Western Australia: Wikis


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Coordinates: 26°0′S 121°0′E / 26°S 121°E / -26; 121

Western Australia
Flag of Western Australia Coat of arms of Western Australia
Flag Coat of arms
Slogan or Nickname: Wildflower State or the Golden State
Map of Australia with Western Australia highlighted
Other Australian states and territories
Capital Perth
Demonym West Australian
Government Constitutional monarchy
Governor Ken Michael
Premier Colin Barnett (LP)
 - Total  2,645,615 km2 (1st)
1,021,478 sq mi
 - Land 2,529,875 km2
976,790 sq mi
 - Water 115,740 km2 (4.37%)
44,687 sq mi
Population (June 2009)
 - Population  2,236,900 (4th[1])
 - Density  0.88/km2 (7th)
2.3 /sq mi
 - Highest Mount Meharry
1,249 m AHD (4,098 ft)
Gross State Product (2008-09)
 - Product ($m)  $156,603[2] (4th)
 - Product per capita  $70,009 (1st)
Time zone AWST UTC+8 does not observe DST
Federal representation
 - House seats 15
 - Senate seats 12
 - Postal WA
 - ISO 3166-2 AU-WA
 - Floral Red and Green Kangaroo Paw
(Anigozanthos manglesii)[3]
 - Mammal Numbat
(Myrmecobius fasciatus)
 - Bird Black Swan
(Cygnus atratus)
 - Fossil Gogo Fish
 - Colours Gold and Black (from the State Badge)
Web site www.wa.gov.au

Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. Australia's largest state and the second largest subnational entity in the world, it has 2.2 million inhabitants (10% of the national total), 85% of whom live in the south-west corner of the state.

The state's capital city is Perth. The people of Western Australia are often colloquially referred to as sandgropers, the common name of an insect found on sand dunes around Perth.[4]



Western Australia is bounded by South Australia and the Northern Territory to the east, and the Indian Ocean to the west and north. In Australia, the body of water south of the continent is officially gazetted as the Southern Ocean, whereas the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) designates it as part of the Indian Ocean.[5]

The total distance of the state's eastern borders is 1,862 km (1,157 mi),[6] and there is 12,889 km (8,009 mi) of coastline.[7] The total land area occupied by the state is 2.5 million km2.[8]

Natural history


The bulk of Western Australia consists of the extremely old Yilgarn craton and Pilbara craton which merged with the Deccan Plateau of India, Madagascar and the Karoo and Zimbabwe cratons of Southern Africa, in the Archean Eon to form Ur, one of the oldest supercontinents on Earth (3,200 – 3,000 million years ago).

Because the only mountain-building since then has been of the Stirling Range with the rifting from Antarctica, the land is extremely eroded and ancient, with no part of the state above 1,245 metres (4,085 ft) AHD (at Mount Meharry in the Hamersley Range of the Pilbara region). Most parts of the state form a low plateau with an average elevation of about 400 metres (1,200 ft), very low relief, and no surface runoff. This descends relatively sharply to the coastal plains, in some cases forming a sharp escarpment (as with the Darling Range/Darling Scarp near Perth).

The extreme age of the landscape has meant that the soils are remarkably infertile and frequently laterised. Even soils derived from granitic bedrock contain an order of magnitude less available phosphorus and only half as much nitrogen as soils in comparable climates in other continents. Soils derived from extensive sandplains or ironstone are even less fertile, being even more devoid of soluble phosphate and also deficient in zinc, copper, molybdenum and sometimes potassium and calcium.

Western Australian cities, towns, settlements and road network

The infertility of most of the soils has required heavy inputs of chemical fertilisers, particularly superphosphate, insecticides and herbicides, which—with the ensuing damage to invertebrate and bacterial populations, and compaction of soils through heavy machinery and hoofed mammals—has done great damage to the fragile soils.

Large-scale land clearing for agriculture and forestry has damaged habitats for native flora and fauna. As a result, the South West region of the state has a higher concentration of rare, threatened or endangered flora and fauna than many areas of Australia, making it one of the world's biodiversity "hot spots". Large areas of the state's wheatbelt region have problems with dryland salinity and the loss of fresh water.


The southwest coastal area has a Mediterranean climate and was originally heavily forested, including large stands of the karri, one of the tallest trees in the world.[9] This agricultural region of Western Australia is in the top nine terrestrial habitats for terrestrial biodiversity, with a higher proportion of endemic species than most other equivalent regions. Thanks to the offshore Leeuwin Current the area numbers in the top six regions for marine biodiversity, containing the most southerly coral reefs in the world.

Hay Street, Perth

Average annual rainfall varies from 300 millimetres (12 in) at the edge of the Wheatbelt region to 1,400 millimetres (55 in) in the wettest areas near Northcliffe, but in the months of November to March evaporation exceeds rainfall, and it is generally very dry. Plants must be adapted to this as well as the extreme poverty of all soils. A major reduction in winter rainfall has been observed since the mid-1970s, with a greater number of extreme rainfall events in the summer months.[10]

The central four-fifths of the state is semiarid or desert and is lightly inhabited with the only significant activity being mining. Annual rainfall averages 200–250 millimetres (8–10 in), most of which occurs in sporadic torrential falls related to cyclone events in summer months.

An exception to this is the northern tropical regions. The Kimberley has an extremely hot monsoonal climate with average annual rainfall ranging from 500 to 1,500 millimetres (20–60 in), but there is a very long almost rainless season from April to November. Eighty-five percent of the state's runoff occurs in the Kimberley, but because it occurs in violent floods and because of the insurmountable poverty of the generally shallow soils, the only development has taken place along the Ord River.

Occurrence of snow in the state is rare, and typically only in the Stirling Range near Albany, as it is the only mountain range far enough south and with sufficient elevation. More rarely, snow can fall on the nearby Porongurup Range. Snow outside these areas is a major event; it usually occurs in hilly areas of southwestern Australia. The most widespread low-level snow occurred on 26 June 1956 when snow was reported in the Perth Hills, as far north as Wongan Hills and as far east as Salmon Gums. However, even in the Stirling Range, snowfalls rarely exceed 5 cm (2 in) and rarely settle for more than one day.[11]

The highest observed maximum temperature of 50.5 °C (122.9 °F) was recorded at Mardie, Pilbara, 61.6 kilometres (38.3 mi) from Barrow Island on 19 February 1998. The lowest minimum temperature recorded was -7.2 °C (19.0 °F) at Eyre Bird Observatory on 17 August 2008.[12]


The Black Swan is the state bird of Western Australia
The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw is the floral emblem of Western Australia

Western Australia is home to around 540 species of birds (depending on the taxonomy used). Of these around 15 are endemic to the state. The best areas for birds are the southwestern corner of the state and the area around Broome and the Kimberley.

The Flora of Western Australia comprises 9437 published native vascular plant species of 1543 genera within 226 families, there are also 1171 naturalised alien or invasive plant species more commonly known as weeds.[13] In the southwest region are some of the largest numbers of plant species for its area in the world.

William Henry Harvey published a five-volume Phycologia Australia which was issued in parts between 1858 and 1863. He earned the title of father of Australian Phycology. His main collection is in the herbarium of Trinity College Dublin, there is also a large collection of his specimens in the Ulster Museum, Belfast.


John Forrest was the first Premier of Western Australia

The first inhabitants of Australia arrived from the north approximately 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. Over thousands of years they eventually spread across the whole landmass. These Indigenous Australians were well established throughout Western Australia by the time of European explorers began to arrive in the early seventeenth century.

The first European to visit Western Australia was a Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog who on 26 October 1616 landed at what is now known as Cape Inscription, Dirk Hartog Island. For the rest of the 17th century, many other Dutch travellers enountered the coast, usually unintentionally.[citation needed] By the late 18th century, British and French sailors had begun to explore the Western Australian coast.

The origins of the present state began with the establishment of a British settlement at King George Sound in 1826 (later named Albany from 1832). The settlement was founded in response to British concerns about the possibility of a French colony being established on the coast of Western Australia.

Western Australian flag at the State War Memorial, Kings Park

In 1829, the Swan River Colony was established on the Swan River by Captain James Stirling. By 1832, the British settler population of the colony had reached around 1,500. The two separate townsites of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the state's capital, Perth.

Population growth was very slow until significant discoveries of gold were made in the 1890s around Kalgoorlie.

In 1887, a new constitution was drafted, providing for the right of self-governance and in 1890, the act granting self-government to the colony was passed by the British House of Commons. John Forrest became the first Premier of Western Australia.

In 1896, the Western Australian Parliament authorised the raising of a loan to construct a pipeline to transport five million gallons of water per day to the Goldfields of Western Australia. The pipeline, known as the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, was completed in 1903. C.Y. O'Connor, Western Australia's first engineer-in-chief, designed and oversaw the construction of the pipeline. It carries water 530 km (330 miles) from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and is attributed by historians as an important factor driving the state's population and economic growth.[14]

Following a campaign led by Forrest, residents of the Swan River Colony voted in favour of federation, resulting in Western Australia officially becoming a state on 1 January 1901.


Western Australia's capital and largest city, Perth, from Kings Park. Its metropolitan area is home to 75% of the state's population

The first inhabitants of what is now Western Australia were Indigenous Australians, from a wide variety of language and kin groups—for example, the Nyungah in the southwest, the Wongai in the central desert, the Malkana in Shark Bay. These groups continue to form the majority of the local population in the remotest parts of the state such as the Kimberley.

Europeans began to settle permanently in 1826 when Albany was claimed by Britain to forestall French claims to the western third of the continent. Perth was founded as the Swan River Colony in 1829 by British and Irish settlers, though the outpost languished, eventually requesting convict labour to augment its population. In the 1890s, interstate migration resulting from a mining boom in the Goldfields region resulted in a sharp population increase.

