Let’s consider Australia. It’s a country comprised of six distinct states. The largest of these is the westernmost one, which is called, imaginatively enough, Western Australia. While much of the province consists of arid, uninhabited desert, the border regions have proven a tremendous draw for settlers throughout history. In this article, we’ll provide a brief introduction to Western Australia and discuss what the region has to offer.
The East Indiaman Tryall of the British Navy was en-route to Bantam, a sultanate on the pacific Island we now call Java. A navigational error took the ship a few hundred miles off course, toward the Montebello Islands, an archipelago near the north coast of Western Australia, comprising 174 small islands. There the ship collided with some underwater rocks. The surviving crew would salvage a skiff and a longboat from the doomed vessel and they made their way to Bantam. Of the 143 who had set out from Portsmouth, just 44 made it to their final destination – and few of them were keen on the idea of returning to Australia. The guilty rocks, as it happens, went on to be named the Tyrall rocks, after being identified in 1969.
It wasn’t for several centuries after the Tyrall’s unplanned mooring that the British finally colonised Western Australia – for the understandable reason that they suspected that the French might beat them to it. The Swan River colony was the first colony, established in 1829 on the Swan River by James Stirling, a British naval officer who went onto become Western Australia's first governor. This colony contained two separate towns, one of which went onto become the modern capital of the province, Perth.
From those humble beginnings, the colony expanded to cover most of the western coastline, with sheep farmers enjoying particular success during the 19th century – but this success was as nothing next to that sparked by the discovery of gold in the 1880s, which sparked an enormous wave of immigration.
Western Australia covers a vast distance, and only a small fraction of it is inhabited. While the coasts are teeming with human activity, the interior is a vibrant wilderness where few settlers have ventured.
You might deduce from this that Western Australia's climate is not particularly welcoming – and you’d be mostly right. But that’s only true of the center of the state. In sharp contrast, the south coast enjoys a more Mediterranean climate, while the north is almost tropical – in fact, Kimberly, the state's northernmost region, enjoys monsoonal weather over the hot winter months between November and April.
Much of the natural beauty on offer in Western Australia is contained within the borders of more than a thousand specially protected areas, and more than ninety-eight national parks – which between them total more than fifty square kilometers – more than 2% of the state’s entire area. The Kalbarri national park, for example, features a fifty-mile gorge which runs along the end of the Murchison River, with spectacular rock formations on display all around, along with thousands of different species of wildflower and abundant animal life – including the famous kangaroo.
Those looking for something a little more mountainous might consider the Stirling Range national park, named after James Stirling himself. In this park contains the state’s tallest mountain range, as well as an enormous variety of plant life. The WA tourist board’s website proudly boasts that the park is ‘home to more plant species than you'll find in the entire British Isles’. Those looking for an invitation to move to Australia will struggle to find a more direct one!
Much of the culture in Western Australia is centred within the major cities, of which Perth is by far the largest. The attractions on offer there include King’s Park, a thousand-acre park complete with botanical gardens. It is among the largest inner-city parks in existence and millions of people flock to visit every year. Alternatively, if you’re after a closer look at some of the wildlife, then you might also consider Perth Zoo or the Aquarium of Western Australia, both of which are located in the heart of the city.