Western Australia is one of Australia’s six states on the west coast of the continent. It borders South Australia to the east and the Northern Territory to the north. Western Australia has a total area of about 2.5 million square kilometers and is the largest state in Australia.
The main city and capital of Western Australia is Perth, which is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Perth is a modern city with a high standard of living and a rich cultural scene. It is also famous for its beaches and national parks.
Western Australia is also known for its diverse wildlife and unique animals, including kangaroos, koalas, sea turtles, and more. The region also has many attractions for tourists, such as King’s Gorge, Kalgoorlie National Park, Margaret River Caves, and more.
Aborigines arrived on the Australian mainland more than 50,000 years ago from the islands of the Indonesian archipelago – at that time the level of the ocean was lower than now, and the sea route was shorter for rafts of future Australians.
But Europeans appeared off the coast of Australia only in the XVII century.
The west coast of the continent was discovered on October 25, 1616 by Dutch captain Derk Harthog (1580-1621), who explored 300 kilometers of the Western Australian coastline, arriving at 25º30º S. In 1619, the Dutchman Frederik de Houtman (1571-1627) reached the coast of Western Australia in the area where Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is located today.
The west coast of Australia turned out to be very dangerous – there were many shipwrecks. Modern research has shown that indigenous Australians have European genes – in all likelihood the result of shipwrecked seafarers remaining among the Aborigines.
The comfortable bay, where the amazing black swans swam, was discovered in 1697 by the Dutch skipper William de Vlaminck. He also named the river that flowed into the bay the Swan River Swan. Today in Perth there is a monument to the skipper and his name is in the names of the streets.
In 1829 the Englishman Charles Fremantle, captain of the ship Challenger, established a British colony there and declared the land British property. A month later, new settlers arrived on the ship Parmelia, led by Lieutenant James Stirling, and the city of Perth was founded. Thus the colony of Swan River appeared, renamed the colony of Western Australia in 1832. The city of Fremantle was later named after Captain Fremantle and became Western Australia’s most important port.
Today the black swan is a symbol of Perth, its image is in the coat of arms of the city, and Western Australia is called the “land of black swans.
The shortage of new settlers forced the British authorities to resort to the mass relocation of convicts to new lands. It is not without reason that Western Australia’s oldest building in Perth is the Roundhouse (1830), which in ancient times served as a prison and a home for prison guards.
The British Crown’s subjects rarely ventured to such distant lands for permanent residence – by 1858 the entire population of Perth was barely 3,000. The population grew as early as the 1890s, with the discovery of gold deposits near Kalgoorlie.
But still only the most desperate Europeans ventured deep into the continent Western Australia, with its arid climate in the central regions, remained an Aboriginal land. However, gradually cattle ranches were established and suitable land for farming was developed. In the twentieth century, Western Australia saw the discovery of many mineral deposits that formed the basis of the state’s modern economy.
Australia’s Largest State
The territory of Western Australia cannot yet be considered adequately developed, with less than one person per square kilometer living in a vast expanse of land. Numerous national parks and Aboriginal reservations preserve the state’s nature. Aboriginal people who became Australian citizens in 1967 have the opportunity to both maintain a traditional way of life and embrace modern life.
In Western Australia there is the hottest place in the southern hemisphere – the city of Marble Bar. Here the temperature was recorded as +49.2ºC. It would be strange to even suggest that the central parts of the state could ever be developed by man, with three huge deserts stretching from north to south, the Great Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert and the Great Victoria Desert. But in places where there is a reasonable amount of rainfall – on the fringes of the region and near the mountains – the population does grow. New settlements are being built to exploit Western Australia’s natural wealth and mining.
In recent decades, the Aboriginal population has grown – now indigenous people, although enjoying a lower standard of living than the Australian average, are still strongly supported by the government.
In Western Australia is also the world’s deepest underwater canyon (about 1800 m) – this is south of the resort town of Esperance. And in Western Australia, near Kalgoorlie, there are the world’s largest discovered gold and nickel deposits, as well as the largest diamondiferous area – the Kimberley. Western Australia accounts for more than 90% of all gold on the Australian mainland.