WA Population Growth 1829–2008

Western Australia did not receive significant flows of migrants from Britain, Ireland or elsewhere in the British Empire until the early 20th century when local projects—such as the Group Settlement Scheme of the 1920s which encouraged farmers to settle the southwest—increased awareness of Australia's western third as a destination for colonists.

Led by migrants from the British Isles, Western Australia's population developed at a faster rate during the twentieth century it had previously. Along with the eastern states, Western Australia received large numbers of Italians, Croatians and Greeks after World War II. Despite this, Britain has contributed the greatest number of migrants to this day, and Western Australia—particularly Perth—has the highest proportion of British-born of any state: 10.6% in 2006, compared to a national average of 5.3%. This group is heavily concentrated in certain parts where they account for a quarter of the population.

Distribution of the Western Australian population

In terms of ethnicity, the 2001 census data reveals that 77.5% of Western Australia's population is of European descent: the largest single group was those reporting English ethnicity, accounting for 733,783 responses (32.7%), followed by Australian with 624,259 (27.8%), Irish with 171,667 (7.6%), Italian with 96,721 (4.3%), Scottish with 62,781 (2.8%), German with 51,672 (2.3%) and Chinese with 48,894 responses (2.2%). There were 58,496 Indigenous Australians in Western Australia in 2001, forming 3.1% of the population.

In terms of birthplace, according to the 2006 census [15] 27.1% of the population were born overseas—higher than the Australian average of 22.2%. 8.9% of West Australians were born in England, 2.4% in New Zealand, 1.2% in Scotland, 1.1% in South Africa, and 1.1% in Italy.

Perth's metropolitan area had an estimated population of 1.55 million in 2007 (75% of the state). Other significant population centres include Mandurah (78,612), Bunbury (32,499), Kalgoorlie (28,242), Albany (25,196), Geraldton (31,553), Port Hedland (14,000), and Broome (14,436).[16]


Aerial view of Fremantle Harbour, a major port in WA

Western Australia's economy is largely driven by extraction and processing of a diverse range of mineral and petroleum commodities. The structure of the economy is closely linked to the abundance of natural resources found in the State, providing a comparative advantage in resource extraction and processing. As a consequence:

  • the Western Australian economy is more capital-intensive than all the other states.[17]
  • Gross state product per person ($70,009) is higher than any other state and well above the national average ($54,606).[18]
  • Diversification (ie a greater range of commodities) over the past 15 years has provided a more balanced production base and less reliance on just a few major export markets, insulating the economy from fluctuations in world prices (eg high oil and gas prices help sustain export income when prices of other commodities such as alumina and nickel fall)
  • There has been strong growth in the services (finance, insurance and property) and construction sector, which have increased their share of economic output.[17]
  • Recent growth in global demand for minerals and petroleum, especially in China (iron-ore) and Japan (for LNG), has ensured economic growth above the national average.

Western Australia's overseas exports accounted for 36% of the nation's total.[19] The state's major export commodities include iron-ore, alumina, crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), nickel, gold, ammonia, wheat, wool, and live sheep and cattle.

Western Australia is a major extractor of bauxite, which is also processed into alumina at three refineries providing more than 20% of total world production. It is the world's third-largest iron-ore producer (15% of the world's total) and extracts 75% of Australia's 240 tonnes of gold. Diamonds are extracted at Argyle diamond mine in far north of the Kimberley region. Coal mined at Collie is the main fuel for baseload electricity generation in the state's south-west.

Western Australia's resource commodity mix, 2007.
Major commodity mix, 2008-2009.

Agricultural production in WA is a major contributor to the state and national economy. Although tending to be highly seasonal, 2006-07 wheat production in WA was nearly 10 million tonnes, accounting for almost half the nation's total.[20] and providing $1.7 billion in export income.[21] Other significant farm output includes barley, peas,[20] wool, lamb and beef. There is a high level of overseas demand for imports of live animals from WA, driven mainly by South East Asia's feedlots and Middle Eastern countries, where cultural and religious traditions and a lack of storage and refrigeration facilities favour live animals over imports of processed meat. Approximately 50% of Australia's live cattle exports come from Western Australia.[22]

Resource sector growth in recent years has resulted in significant labour and skills shortages, leading to recent efforts by the state government to encourage interstate and overseas migration.[23] According to the 2006 census,[15] the median individual income was A$500 per week in Western Australia (compared to A$466 in Australia as a whole). The median family income was A$1246 per week (compared to A$1171 for Australia). Recent growth has also contributed to significant rises in average property values in 2006, although values plateaued in 2007. Perth property prices are still the second highest in Australia behind Sydney, and high rental prices continue to be a problem.

Located south of Perth, the heavy industrial area of Kwinana has the nation's largest oil refinery which produces petrol and diesel for local consumption,[24] along with iron, alumina, and nickel processing plants, port facilities for grain exports, and support industries for mining and petroleum such as heavy and light engineering, and metal fabrication. Shipbuilding (eg Austal Ships) and associated support industries are found at nearby Henderson, just south of Fremantle. Significant secondary industries include cement and building product manufacturing, flour milling, food processing, animal feed production, automotive body building, and printing.

In recent years, tourism has grown in importance, with significant numbers of visitors to the state coming from the UK and Ireland (28%), other European countries (14%) Singapore (16%), Japan (10%) and Malaysia (8%).[21] Revenue from tourism is a strong economic driver in many of the smaller population centres outside of Perth, especially in coastal locations.

Western Australia has a significant fishing industry. Products for local consumption and export include Western Rock Lobsters, prawns, crabs, shark and tuna, as well as pearl fishing in the Kimberley region of the state. Processing is conducted along the west coast. Whaling was a key marine industry but ceased at Albany in 1978.


Government House, Western Australia

Western Australia was granted self-government in 1889 with a bicameral Parliament located in Perth, consisting of the Legislative Assembly (or lower house), which has 59 members; and the Legislative Council (or upper house), which has 36 members. Suffrage is universal and compulsory for citizens over 18 years of age.

With the federation of the Australian colonies in 1901, Western Australia became a state within Australia's federal structure; this involved ceding certain powers to the Commonwealth (or Federal) government in accordance with the Constitution; all powers not specifically granted to the Commonwealth remained solely with the State, however over time the Commonwealth has effectively expanded its powers through increasing control of taxation and financial distribution.

Whilst the sovereign of Western Australia is the Queen of Australia (Queen Elizabeth II), and executive power nominally vested in her State representative the Governor (currently Ken Michael), executive power rests with the premier and ministers drawn from the party or coalition of parties holding a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly. The current Premier is Colin Barnett.


Secessionism has been a recurring feature of Western Australia's political landscape since shortly after European settlement in 1826. Western Australia was the most reluctant participant in the Commonwealth of Australia.[25] Western Australia did not participate in the earliest federation conference. Longer-term residents of Western Australia were generally opposed to federation; however, the discovery of gold brought many immigrants from other parts of Australia. It was these residents, primarily in Kalgoorlie but also in Albany who voted to join the Commonwealth, and the proposal of these areas being admitted separately under the name Auralia was considered.

In a referendum in April 1933, 68% of voters voted for the state to leave the Commonwealth of Australia with the aim of returning to the British Empire as an autonomous territory. The State Government sent a delegation to Westminster, but the British Government refused to intervene and therefore no action was taken to implement this decision.[citation needed]


Education in Western Australia consists of one year of pre-school at age 5, followed by seven years of primary school education. At age 13, students begin five years of secondary education. The final two years of secondary education are currently changing to compulsory. All students who completed Year 10 in 2005 are now required to undertake further studies in Year 11. Students are required to complete the year in which they turn 16 (usually Year 11).

Commencing in 2008 all students will be required to complete 12 years of study before leaving school. Students will have the option to study at a TAFE college in their eleventh year or continue through high school with a vocational course or a specific University entrance course.

The universities in Western Australia are Curtin University of Technology, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia.



For more information visit the page Western Australian Papers

Western Australia has two daily newspapers: the independent tabloid The West Australian, Countryman and The Kalgoorlie Miner. Also published is one Sunday tabloid newspaper, News Corporation's The Sunday Times. There are also 17 weekly Community Newspapers with distribution from Yanchep in the North to Mandurah in the South. The interstate broadsheet publication The Australian is also available, although with sales per capita lagging far behind those in other states. With the advent of the Internet, local news websites like WAtoday, which provide free access to their content, are becoming a popular alternative source of news. Other online publications from around the world like the New South Wales based The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian are also available.


Metropolitan Perth has had six broadcast television stations, five of the stations continue to operate;

  • ABC WA. Produces nightly local news at 7pm. (digital and analogue) (callsign: ABW – Channel 2 Analogue, Channel 12 Digital)
  • SBS WA (digital and analogue) (callsign: SBS – Channel 28 Analogue, Channel 29 Digital)
  • Seven Network Perth. Produces weeknightly local news and current affairs from 6pm to 7pm. (digital and analogue) (callsign: TVW – Channel 7 Analogue, Channel 6 Digital)
  • Nine Network Perth. Produces weeknightly local news from 6pm to 6.30pm. (digital and analogue) (callsign: STW – Channel 9 Analogue, Channel 8 Digital)
  • Network Ten Perth. Produces weeknightly local news from 5pm – 6pm. (digital and analogue) (callsign: NEW – Channel 10 Analogue, Channel 11 Digital)
  • Access 31. Community service channel. (analogue-only) (callsign: ATW – Channel 31 Analogue) – ceased transmission in August 2008, with assets liquidated.[26][27]

In addition, broadcasters operate digital multichannels:

Regional WA has a similar availability of stations, with the exception of Access 31 in all areas but Bunbury and Albany. The metropolitans commercial stations are affiliated with:

  • Golden West Network (GWN). Produces weeknightly local news from 5.30pm to 6pm, also airs Seven Perth news until 7pm) (analogue only) (callsign: SSW South West, VEW Goldfields/Esperance, GTW Central West, WAW Statewide)
  • WIN Television WA. Produces weeknightly local news from 6:30pm – 7pm, however live from Perth. Also airs Nine Perth news from 6pm – 6:30pm. (analogue only) (callsign: WOW)

Pay TV services are provided by Foxtel, which acquired many of the assets and all the remaining subscribers of the insolvent Galaxy Television satellite service in 1998. Some metropolitan suburbs are serviced by Pay TV via cable; however, most of the metropolitan and rural areas can only access Pay TV via satellite.


