Back in the good old days, as I recall, one could refer to an atlas of Australia, confident that the state maps would be shown in a logical order, that is, with New South Wales first. I say logical, because NSW is both the oldest and the most populous state — and even the first in alphabetical order. Then followed the other states, in order of population: Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Northern Territory, which has never been a real state, came last. (One could perhaps argue that WA should come before SA because it has a larger population, but SA had a greater population up to 1981, by which time the canonical atlas order of the states had been well established.)
I’ve just been looking through a number of Australian atlases, trying to locate a small Queensland settlement, and gradually realising, as I sought to find the right page, that what I thought was the accepted order for the states seems to have been abandoned. This realisation came as a shock for me, as I’m sure it does for you! In one atlas, Queensland appeared first, in another it came second last, preceding only Tasmania. Only three of the five atlases I consulted showed NSW first! Not one of them used the traditional order!
In seeking to discern some new-fangled reasoning behind this revisionist approach, I could only conclude that the publishers had a preference for showing the states in order as they appear around the country, either clockwise or anticlockwise, with Tasmania tucked in somewhere. For example, Ron & Viv Moon’s Discover Australia by 4WD uses the anticlockwise order Vic, NSW, Qld, NT, WA, SA, Tas. And why start with Victoria? Would it surprise you to discover that the Moons live in Victoria?
Of course, I should declare that I happen to live in NSW. But I see no reason to change the order which has served us so well over many years. Please stand with me for truth, justice and the Australian way. Refuse to buy any atlas which does not show the states in the proper order. If it was good enough for Captain Cook, then it should be good enough for us!