And the answer: Adelaide.
Adelaide earned its nickname for both its religious diversity and valued religious freedom. The city is home to the oldest Catholic cathedral in Australia, as well as a mosque and two synagogues. Amusingly, about a third of Adelaide’s population has no religious affiliation, making it one of the least religious cities in the country.
The origins of Australian capital cities are long and storied. When the British first landed on the Australian continent in 1788, they saw unexpected potential: the distant location and remote island nature of the land offered a prime place to which they could banish convicts. Over the course of the first 80 years of British settlement in Australia, more than 160,000 convicts were transported from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Today, about 20% of Australians are descendants of convicts, including plenty of prominent citizens. Today, the capital cities of Sydney, Hobart and Brisbane were all sites of penal colonies at Sydney Cove, Risdon Cove, and Edinglassie/Moreton Bay, respectively.
Adelaide, on the other hand, is the only capital city in Australia not founded by convicts. Nicknamed the “20-minute city” for its ease of access and small size, Adelaide was established in 1836 as a planned capital for free British settlers. A majority of the people had no criminal history, and the city was thought to have little crime compared to other areas. As a result, no prison was built for some time. Today, the city has a thriving population of over a million citizens.
Adelaide has also been called “The City of Firsts” for its strides in progressive lawmaking. It was the first city to give women access to vote, recognize Indigenous land rights, and criminalize sexual and racial discrimination. In the 1850s, South Australia was also the first colony in the British Empire to disestablish religion—thereby separating church and state.
Learn more about the history of Adelaide here.