Perth has many radio stations on both AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include ABC NewsRadio (6PB 585AM), 720 ABC Perth (6WF 720AM), ABC Radio National (6RN 810AM), ABC Classic FM (6ABC 97.7FM) and Triple J (6JJJ 99.3FM). The six commercial stations are: FM 92.9 (6PPM), Nova 93.7 (6PER), Mix 94.5 (6MIX), 96fm (6NOW), and AM 882 (6PR), and AM 1080 (6IX).

The leading community stations are 6RTR FM 92.1 and Sonshine FM 98.5 (6SON).



Western Australia's winemaking regions are almost entirely concentrated in the south-western portion of the State. Major wine producing regions include: Margaret River, The Great Southern, Swan Valley as well as several smaller districts including Blackwood Valley, Manjimup, Pemberton, Peel, Perth Hills, and Geographe. Several wineries produce wine for local consumption and international export.[28]


A number of national or international sporting teams and events are based in the state, including:

International events hosted by Western Australia include the Hopman Cup, the Tom Hoad Cup, the Perth Cup, Red Bull Air Race and the Gravity Games.

See also



  1. ^ "3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2009". ABS. 22 September 2009. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0/. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  2. ^ 5220.0 - Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 2008-09 (Reissue), Australian Bureau of Statistics, 22 December 2009.
  3. ^ "The Floral Emblem of Western Australia". Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Government of Western Australia. http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/index.cfm?event=symbolsWaFloral. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  4. ^ Western Australian Museum - Sandgroper
  5. ^ IHO Limit of Oceans and Seas and Article
  6. ^ "State And Territory Borders". Geoscience Australia. 11 September 2007. http://www.ga.gov.au/education/facts/dimensions/borders.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  7. ^ "Australian Coastlines". Geoscience Australia. 7 August 2003. http://www.ga.gov.au/education/facts/dimensions/coastlin.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  8. ^ "Area of States and Territories". Geoscience Australia. 31 August 2005. http://www.ga.gov.au/education/facts/dimensions/areadime.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  9. ^ "Climate of Western Australia". Bureau of Meteorology. http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/ausclim/ausclimwa.htm. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "How extreme south-west rainfalls have changed" (PDF). Indian Ocean Climate Initiative. 2000. http://www.water.wa.gov.au/Tools/Water+Education+Tools/Resources/Downloads_GetFile.aspx?id=931. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  11. ^ Snow in Western Australia: About Snow in WA, retrieved 4 February 2007
  12. ^ "Rainfall and Temperature Records: National" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/extreme/records/national.pdf. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  13. ^ "Current Statistics - Vascular Flora". Western Australian Flora Statistics. Flora Base. http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/statistics/. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  14. ^ Tauman, Merab Harris (1988). "O'Connor, Charles Yelverton (1843-1902)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1. MUP. pp. 51–54. http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110059b.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  15. ^ a b 2006 Census QuickStats: Western Australia, October 2007
  16. ^ "Estimated Resident Population, WA". ABS. 31 March 2008. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3218.02006-07?OpenDocument. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  17. ^ a b "Structure of the WA Economy". WA Department of Treasury and Finance. 24 Jan 2006. http://www.dtf.wa.gov.au/cms/uploadedFiles/structure_wa_economy_2005.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  18. ^ Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 2008-09
  19. ^ "Australian Economic Indicators". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2008. http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/34CE7FFF9776F3F1CA2574B30017CFB2/$File/13500_sep%202008.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  20. ^ a b "2008 Crop Report". ABARE. 1 June 2008. http://abare.gov.au/publications_html/cr/cr_08/cr08_June.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  21. ^ a b "WA at a Glance 2008". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2 April 2008. http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/EFF65DC1D23D314FCA25741D000DC292/$File/13065_2008_reissue.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  22. ^ "2008 Live Exports". ABARE. 31 March 2008. http://abare.gov.au/publications_html/livestock/livestock_08/LiveExports.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  23. ^ www.gowestnow.com "Go West Now". Government of Western Australia. 2008. http://www.gowestnow.com www.gowestnow.com. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  24. ^ "Downstream_Petroleum 2007 Report". Australian Institute of Petroleum. 15 July 2008. http://www.aip.com.au/pdf/Downstream_Petroleum_2007_Report.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  25. ^ Review Essay, New Federation History, Melbourne University Law Review www.austlii.edu.au
  26. ^ Access 31 has closed down, Australian-Media.com.au
  27. ^ Access 31 shut down
  28. ^ Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation - Western Australian Wine

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Australia : Western Australia
Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia
Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia

Western Australia [1] is the largest Australian state, occupying the western third of the continent.

The large majority of the the 2 million inhabitants live on the southwestern area in or close to Perth, its capital and the most isolated city of this size on Earth. Beyond that, Western Australia's vast wilderness is very sparsely populated, with only a handful of townships over a few thousands residents. The state's main attraction resides precisely in its overall remoteness and huge expanses of untouched scenery.

Map of Western Australia
Map of Western Australia
  • In the far North, the remote Kimberley is a huge chunk of wilderness with astounding scenery.
  • The Pilbara is a (hot) mining region, very lightly populated, with various natural attractions that are worth the stop.
  • The coast of the Gascoyne in the middle of the State offers various wonders: the Ningaloo Reef is not as famous as the Great Barrier Reef, but equals or surpasses it in beauty, and Shark Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • A few hundred kilometers inland, the inner area of the state (technically divided between the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West and Goldfields regions) is a huge remote barren desert with little to no population. This area encompasses fully several of the Australian deserts: the Great Sandy Desert, the Little Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert, as well as parts of the Great Victoria Desert and the Tanami Desert. It is extremely challenging to access, and requires a lot of preparation.


These are some of the major towns and cities in Western Australia.

  • Albany, the largest town in the South of the State.
  • Broome, the gateway to the Kimberley and a fashionable tourist destination among Australians.
  • Bunbury, pleasant city of the South West.
  • Esperance in the South, with fine coastline and beaches
  • Exmouth is the gateway to the magnificent Ningaloo Reef
  • Geraldton, the Surfer's Paradise of the West
  • Kalgoorlie-Boulder, a relatively large but full of energy mining town in the East
  • Kununurra, the final stop before you enter the Northern Territory
  • Perth (state capital)
  • The Pinnacles desert, a little over 100km North of Perth, is an eerie landscape of limestone pillars rising from the sand.
  • Kalbarri National Park, 500km North of Perth, is a comparatively easy to access park featuring nice gorges and clifs.
  • Shark Bay, 850km from Perth. Located on the Indian Ocean coast, the Westernmost area of the continent is a UNESCO world heritage site. The visitors can observe stromatolites, some of the oldest living organisms on the planet, as well as marine mammals (including a population of dolphins regularly paying a visit at the shores of Monkey Mia)
  • Mount Augustus, 900 km from Perth, a "rival" of the better-known Uluru in Northern Territory, is often claimed to be the largest monolith on Earth.
  • Coral Bay and Exmouth, 1250km from Perth, are the gateways to the magnificient Ningaloo Reef
  • Karijini National Park, roughly 1500km from Perth, is a major destination in the Pilbara, featuring huge canyons and gorges, and nice hikes through majestic scenery.
  • Roughly halfway between Broome and Port Hedland, the Eighty Mile Beach, facing the Indian Ocean is renown for its shelling at low tides. It is (as its name states clearly) a very long beach, its remoteness accounts for its tranquility. The caravan park (there is only one...) makes for a relaxing stop on the long drive between the Kimberley and the Pilbara, and it is a nice place to enjoy the sunset.
  • Purnululu National Park, approx. 2500 km from Perth, is a recently added UNESCO world heritage site. It is rather tough to access park through a rough 4WD road, but the remoteness of the park is precisely what makes it more attractive. It features the enigmatic Bungle Bungles dome formations.
  • Rottnest Island, directly out to sea in front of Perth, is a popular retreat for locals.
  • Margaret River, 270 km South of Perth, is at heart of a fine winery region.
  • The Wave Rock (a surprising wave-like rock formation) is 370 km due East of Perth and close to the town of Hyden.
  • 400 km South of Perth, close to Albany is the Tree top walk of the Valley of the Giants. An artificial walkway allows for a nice (and safe) walk 40m above the ground in the canopy of the forest.
  • New Norcia, a Benedictine monastery town founded by Spanish Bishop Rosendo Salvado in 1846, 132km north of Perth.



Western Australia covers about third of the total land mass of Australia. It encompasses climatic zones from the monsoonal and tropical north, to the temperate and mediterranean south, and the desert and barren inland. Apart from the south-western coast, the majority of the land is extremely old, eroded, flat, arid and infertile.

The population centres are extremely isolated from one another, and from the other populated zones of Australia. This and the tough environment may account for a more independent spirit than the eastern states.

The vastness of the state is certainly not to be underestimated when planning your trip. If it were a country, it would be in the top 10 by area, as large as Argentina, larger than any African or European country, and twice the size of Alaska. Outside of the Perth area there are less than 500,000 people.

Perth and the south-west corner including the Margaret River and Albany are easily accessible, as is Broome. Much of the rest of the state is accessible too, but requires some planning, and will probably require some long driving.

