Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia's largest state with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres (976,790 sq mi), and the second-largest country subdivision in the world – however, a significant part of it is sparsely populated. The state has about 2.565 million inhabitants, around 11% of the national total. 92% of the population lives in the south-west corner of the state.
The first European visitor to Western Australia was the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog, who visited the Western Australian coast in 1616. The first European inhabitants were the crew of the British East Indiaman Tryall, who were wrecked on Tryal Rocks in May 1622. They spent a week camped on the Montebello Islands before sailing on to Batavia. The New South Wales colonial government established a convict-supported military garrison at King George III Sound, at present-day Albany, in 1826, which was followed by the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829, including the site of the present-day capital, Perth. York was the first inland settlement in Western Australia. Situated 97 kilometres east of Perth, it was settled on 16 September 1831.
Western Australia achieved responsible government in 1890, andfederated with the other British colonies in Australia in 1901. Today itseconomy mainly relies on mining, agriculture and tourism. The state produces 46% of Australia's exports. Western Australia is the second-largest iron ore producer in the world.
Western Australia is bounded to the east by longitude 129°E, the meridian 129 degrees east of Greenwich, which defines the border with South Australia and the Northern Territory, and bounded by the Indian Ocean to the west and north. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) designates the body of water south of the continent as part of the Indian Ocean; in Australia it is officially gazetted as the Southern Ocean.
The total length of the state's eastern border is 1,862 km (1,157 mi). There are 20,781 km (12,913 mi) of coastline, including 7,892 km (4,904 mi) of island coastline. The total land area occupied by the state is 2.5 million km2.
The first inhabitants of Australia arrived from the north about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. Over thousands of years they eventually spread across the whole landmass. These Indigenous Australians were long established throughout Western Australia by the time 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 25 October 1616 landed at what is now known as Cape Inscription, Dirk Hartog Island. For the rest of the 17th century, other Dutch and British navigators encountered the coast, usually unintentionally, as demonstrated by the many shipwrecks along the coast of ships that deviated from the Brouwer Route (because of poor navigation and storms). Two hundred years passed before Europeans believed that the great southern continent actually existed. 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 convict-supported settlement from New South Wales at King George III Sound in 1826 (later named Albanyfrom 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. On 7 March 1831 it was transferred to the control of the Swan River Colony.
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, and the official name of the colony was changed to Western Australia. The two separate townsites of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the state's capital, Perth. Yorkwas the first inland settlement in Western Australia, situated 97 kilometres east of Perth and settled on 16 September 1831. York was the staging point for early explorers who discovered the rich gold reserves of Kalgoorlie.
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 of European Australians and in 1890, the act granting self-government to the colony was passed by the British Parliament. 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 mi) from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and is attributed by historians as an important factor driving the state's population and economic growth.
Following a campaign led by Forrest, residents of the colony of Western Australia (still informally called the Swan River Colony) voted in favour of federation, resulting in Western Australia officially becoming a state on 1 January 1901.
Education in Western Australia consists of one year of pre-school at age 5, followed by six years of primary education for all students as of 2015. At age 13, students begin six years of secondary education. The final two years of secondary education are now compulsory From 2005, all students who completed Year 10 were required to undertake further studies in Year 11, and to complete the year in which they turned 16 (usually Year 11). Since 2008, all students are required to complete 12 years of study before leaving school. Students 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.
There are five universities in Western Australia. They consist of four Perth-based public universities; the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University; and one Fremantle-based private Roman Catholic university, the University of Notre Dame. The University of Notre Dame is also one of only two private universities in Australia, along with Bond University, a not-for-profit private education provider based in Gold Coast, Queensland.
Winemaking regions are concentrated in the cooler climate of the south-western portion of the state. Western Australia produces less than 5% of the country's wine output, but in quality terms is considered to be very much near the top. Major wine producing regions include: Margaret River, The Great Southern, Swan Valley as well as smaller districts including Blackwood Valley, Manjimup, Pemberton, Peel, Chittering Valley, Perth Hills, and Geographe.
Western Australia is home to one of the country's leading performance training institutions, the acclaimed Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), as well as a burgeoning theatrical and musical scene. Notable musicians and bands to have been born in or lived in Western Australia include Adam Brand, Karnivool, Birds of Tokyo, Bon Scott,Eskimo Joe, Johnny Young, Gyroscope, the John Butler Trio, Tame Impala, Kevin Mitchell, Tim Minchin, The Kill Devil Hills,Pendulum, The Pigram Brothers, Rolf Harris and The Triffids. The West Australian Music Industry Awards (WAMis) have been awarded every year to the leading musicians and performers in WA since 2001.
Notable actors and television personalities from Western Australia include Heath Ledger, Sam Worthington, Ernie Dingo,Jessica Marais, Megan Gale, Rove McManus, Isla Fisher, and Melissa George. Films and television series filmed or partly filmed in Western Australia include Cloudstreet, Australia, Bran Nu Dae, ABBA: the Movie and Last Train to Freo.
Noted Western Australian indigenous painters and artisans include Jack Dale Mengenen, Paddy Bedford, Queenie McKenzie, and Rover Thomas.
The West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) is based at the Perth Concert Hall. Other concert, performance and indoor sporting venues in Western Australia include His Majesty's Theatre, the now demolished Perth Entertainment Centre, the Burswood Dome and Theatre and the Perth Arena, which opened in 2012.