of the diverse and abundant flora.

You won't walk the cosmopolitan streets of world-class cities like Boston, and you won't be able to enjoy the delicious lobster you can on the coast of Maine (at least not without paying the hefty price to import it), but you can say the most important thing there is to say when it comes to visiting somewhere: I was here! In New England, Australia.