Time Zone

Western Australia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving is not observed

AWST - Australian Western Standard Time UTC+8

Get in


There are quarantine rules if you are coming from other states. You can not bring fruits and vegetables (including seeds and cuttings) into Western Australia. Frozen fresh is not allowed. Commercially packaged are allowed, and also meat and dairy are allowed. Check beforehand on the Western Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service site [2]. There are quarantine checkpoints set up on the state borders, inspectors board trains into the state and check passengers, and there are checkpoints also at airports. Rules are strictly enforced.

If you are arriving directly from overseas, different quarantine rules apply. See the Australia article for details.

By plane

Perth has the only airport in Western Australia with regular international flights.

The vast majority of interstate flights also land in Perth. However there are a small number of interstate flights to Kalgoorlie, Kununurra, Karratha and Broome. Skywest flies regular flights from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne, however it may still be cheaper to fly Kalgoorlie - Perth - Melbourne depending on the travel dates desired.

By road

Considering the huge distances, driving into Western Australia from anywhere else is an experience by itself.

There are only two sealed roads into Western Australia: in the south, the Eyre Highway is the most direct route from Adelaide to Perth. In the north, the Victoria Highway connects the Kimberley region with the Northern Territory up to Darwin. Both imply extremely long drives. Perth-Adelaide is at least 3 days of driving with stops only to sleep. Darwin-Perth is at least a week.

The unsealed Great Central Road, Tanami Track and Gunbarrel Highway run between the Northern Territory and remote Western Australian towns.

By rail

There is one railway connecting Western Australia with the eastern states. The Indian Pacific [3] train service runs between Sydney and Perth via Kalgoorlie, Adelaide and Broken Hill. Prices are generally more expensive than air travel.

Get around

Unless you have a private plane, be ready to drive a lot to get from point A to point B. There are only a limited number of sealed roads (any map of the state will probably show you all of them), if you plan to leave them to get to more remote areas you will need to consider renting a 4WD. Contact the company to which you rent the vehicle to check the policy concerning driving on unsealed tracks, as you might have to get their authorization. Usually driving a rented conventional (non-4WD) vehicle on an unsealed track is forbidden.

  • Albany Highway. A sealed, main through route Perth to Albany, with few stop or attractions. Scenic alternative via the coastal route.
  • Eyre Highway, from Norseman to South Australia, a very long drive crossing the Nullarbor plain.
  • Great Eastern Highway, from Perth to Kalgoorlie, the main route for travellers.
  • Coolgardie-Esperance Highway, links the Great Eastern Highway with the Eyre Highway & continues south to Esperance.
  • South Coast Highway, from Esperance to just past Walpole.
  • South West Highway, from near Walpole to Perth via Bunbury.
  • Brand Highway, from Perth to Geraldton.
  • North West Coastal Highway, a mainly coastal route from Geraldton to the Great Northern Highway near Port Hedland.
  • Great Northern Highway, up to the the Northern extremity of the state.
  • Victoria Highway, connecting the Great Northern highway to the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory.
Track in Western Australia
Track in Western Australia

These roads are not what most people would call a "highway" or even a "road". They are unsealed and should definitively not be taken lightly, especially if you have no experience in driving off sealed roads in the Australian desert. Be extremely cautious if you decide to attempt these tracks, as they are adventures on their own. Petrol supply is scarce, water is rare and accommodation is close to non-existent. These roads should only be used with thorough research beforehand, and a 4WD is very strongly recommended. On some more remote tracks, it could be weeks until anyone finds you or your body if you break down.

  • The legendary Canning Stock Route is 1800 km long cattle track from Willuna in the northen Goldfields to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, crossing the inner desert parts of the state. It is one of the most remote tracks on the planet, with absolutely no facilities, fuel or food supplies, and runs hundred kilometers from any civilization. Prior fuel dropping arrangements and thorough research about the dangers involved in the crossing are absolute prerequisites. Attempting the track in the summer is madness.
  • The 650 km long Gibb River Road crosses through the heart of Kimberley in the North through majestic scenery.
  • The Gunbarrel Highway crosses the heart of the continent from Wiluna to Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.
  • The comparatively easier Tanami Track crosses the Tanami desert to the Red Centre in Northern Territory.
  • The Great Central Road, regularly graded, may be attempted by strong 2WD (with very cautious and prepared drivers). It crosses several aboriginal lands (for which you will need permits) right to Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.


If WA does not quench your thirst of (harsh) wilderness, it is unlikely that anywhere else in the world will. That said, most visitors stay within the very civilised areas of the southwest corner and Broome, which have nany attractions and well developed facilities.


Besides driving, which can be an experience for some (being on the only sealed road for hundreds of kilometers, without crossing anyone, might be either disturbing or enjoyable to most of Western Europe drivers), WA offers nice surfing on its beaches (around Geraldton for instance).

There are wonderful diving spots in WA. The Ningaloo Reef is probably THE place to dive, but there are other areas scattered along the Indian Ocean coast (even around Perth and Rottnest Island).

  • Serpentine Falls, located a 35 minute drive east of Mandurah, is an excellent place for a swim.


Although you can expect the usual outback delicacies in roadhouses (sandwiches, steaks...), as well as some reasonable options in Perth and the larger towns, including nice seafood, WA is probably not the top destination for a gourmet. A trip in WA will probably require some amount of self-catering, should you decide to get away from Perth and the major centres.


The fairly recent Western Australian wine business may not produce the large quantities of the wineries of the Southeast regions of Australia, but there are a few bustling vineyards that may attract the visitor, especially around Margaret River. All the major vineyards are located to the South of Perth.

In the outback, bring a lot of water with you..

Stay safe

The vastness of Western Australia requires travellers to be particularly careful when going into remote areas (which constitute the majority of the state anyway).

  • When leaving sealed roads and entering remote unsealed tracks, advise someone of your movements (for example the local police) of your expected time/date of arrival, and your travel intentions.
  • Many remote rural and outback areas in Western Australia are home to kangaroos and other mammals, reptiles and birds that will cross the roads, especially at dawn and dusk. So try to avoid driving at these times (kangaroos are most active at these times) and always be alert.
  • There are several 'deadly animals' inhabiting the northern regions of Western Australia. Snakes are widespread throughout all Australia. Saltwater crocodiles live in the water systems of northern Western Australia and these are potential killers, while fresh water crocodiles (called Johnson crocodiles) are much less dangerous, but can still bite your arm! Be extremely cautious near waterholes, riverbeds, etc. Deadly jellyfish can be found in the sea (from Canarvon to Wyndham) in the North, particularly in "the Wet" (the wet season – October to April), so only swim in your hotel pool! Common sense will keep you safe from almost all bad encounters with these creatures. If you don't disturb them, good chances are they won't disturb you.
  • Western Australia is so big that there is a good variety of climates there.
  • In regional Western Australia, ALWAYS carry a lot of water!
  • Although Western Australia is a relatively safe place, be aware that there is a problem with violent nightlife. Late at night, be on your guard in areas such as Northbridge and Fremantle, particularly if you are in a demographic which is considered to be a target, i.e young male or female. Avoid eye (or any) contact with suspicious characters.

Get out

Leaving Western Australia will probably be as hard (or as simple) as getting in, unless you decide to pay a visit to the Principality of Hutt River[4]. By some obscure legal technicality, this small farm near Geraldton successfully declared its independence from Western Australia in the 70s. You can even get a passport, buy rare stamps and coins and if you are lucky you can even meet the Royal Family.

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Western Australia
by John Boyle O'Reilly

O Beauteous Southland! Land of yellow air
That hangeth o've thee slumbering, and doth hold
The moveless foliage of thy valleys fair,
And wooded hills, like aureole of gold.

Oh thou, discovered ere the fitting time,
Ere Nature in completion turned thee forth!
Ere aught was finished but thy peerless clime,
Thy virgin breath allured the amorous North.

O Land, God made thee wondrous to the eye!
But His sweet singers thou hast never heard;
He left thee, meaning to come bye-and-bye,
And give rich voice to every bright-winged bird.

He painted with fresh hues thy myriad flowers,
But left them scentless; ah! their woeful dole,
Like sad reproach of their creator's powers,
To make so sweet fair bodies, void of soul.

He gave thee trees of odorous precious wood;
But, midst them all, bloomed not one tree of fruit.
He looked, but said not that His work was good,
When leaving thee all perfumeless and mute.

He blessed thy flowers with honey; every bell
Looks earthward, sunward, with a yearning wist,
But no bee-lover ever notes the swell
Of hearts, like lips, a-hungering to be kist.

O Strange Land, thou art virgin! Thou art more
Than fig-tree barren! Would that I could paint
For other's eyes the glory of the shore
Where last I saw thee; but the senses faint.

In soft delicious dreaming when they drain
Thy wine of colour. Virgin fair thou art.
All sweetly fruitful, waiting with soft pain
The spouse that comes to wake thy sleeping heart.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WESTERN AUSTRALIA, a British colonial state, forming part of the Commonwealth of Australia. (For Map, see AusTRALIA.) This portion of Australia lies to the west of 12 9 ° E. long., forming considerably more than one-third of the whole; it has an area of i,060,000 sq. m., is 1400 m. in length and 850 in breadth, and has a coast-line of 3500 m. It is divided into five districts - Central, Central Eastern, South-Eastern, North and Kimberley. The Central or settled district, in the southwest, is divided into twenty-six counties. Apart from the coast lands, the map presents almost a blank, as the major portion is practically a dry waste of stone and sand, relieved by a few shallow salt lakes. The rivers of the south are small - the Blackwood being the most considerable. To the north of this are the Murray, the well-known Swan, the Moore, the Greenough and the Murchison. The last is 400 m. long. Shark's Bay receives the Gascoyne (200 m. long), with its tributary the Lyons.

' See T. N. Dale, The Chief Commercial Granites of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island (Washington, 1908), Bulletin 354 of the United States Geological Survey.