One of the country’s main attractions are the fields of ancient petrified forest in Nambang National Park, which are called “Pinakli”. The huge rock, called “stone wave”, “wave rock”, is located about 300 km east of Perth. In the basalt over millions of years, nature has chiseled out a huge rock formation like the “ninth rampart”.
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is located in a human-friendly climate zone. It is the fourth largest of Australia’s cities, and it has some great colonial-style neighborhoods.
Not far from Perth are rich horticultural and vegetable farms, and the Margaret River region produces excellent wines prized by connoisseurs the world over.
A particular impression on those who venture here is made by Kimberly County, where nature has used a truly gigantic scale for creativity. Here, only about 38,000 people live on vast tracts of land, but the ranches and native lands are astonishingly large, the deserts are blood-red, and fast but very cold rivers flow at the bottom of forested gorges, where crocodiles do well.
In Kimberley County, one-third of the land is owned by Native Australians, who often work as guides in national parks and lead tours of their ancestral rock art “galleries.”
North of Purnululu National Park is the world’s largest diamond deposit, Argyle, discovered in 1979. Its “capacity” is 5 tons of diamonds per year! Argyle is the only source of deep pink diamonds.
- The largest state in the Commonwealth of Australia.
- Administrative-territorial division: 9 districts.
- Capital: Perth, 1,658,992 (2009).
- Ethnic composition: Australians of European origin, Aboriginal Chinese, Vietnamese, other nationalities.
- Languages: English, Aboriginal languages.
- Religion: Christianity, Islam, other faiths.
- Currency unit: Australian dollar.
- Major cities: Perth, Mangera, Albany, Port Hedland, Banbury, Kalgoorlie.
- The main seaports are Fremantle, Bunbury, Albany, Port Hedland, Broome.
- Major airports: Perth International Airport, Perth Airport, Port Hedland International Airport, Broome International Airport.
- The largest rivers are Fitzroy, Ashburton, and Murchison.
- The largest lakes are Carnegie, Disappointment, Cary, Rebecca.
- Area: 2,645,615 km2.
- Population: 2,296,411 (2010).
- Population density: 0.86 persons/km2.
- The highest point: Meharri, 1,250 m.
Climate and weather
- In the north – tropical monsoon, in the center – semi-desert, in the south – the Mediterranean type, the average annual rainfall is from 300 to 1400 mm, in the central desert and semi-desert areas – 200-250 mm.
- The average temperature in January is +23ºC, July +18ºC (Perth).
- Mining (gold, diamonds, nickel, iron, manganese, tin, oil, opals), ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, machine building, chemical, oil refining, woodworking, furniture, paper, food industry.
- Agriculture: viticulture, horticulture, cultivation of wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane; sheep, dairy and beef cattle breeding.
Services: tourism, education, banking.
- National Parks: Drysdale River, Tunnel Creek, Purnululu, Jaiki Gorge, Milstream Chichester, Radall River, Hamersley Range, Collier Range, Calbari, Gungarry, Frank Hahn, Sterling Range, Fitzgerald River, Cape Arid, Nambung.
- Reserves: the Gibson Desert, the Great Victoria Desert.
- Wolf Creek Nature Park (meteor crater).
- Perth: Gallery of Fine Arts of Western Australia, Museum of Western Australia, Colonial Quarters.
- Fremantle: Fremantle History Museum, Fremantle Art Center, Immigration Museum, Fremantle Marketplace, The Roundhouse (jailhouse, the oldest house in the state).
- In Aboriginal lore, the Wolf Creek meteorite crater is called the “Flying Stone of the Sunfire”. This crater is 50 m deep (at the time of its appearance was supposedly 120 m deep) appeared as a result of a meteorite fall about 300 thousand years ago. It is assumed that the meteorite may have weighed about 50,000 tons. The surrounding area is still strewn with fragments of meteorite rock, some of which weigh up to 250 kg Wolf Creek Crater was discovered in 1947 during an aerial survey.