Still farther north, where the coast trends eastward, the principal rivers are the Ashburton, the Fortescue and the De Grey. Kimberley district to the north-east has some fine streams - the Fitzroy and Ord and their tributaries, on some of which (the Mary, Elvira, &c.) are the goldfields, 250 m. south of Cambridge Gulf. The Darling mountain range is in the south-west, Mount William reaching 3000 ft.; in the same quarter are Toolbrunup (334 1 ft.), Ellen's Peak (3420), and the Stirling and Victoria ranges. Gardner and Moresby are flat-topped ranges. Mount Elizabeth rises behind Perth. Hampton tableland overlooks the Bight. In the north-west are Mount Bruce (4000 ft.), Augustus (3580), Dalgaranger (2100), Barlee, Pyrton and the Capricorn range. Kimberley has the King Leopold, M`Clintock, Albert Edward, Hardman, Geikie, Napier, Lubbock, Oscar, Mueller and St George ranges. The lake district of the interior is in the Gibson and Victoria. deserts from 24° to 32° S. The lakes receive the trifling drainage of that low region. Almost all of them are salt from the presence of saline marl.

Table of contents


The main mass of Westralia consists of a vast block of Archean rocks, which forms the whole of the western half of the Australian continent. The rocks form a plateau, which faces the coast, in a series of scarps, usually a short distance inland. The edge of this plateau is separated from the Southern Ocean by the Nullarbor limestones, at the head of the Great Australian Bight; but they gradually become narrower to the west; and the Archean rocks reach the coast at Port Dempster and to the east of Esperance Bay. Thence the southern boundary of the Archean rocks extends due west, while the coast trends southward, and is separated by a belt of Lower Palaeozoic and Mesozoic deposits; but the reappearance of the granitic rocks at King George Sound and Albany may be due to an outlier of the Archean tableland. Along the western coast, the scarp of the Archean plateau forms the Darling Range behind Perth. Further north, behind Shark's Bay, the plateau recedes from the coast, and trends north-westward through the Hammersley Mountains and the highlands of Pilbarra. The Archean rocks underlie the Kimberley Goldfield; but they are separated from the main Archean plateau to the south by the Lower Palaeozoic rocks, which extend up the basin of the Fitzroy river and form the King Leopold and Oscar Ranges.

The Archean rocks are of most interest from the auriferous lodes which occur in them. The Archean rocks of the area between the Darling Range and the goldfield of Coolgardie were classified by H. P. Woodward into six parallel belts, running northward and southward, but with a slight trend to the west. The westernmost belt consists of clay slates, quartzites and schists, and is traversed by dykes of diorite and felstone; the belt forms the western foot of the Archean plateau, along the edge of the coastal plain. The second belt consists of gneisses and schists, and forms the western part of the Archean plateau. Its chief mineral deposit is tin, in the Green-bushes tin-field, and various other minerals, such as graphite and asbestos. Then follows a wide belt of granitic rocks; it has no permanent surface water and is bare of minerals, and, therefore, formed for a long time an effective barrier to the settlement or prospecting of the country to the east. This granitic band ends to the east in the first auriferous belt, which extends from the Phillips river, on the southern coast, to Southern Cross, on the Perth to Kalgoorlie railway; thence it goes through Mount Magnet, Lake Austin and the Murchison Goldfield at Nannine, and through the Peak Goldfield to the heads of the Gascoyne and Ashburton rivers. To the east of this belt is a barren band of granites and gneisses, succeeded again eastward by the second auriferous belt, including the chief goldfields of Westralia. They begin on the south with the Dundas Goldfield, and the mining centre of Norseman; then to the north follow the goldfields of Kalgoorlie, with its Golden Mile at Boulder, and the now less important field of Coolgardie. This line continues thence through the goldfields of Leonora and Mount Margaret, and reappears behind the western coast in the Pilbarra Goldfield. The rocks of the goldfields consist of amphobolite-schists and other basic schists, traversed by dykes of granite, diorite and porphyrite, with some peridotites. Some of the amphibolites have been crushed and then silicified into jasperoids, so that they much resemble altered sedimentary slates.

The Palaeozoic group is represented by the Cambrian rocks of the Kimberley Goldfield, which have yielded Olenellus forresti. There appear to be no certain representatives of the Ordovician system; while the Silurian is represented in the King Leopold Range of Kimberley, and, according to H. P. Woodward, in the contorted, unfossilliferous quartzites and shales of the Stirling Range, north of Albany. The Upper Palaeozoic is well represented by an area of some 2000 sq. m. of Devonian sedimentary and volcanic rocks in the Kimberley district, and by the Carboniferous system, including both a lower, marine type, and an upper, terrestrial type. The Lower Carboniferous limestones occur in the Napier, Oscar and Geikie Ranges of Kimberley, and in the basin of the Gascoyne river, where they contain the glacial deposits discovered by Gibb-Maitland, between the Wooramel and Minilya rivers. The upper and terrestrial type of the Carboniferous include sandstones with Stigmaria and Lepidodendron in the Kimberley district, and the coals of the Irwin coalfield, the age of which is proved by the interstratification of the coal seams with beds containing Productus subquadratus, Cyrtina carbonaria and Aviculopecten sub quinquelineatus. The Mesozoic rocks were discovered in 1861, and their chief outcrop is along the western coast plains of Westralia between Geraldton and Perth. They have been pierced by many bores put down for artesian wells. The fossils indicate a Lower Jurassic age; and, according to Etheridge, some of the fossils are Lower Cretaceous. The Collie coalfield, to the east of Bunbury, is generally regarded as Mesozoic. Its coal is inferior in quality to that of Eastern Australia, and contains on an average of 34 analyses 11.77% of moisture, and 8.62% of ash. According to Etheridge its age is Permo-Carboniferous. The Kainozoic rocks include the marine limestones in the Nullarbor Plains at the head of the Great Australian Bight, whence they extend inland for 150 m. They have no surface water, but the rainfall in this district nourishes artesian wells. The occurrence of marine Kainozoic beds under the western coastal plain is proved by the bores, as at Carnarvon, where they appear to be over moo ft. in thickness. The coastal region also includes sheets of clay and sandstone, with deposits of brown coal as on the Fitzgerald river on the southern coast, and in the basin of the Gascoyne. The Archean plateau of the interior is covered by wide sheets of subaerial and lacustrine deposits, which have accumulated in the basins and river valleys. They include mottled clays, lateritic ironstones and conglomerates. In places the materials have been roughly assorted by river action, as in the deep lead of Kanowna. The clays contain the bones of the Diprotodon, so that they are probably of Upper Pliocene or Pleistocene age. The Kainozoic volcanic period of Australia is represented by the basalts of Bunbury and Black Point, east of Flinders Bay.

A bibliography of Westralian geology has been issued by Maitland, Bulletin Geol. Survey, No. I, 1898. An excellent summary of the mineral wealth of the state has been given by Maitland, Bulletin 8, No. 4, 1900, pp. 7-23, also issued in the Year-book of Western Australia. The main literature of the geology of Westralia is in the Bulletins of the Geol. Survey, and in the reports of the Mines Department. A general account of the gold-mining has been given by A. G. Charleton, 1902; and also by Donald Clark, Australian Mining and Metallurgy (1904). (J. W. G.) Flora. - Judged by its vegetable forms, Western Australia would seem to be older than eastern Australia, South Australia being of intermediate age. Indian relations appear on the northern side, and South African on the western. There are fewer Antarctic and Polynesian representatives than in the eastern colonies. European forms are extremely scarce. Compared with the other side of Australia, a third of the genera on the south-west is almost wanting in the south-east. In the latter, 55, having more than ten species each, have 1260 species; but the former has as many in 55 of its 80 genera. Of those 55, 36 are wanting in the south-east, and 17 are absolutely peculiar. There are fewer natural orders and genera westward, but more species. Baron von Muller declared that ` nearly half of the whole vegetation of the Australian continent has been traced to within the boundaries of the Western Australian territory." He includes 9 Malvaceae, 6 Euphorbiaceae, 2 Rubiaceae, 9 Proteaceae, 47 Leguminosae, 10 Myrtaceae, 12 Compositae, 5 Labiatae, 6 Cyperaceae, 13 Convolvulaceae, 16 Gramineae, 3 Filices, 10 Amaranthaceae. Yet over 500 of its tropical species are identified with those of India or Indian islands. While seventenths of the orders reach their maximum south-west, three-tenths do so south-east. Cypress pines abound in the north, and ordinary pines in Rottnest Island. Sandalwood (Santalum cygnorum) is exported. The gouty stem baobab (Adansonia) is in the tropics. Xanthorrhoea, the grass tree, abounds in sandy districts. Mangrove bark yields a purple tan. Palms and zamias begin in the northwest. The Melaleuca Leucadendron is the paperbark tree of settlers. The rigid-leafed Banksia is known as the honeysuckle. Casuarinae are the he and she oaks of colonists, and the Exocarpus is their cherry tree. Beautiful flowering shrubs distinguish the south-west; and the deserts are all ablaze with flowers after a fall of rain. Poison plants are generally showy Leguminosae, Sida and the Gastrolobium. The timber trees of the south-west are almost unequalled. Of the Eucalypts, the jarrah or mahogany, E. marginate, is first for value. It runs over five degrees of latitude, and its wood resists the teredo and the ant. Sir Malcolm Fraser assigns 14,000 sq. m. to the jarrah, 10,000 to E. viminalis, 2300 to the karri (E. colossea or E. diversicolor), 2400 to York gum (E. loxophleba), 800 to the red gum (E. calophylla) and 500 to tuart or native pear (E. gomphocephala). Not much good wood is got within 20 m. of the coast. The coachbuilder's coorup rises over 300 ft. Morrel furnishes good timber and rich oil. An ever-increasing trade is done in the timber of the south-western forests.


Among the mammals are the Macropus M. irma, M. dama, M. brachyurus, Lagorchestes fasciatus, Bettongia penicillata, Phalangista vulpecula, Pseudochirus cooki, Dasyurus geoffroyi, Tarsipes rostratus, Antechinus apicalis, Perameles obesula, Perameles myosurus, Myrmecobius fasciatus. Fossil forms partake of the existing marsupial character, Diprotodon being allied to the wombat and kangaroo. Nail-bearing kangaroos are in the northwest; the banded one, size of a rabbit, is on Shark's Bay. Nocturnal phalangers live in holes of trees or in the ground. Carnivorous Phascogalae are found in south-west. There are three kinds of wombat. The rock-loving marsupial Osphranter is only in the north-east, and Perameles bougainvillei at Shark's Bay. The dalgyte or Petrogale lagotis is at Swan river and Hypsiprymnus in the south. The colony has only two species of wallabies to five in New South Wales. The Halmaturus of the Abrolhos is a sort of wallaby; a very elegant species is 18 in. long. The pretty Dromicia, 6 in. long, lives on stamens and nectar, like the Tarsipes, having a brush at the tip of its tongue; its tail is prehensile. The hare-like Lagorchestes fasciatus is a great leaper. The Hapalotis of the interior has nests in trees. Beaver rats and other small rodents are troublesome, and bats are numerous. The dingo is the wild dog. The platypus (Ornithorhynchus) and the Echidna are the only forms of the Monotremata. The seal, whale and dugong occur in the adjacent seas.

The west is not so rich as the east of Australia in birds. Many forms are absent and others but poorly represented, though some are peculiar to the west. The timbered south-west has the greatest variety of birds, which are scarce enough in the dry and treeless interior. Of lizards the west has 12 genera not found in eastern Australia. Of snakes there are but 15 species to 3 in Tasmania and 31 in New South Wales. While the poisonous sorts are 2 to I in the east, they are 3 to 1 in the west. The turtle is obtained as an article of food. The freshwater fishes are not all like those of the east. They include the mullet, snapper, ring fish, guard fish, bonita, rock cod, shark, saw fish, parrot fish and cobbler. Under the head of fisheries may be mentioned the pearl oyster, which is dived for by natives at Shark's Bay; the trepang or beche-de-mer is also met with in the north. Insects are well represented, especially Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Hemiptera and Diptera.


With little or no cold anywhere, the heat of summer over the whole area is considerable. Western Australia differs from the country to the east in having no extensive ranges to collect vapour, while the trade winds blow off the dry land instead of from the ocean; for these two reasons the climate is very dry. Thunderstorms often supply almost the only rainfall in the interior. The south-western corner, the seat of settlements, is the only portion where rains can be depended on for cultivation; but even there few places have a rainfall of 40 in. As one goes northward the moisture lessens. The north-west and all the coast along to Kimberley, with most of that district, suffer much from dryness. The north-east comes in summer within the sphere of the north-west monsoons, though just over the low coast-range few showers are known. The south coast, exposed to polar breezes, with uninterrupted sea, has to endure lengthened droughts. In the Swan river quarter the rainfall is in winter, being brought by north-west winds, and summer days have little moisture. While the south wind cools the settled region, it comes over the parched interior to the northern lands. The hot wind of Swan river is from the east and north-east; but it is from the south in summer to Kimberley and the north-west. In one season the land breeze is hot, in another cool, but always dry.

The climate of Perth is typical of the south-western districts. There are two distinct seasons, the winter and the summer. The winter commences somewhat abruptly, being ushered in by heavy rains; it begins usually not earlier than the middle of April or later than the middle of May, and continues until towards the end of October. The winters are, as a rule, very mild, but there is some cold weather in July and August, and though there is little at the coast, frost is not uncommon inland. The summer is heralded by an occasional hot day in October, in November the weather becomes settled and continues warm until the end of March. In the four months, December to March, the maximum temperature in the shade exceeds 90° on an average on 37 days, but as a rule the heat does not last long, the evenings and nights being tempered by a cool breeze.

In the interior the climate resembles that of the south-west in regard to the occurrence of two seasons only. The winter, however, has much less rain than on the coast, and is cold, clear and bracing. The summer is, as a rule, hot, but is tempered in the south by occasional cool changes, though unrelieved as the tropic is approached. Within the tropics there are two seasons, the wet and the dry. The wet season is most unpleasant, the temperature rarely falling below 100°; the dry season, which lasts from April to November, is usually fine, clear and calm. The average rainfall at Perth is 33 in. falling on 110 days; the mean maximum temperature is 74-9° and the minimum 54.8°; at Coolgardie the mean maximum is 77.8° and the mean minimum 52.4°; at Wyndham, on the north-west coast, the mean maximum is 93.9° and the minimum 75.4° Population. - Population made very slow increase under the old conditions of settlement, and even when gold was discovered in 1882 at Kimberley, and five years later at Yilgarn, no great impetus was given to the colony, and at the census of 1891 the population was still under 50,000. The sensational gold finds at Coolgardie in 1892, however, had a most important influence in drawing population, and in three and a half years the population was doubled: during a portion of this time the rush of miners to the gold-fields was so great as to be reminiscent of the experience of the eastern colonies during the 'fifties. At the end of 1905 the population was 254,779, comprising 150,495 males and 104,284 females. The slowness of the early growth and the more rapid strides of later years will be gathered from the following figures: pop. (1860) 15,227, (1870) 25,084, (1880) 29,019, (1890) 46,290, (1895) 101,238, (1901) 194,889. The chief towns of Western Australia are: Perth - the capital-56,000, Fremantle 23,008, Kalgoorlie 6780, Boulder 5658. The number of people in all gold-field towns fluctuates very greatly. Coolgardie, for example, was returned in July 1894 as having within its municipal boundaries 12,000 people; in 1905 it had only 3830.

The births during 1905 numbered 7582 and the deaths 2709, the rates per thousand of population being respectively 30.30 and 10 83, showing a net increment of 19.47 per moo. In the period 1861-1865 the birth-rate was 39.07 per moo. Between 1886 and 1890 it stood at 36.88; then came a rapid decline, and in 1896 was reached the low level of 22.67 per moo. In 1904 the rate was 3 0.34 per moo. The decline in the birth-rates has been a common experience of all the Australian states; in Western Australia it was due in a large degree to the decline in the proportion of females to males. In 1870 the females numbered 62 O of the males, and in 1880 75%, while in 1895 the proportion was only 45%. The illegitimate births during 1905 were 4.19% of the total births. The death-rate, which in 1897 was 16.99 per woo, has steadily declined in recent years. The large influx of young unmarried men in the years1894-1898was followed by the arrival of a large number of single women, and the marriage-rates increased from 7 per moo in the five years1891-1895to 10.7 per woo in 1897. In 1905 the rate stood at the more normal level of 8.48. Except for a slight influx of population in the three years 1885-1887, due to the gold discoveries at Kimberley, there was very little immigration to Western Australia prior to 1891; in that year, however, there was a considerable inpouring of population from the eastern colonies, notably from Victoria and South Australia, and in the seven years which closed with 1897 the population of the colony gained nearly iio,000 by immigration alone. In 1898 there was still a large inflow of population, but the outflow was also great, and in 1898 and the following year the two streams balanced one another; but 1900 showed an excess of 6000, and 1905 of 7617 gained by immigration.

Western Australia is the most sparsely populated of all the states; only the coastal fringe and the gold-fields show any evidences of settlement, and if the area were divided amongst the population there would be but ten persons to 52 sq. m. The population is almost exclusively of British origin, and only differs from that of the other states in that there is a larger body of Australian-born, who are not natives of the colony itself. About 45% of the population are members of the Church of England; one-fourth belong to other Protestant denominations, and one-fourth are Roman Catholics.


In 1890 Western Australia, up to that time a crown colony administered by a governor, was granted responsible government. The legislative authority is vested in a parliament composed of two Houses - a Legislative Council, whose thirty members are elected for six years, and a Legislative Assembly of fifty members, elected by adult suffrage (men and women). As a portion of the Commonwealth, Western Australia sends six senators and five representatives to the federal parliament. In a country so sparsely settled municipal government has little scope for operation.

So far forty-four municipalities have been gazetted. Besides the municipalities there are district roads boards, elected by the ratepayers of their respective districts to take charge of the formation, construction and maintenance of the public roads throughout their districts. There were in 1905 ninety-four such boards in existence. Some of the districts are of enormous size. Pilbarra, for example, has an area of 14,356 sq. m.; Coolgardie North has 75,968 sq. m.; Nullagine has 90,438 sq. m., and the Upper Gascoyne has 136,000 sq. m. Over areas so vast little effective work can be accomplished, but where the districts are small the administration is much the same as in the municipalities. The receipts from rates of all local districts in 1905 was £104,760, and the grants by the government £80,938, making a total of £185,698.


Attendance at school is compulsory upon all children over six years and under fourteen years of age. Instruction is imparted only in secular subjects, but the law allows special religious teaching to be given during half an hour each day by clergymen to children of their own denomination. Children can claim free education on account of inability to pay fees, of living more than a mile from school, or of having attended school for more than 400 half-days during the preceding year. The state expended in 1905 £131,585 on public instruction, the great bulk of which was devoted to primary schools. The number of schools supported by the state in that year was 335, the teachers numbered 888, the net enrolment of scholars was 27,978, and the average attendance 23,703. There were in 1905 99 private schools with 350 teachers and 7353 scholars, the average attendance being 6128.

Judged by the number of persons arrested, crime is more prevalent than in any other part of Australia. The gold-fields have attracted some of the best and most enterprising of the Australian population; at the same time many undesirable persons flocked to the state expecting to reap a harvest in the movement and confusion of the gold diggings. These latter form a large part of the criminal population of the state. The arrests in 1905 numbered 14,646, of which 2104 were for serious offences; so that for every thousand of the population 49 were arrested for trivial and 8 for serious crimes.


The discovery of gold and the settlement on the goldfields of a large population, for the most part consumers of dutiable goods, has entirely revolutionized the public finances of the state. In 1891 the revenue was £497,670, that is, £10, 15s. per inhabitant; in 1895 it rose to £1,125,941, or £12, 10s. per inhabitant; and in 1897 to £2,842,751, or £20, 12s. per inhabitant. For 1905 the figures were £3,615,340, or £14, 18s. 5d. per inhabitant. The chief sources of revenue in 1905 were: customs and excise, £1,027,898; other taxation, £221,738; railways, £1,629,956; public lands (including mining), £207,905; all other sources, £527,843. The expenditure has risen with the revenue, the figures for 1905 being £ 3,745, 22 4, equal to £15, 9s. 2d. per head of population. The chief items of expenditure in 1905 were: railway working expenses, £ 1, 2 97,499; public works, £337,927; interest and charges upon debt, £578,704; mines, £248,496; education, £149,552. The public debt is of comparatively recent creation. In August 1872 an act was passed authorizing the raising of certain sums for the construction of public works; in 1881 the amount owing was not more than £511,000, and in 1891 only £1,613,000 or £30, 5s. 8d. per inhabitant; from the y ear last named the indebtedness has increased by leaps and bounds, and in 1905 had mounted up to £16,642,773, a sum equal to £66, 10s. 4d. per inhabitant, involving an interest charge of £574,406 or £2, 5s. id. per inhabitant. The proceeds of the loans were used largely for the purpose of railway extension - the expenditure on this service at the middle of 1906 was £9,618,970; on water supply and sewerage works, £2,892,390; on telegraphs and telephones, £269,308; on harbour and river improvements, 2,182,529; on development of gold-fields, £973,082; on development of agriculture, £597,189.


The local defence force of Western Australia in 1905 comprised 57 permanent artillerymen, 772 militia, 580 volunteers, and 2534 riflemen - a total of 3943. The defence of the state is undertaken by the federal government.


Gold-mining is the main industry, and in 1905 16,832 miners were directly engaged in it; as large a number is indirectly engaged in the industry. Gold, silver, coal, tin and copper are the chief minerals mined; the mineral production of the state in 1905 was valued at £8,555,841. The value of the gold produced was £ 8,305,654, a falling off of £118,572 as compared with 1904. The dividends paid by the gold-mining companies for that year amounted to £2,167,639 as against £2,050,547 in 1904. Up to 1905 the total recorded mineral production of Western Australia amounted in value to £65,012,499 - gold representing £63,170,911 of that sum; while £13,739,842 had been paid in dividends.

Western Australia ranks as the largest gold producer of the Australian group. Coal is worked at Collie, 25 m. E. of Bunbury; boring operations which had been going on between Greenough and Mullewa on the Geraldton-Cue railway line were discontinued in 1905, the bore hole, carried to a depth of 1418 ft. having failed to disclose any coal seams. The export of copper in 1905 was valued at £16,266; of tin, £86,840; of silver, £44,278. The value of the coal produced in that year was £55,312.


The agricultural possibilities of the state are more restricted than those of the eastern states, as the rainfall in the southern and temperate portion does not extend far from the coast, and the land where the fall is satisfactory is only good over small areas. The area cultivated in 1871 was 52,000 acres; in 1881 it was 53,000 acres; in 1891, 64,000 acres; and in 1905, 467,122 acres. The principal crops grown in the year last named were: wheat, 195,071 acres; oats, 15,713 acres; hay, 124,906124,906 acres. The wheat yield was 11.83 bushels per acre, and the hay crop 1.12 tons per acre. In 1905 the number of sheep depastured was 3,120,703; cattle, 631,825; horses, 97,397. These figures show an increase for all classes of stock. There are in the state about 2000 camels. The number of sheep has increased considerably in late years. In 1871, 2,000,000 lb of wool were exported; in 1881, 4,100,000 lb; in 1891, 8,800,000 lb; in 1900, 9,514,000 lb; and in 1905, 1 7,4 8 9,4 02 lb; the value of the latter being £594,872.

Western Australia has very extensive forests of timber, and it has been estimated that the forest surfaces cover more than 20 million acres, of which 8 million acres are jarrah; 1,200,000 acres, karri; 200,000 acres, tuart; 7 million acres, wandoo; and 4 million acres, York gum, yate, sandalwood and jam. The principal timber exported is jarrah, karri, and sandalwood, the value of the exports being about £656,000 annually. There are 30 saw-mills in operation, employing altogether 2750 hands.

Fisheries are taking an important position; they comprise pearl shell fishing beche-de-mer, and preserved or tinned fish. The pearl shell fisheries in the north-west and in Shark's Bay have been a considerable source of wealth, the export of pearls and pearl shell being valued at £110,667 in 1899, £106,607 in 1900 and £171,237 in 1903. In 1892 the export was valued at £119,519.

Mandurah, at the mouth of the Murray, and Fremantle have preserving sheds for mullet and snapper. Guano beds are worked to much advantage at the Lacepede Isles. Salt is produced largely at Rottnest Island. Raisins are dried, and the oil of castor trees is expressed. The mulberry tree succeeds well, and sericulture is making progress. Dugong oil is got from Shark's Bay. Honey and wax are becoming valuable exports; from the abundance of flowers the hives can be emptied twice a year. Manna and gums of various kinds are among the resources of the country. Among the wines made are the Riesling, Burgundy, Sweetwater, Hock and Fontainebleau.


All the great lines of steamers trading between Australia and Europe make one of the ports a place of call both on the inward and outward voyage; this makes the shipping tonnage very large compared with the population. In 1891 the tonnage entered and cleared equalled 21 tons per head, and in 1905 14.3 tons. The increase of tonnage is shown by the following figures: 1881, tonnage entered, 145,048; 1891, 533,433; 1905, 1,839,227. In 1905 the tonnage entering Fremantle was 1,176,982, and the imports were valued at £6,030,415 The shipping entering Albany had a tonnage of 519,377, and the imports were valued at £160,305. The trade of Bunbury was: shipping 92,281 tons, imports £59,197; Broome, shipping 32,191 tons, imports £48,653; other ports, shipping 18,396 tons, imports £182,739.





Per Head.


Per Head.

£ s. d.

£ s. d.



9 9 8


6 2 10



9 O 1


8 6 II





17 0 8



25 2 5





34 4 5


45 3 0



25 18 I


39 9 I

The trade has increased very rapidly under the influence of the gold discoveries, as the following figures show: - About 54% of the trade is with Great Britain and 21% with the other Commonwealth states.


Western Australia is the only state of Australia in which there is any considerable length of railway lines not owned by the state. The total railway mileage in 1905 was 2260, of which 655 m. were privately owned. The divergence of the policy of Western Australia from that pursued by other states was caused by the inability of the government to construct lines at a time when the extension of the railway was most urgently required in the interests of settlement. Private enterprise was therefore encouraged by liberal grants of land to undertake the work of construction. Changed conditions have modified the state policy in respect of land grants, and in 1897 the government acquired the Great Southern railway, 243 m. in length, one of the two trunk lines in private hands. The cost of constructing and equipping the state lines open for traffic in 1905 was £9,808,458; the earnings for that year amounted to £1,610,129, the working expenses were £1,256,003, and the net receipts £354,126; this represents a return of 3.61% upon the capital cost.

Posts and Telegraphs

The postal business has grown enormously since the gold discoveries. In 1905 there were 295 post offices as compared with 86 in 1891. In the latter year the letters despatched and received numbered 3,200,000, and the newspapers 1,665,000; in 1905 the letters and postcards totalled 22,107,000, and the newspapers and packets 14,800,000, being respectively 88 and 59 per head of population. There were in the same year 188 telegraph stations, 6389 m. of line, and 9637 m. of telegraph wire in use, while the number of telegrams sent and received was 1,634,597. There were sixteen public telephone exchanges and 4857 telephones in use at the end of that year.


There are six banks of issue, with 109 branches in various parts of the country. The liabilities of these banks in 1904 averaged £5,206,170, and the assets £6,399,305; the note circulation was £354,810; the deposits bearing interest £1,475,616; deposits not bearing interest £3,258,294, making the total deposits £4733,910. The gold and silver held by the banks, including bullion, was £ 2,129,304. The savings banks are directly controlled by the government and are attached to the post offices; in 1904 there were 54, 8 73 depositors in these banks with £2,079,764 to their credit - an average of £37, 18s. per depositor. In 1891 there were only 35 6 4 depositors and £46,181 at credit.


- James Bonwick, Western Australia, its Past and Future, 8vo (London, 1885); Very Rev. J. Brady, Descriptive Vocabulary of the Native Language of Western Australia (Rome, 1845); Hon. D. W. Carnegie, Spinifex and Sand (London, 1898); Ernest Favenc, The Great Australian Plain, 8vo (Sydney, 1881), Western Australia, its Past History, Present Trade and Resources, &c. (Sydney, 1887); Sir John Forrest, Explorations in Australia, 8vo (London, 1875); M. A. C. Frazer, Western Australia Year-Book, annually (Perth). (T. A. C.) History. - Both the western and northern coasts of the colony are pretty accurately laid down on maps said to date from 1540 to 1550, where the western side of the continent terminates at Cape Leeuwen. The discovery of the coast may be attributed to Portuguese and Spanish navigators, who were in the seas northward of Australia as early as 1520. The next visitors, nearly a century later, were the Dutch. John Edel explored northward in 1619, and De Witt in 1628. The " Gulde Zeepaard " in 1627 sailed along the south coast for 1000 m., the territory being named Nuyt's Land. Tasman made a survey of the north shore in 1644, but did not advance far on the western border. Dampier was off the north-west in 1688 and 1696, naming Shark's Bay. Vancouver entered King George Sound in 1791. The French, under D'Entrecasteaux, were off Western Australia in 1792; and their commodore Baudin, of the " Geographe " and " Naturaliste," in 1801 and 1802 made important discoveries along the western and north-western shores. Captain Flinders about the same time paid a visit to the Sound, and traced Nuyt's Land to beyond the South Australian boundary. Freycinet went thither in 1818. Captain King surveyed the northern waters between 1818 and 1822.

The earliest settlement was made from Port Jackson, at the end of 1825. Owing to a fear that the French might occupy King George Sound, Major Lockyer carried thither a party of convicts and soldiers, seventy-five in all, and took formal British possession, though Vancouver had previously done so. Yet the Dutch had long before declared New Holland, which then meant only the western portion of Australia, to be Dutch property. This convict establishment returned to Sydney in 1829. In 1827 Captain Stirling was sent to report upon the Swan river, and his narrative excited such interest in England as to lead to an actual free settlement at the Swan river. Captain Fremantle, R.N., in 1827 took official possession of the whole country. Stirling's account stimulated the emigration ardour of Sir F. Vincent, and Messrs Peel, Macqueen, &c., who formed an association, securing from the British government permission to occupy land in Western Australia proportionate to the capital invested, and the number of emigrants they despatched thither. In this way Mr Peel had a grant of 250,000 acres, and Colonel Latour of 103,000. Captain (afterwards Sir James) Stirling was appointed lieutenant-governor, arriving June 1, 1829. The people were scattered on large grants. The land was poor, and the forests heavy; provisions were at famine prices; and many left for Sydney or Hobart Town. The others struggled on, finding a healthful climate, and a soil favouring fruits and vegetables, whilst their stock grazed in the more open but distant quarters. The overland journey of Eyre from Adelaide to King George Sound in 1839-1840, through a waterless waste, discouraged settlers; but Grey's overland walk in 1838 from Shark's Bay to Perth revealed fine rivers and good land in Victoria district, subsequently occupied by farmers, graziers and miners. The difficulties of the settlers had compelled them to seek help from the British treasury, in the offer to accept convicts. These came in 1850; but transportation ceased in 1868, in consequence of loud protests from the other colonies.

The progressive history of Western Australia may be said to commence in 1870, when its energetic and capable governor, Sir Frederick Weld, began to inaugurate public works on a large scale. It was still the day of small things, for the colony, though of the enormous extent of i,oco,000 sq. m., was practically unknown, its resources were restricted, and its population scanty. However, a beginning was then made, and the first Loan Bill to raise money for pushing on telegraphs, for surveying lines of projected railways, and above all for starting exploring expeditions, passed the Legislative Council. The colony was fortunate in possessing two brothers of the best practical type of explorer, John and Alexander Forrest. The object of their earliest expeditions was to find more land available for pastoral or agricultural settlement. Vast distances in various directions were covered, and severe hardships, chiefly from want of water, undergone by these intrepid pioneers. Perhaps the most famous of these journeys was that accomplished by Mr (afterwards Sir) John Forrest between Eucla and Adelaide in 1870. Other dauntless explorers - notably Mr Ernest Giles, the Gregorys and Mr Austin - had also contributed to the growing knowledge of the resources of the vast territory, and the state owes and gratefully acknowledges its debt to these stalwart and splendid pioneers. Although, in consequence of the vast amount of gold which had been found in the eastern colonies, principally in Victoria, all these explorers had carefully examined any likely country for traces of gold, it was not until 1882 that the government geologist reported indications of auriferous country in the Kimberley district, and the first payable gold-field was shortly afterwards " proclaimed " there. Exploring expeditions in every direction were then started both privately and publicly, and prosecuted with great vigour. Within five years gold-fields were proclaimed at Yilgarn, about 200 m. to the east of Perth, and the discovery of patches of rich alluvial gold in the Pilbarra district quickly followed, but the rush for the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie gold-fields did not begin until 1893.

The year 1889 found the colony on the eve of responsible government. Two years before, a practically unanimous vote of the Legislature had affirmed the principle of autonomy, and the general election in the following year showed still more plainly the desire of the people of Western Australia for the self-government which had enabled the eastern colonies to control their own affairs successfully for thirty years. The new Legislative Council of 1889 therefore drafted a Constitution Bill, which after some discussion was forwarded to Lord Knutsford, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. This Bill was duly laid before the Imperial Parliament; but the measure was then rejected by that assembly, chiefly owing to the misunderstanding of vital questions, such as the control of crown lands, the scantiness of the scattered population, and other less important details. However, the governor of that day, Sir Frederick Napier Broome, K.C.M.G., having satisfied himself that the constitutional change was necessary not only for the immediate needs of the rapidly growing colony, but in view of the larger question of Imperial Federation, supported the demands of the Legislature in every possible way. A clear and able statement of the colonists' case, which appeared above his signature in The Times in the summer of that year, helped to bring about a better understanding of the subject; and a slightly modified Constitution Bill having been passed by the new Legislative Council, the governor and two members of the Legislature (Sir T. C. Campbell and Mr S. H. Parker, Q.C.) were selected to proceed to England as delegates to explain and urge the wishes of the colonists upon the Imperial Parliament. A select committee, with Baron de Worms as chairman, was appointed, and the matter was carefully considered; with the satisfactory result that the Bill 'enabling the Queen to grant a constitution to Western Australia passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 4th July, and received the royal assent on 15th August 1890.

Since then the colony has made great progress. Sir John Forrest, who was for ten years its Premier, brought to his arduous task not only administrative ability of a very high order, but a thorough and intimate knowledge of the needs and resources of the vast colony over so much of which he had travelled.

For a long time the advantages of Federation were not so apparent to the people of Western Australia as to those of the eastern colonies, and although Sir John Forrest consistently and patiently laboured at every opportunity to explain the principles of the Bill framed by the Federal Convention which had held its sittings since. 1886 in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, the desire to federate was of slow growth. Among the objections was the feeling that so far as Western Australia was concerned the step was premature, and that the colony had more to lose than gain by Federation. This applied chiefly to the questions of tariff and free trade, and to the loss of the individual control of such sources of revenue as customs, postal and telegraph services. On the subject of defence there could be but one opinion, in favour of Federation, but that was hardly enough to counterbalance the fears of the local producer, who had become accustomed to a protective tariff. Then the gold-fields expressed a desire to be made into a separate colony, and although a numerously signed petition to that effect was forwarded to the Queen, it was regarded in the light of a party move, and did not prove successful. Still there was great hesitation on the part of many of the colonists of Western Australia to join the Commonwealth without receiving a pledge for the retention of their own customs dues for five years, and early in 1900 Sir John Forrest made a personal attempt to obtain this concession from the sister governments. He was, however, unsuccessful, as was Mr S. H. Parker, Q.C., who in the same year accompanied the delegates from the eastern colonies to London, and endeavoured to obtain the insertion in the Enabling Bill of certain recommendations of the select committee in Perth. Yet as a whole the people of Western Australia were loyal to the Federal cause, and therefore it was considered best to submit the Bill to a referendum of the electors, when a majority of over 25,000 votes decided in favour of Federation, as the Constitution Act provided that this state should have the right to enact her own tariff as against the sister states for the desired five years, decreasing annually at the rate of one-fifth of the amount of the original duty until the whole disappeared. (M. A. B.)

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun

Western Australia


Western Australia

  1. One of the six states of Australia, occupying the western third of the content, with its capital at Perth.

Related terms

  • sandgroper (colloquial) for persons from the state


See also


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

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Western Australia occupies the western third of the Australian mainland.

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File:WA in Australia
Western Australia

Western Australia is one of the six states of Australia. It is the biggest state in Australia measured by amount of land. It has a population of about two million people. Its capital city is Perth.



Before 1900

In 1827, a Captain in the British army, James Stirling, sailed up the Swan River and liked what he saw. He told the British government, and in 1829, Britain sent settlers to Western Australia. On June 18, 1829, the new Governor James Stirling claimed all the land of Australia that was not already included in New South Wales as the new colony of Western Australia.[1] as well as many buildings for the government. In 1868, Britain stopped sending convicts.


Until 1901, Australia did not exist - it was six separate colonies governed by Britain. This worked well when everybody was British and there were only a few people. But now there were thousands of people and many of them had never been to Britain, an eight month journey away by sea.

They decided to join together to form one new country, the Commonwealth of Australia. This was called Federation, and happened in 1901. Western Australia did not want to join, because the other colonies were thousands of kilometres away. They joined when the other colonies promised to build a railway to Perth.

Secession referendum

In 1933, the Western Australian people did not want to be part of Australia any more. The main reason was that Western Australia had to give money to the rest of Australia to pay for national services like the army and education, but they were not seeing the benefits. As well, the Great Depression had happened and many people were homeless and poor all over the world, including Western Australia.

The government decided to hold a referendum and ask the people whether they wanted to start their own country, and 68% said yes. However, the rest of Australia and the British Parliament stopped it. Even today, the indian Western Australians do not want to be part of Australia but they have to cause they are connected to it.

Modern history

After that, things got back to normal. The Great Depression ended and the Second World War began, and many Western Australians went off to fight. Some of them had to stay here, because in 1942, the Japanese bombed the town of Broome in the far north.

When the war ended, a lot of people from Europe who had lost their homes in the war came to Western Australia, as land was still very cheap. In the 1960s, iron ore was found in the north of the state, which could be made into steel. This discovery made Western Australia very rich, and iron ore still brings in a lot of money.

Perth grew from being a small town to being a big city in just 30 years. By 1985 it had over a million people and is still getting bigger today. Due to the mining boom in the state, there has been an influx of people from the Eastern states to take advantage of the higher wages in industry.

Other websites


  1. Bereson, Itiel (2001). Building The Nation: From colonies to federation. Port Melbourne: Echidna Books. pp. pg8. ISBN 1863912665. 
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