History of Western Australia

The human history of Western Australia commenced between 40,000 and 60,000 years ago with the arrival of Indigenous Australians on the northwest coast. The first inhabitants expanded the range of their settlement to the east and south of the continent. The first recorded European contact was in 1616, when Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog landed on the west coast, having been blown off course while en route to Batavia, nowadays called Jakarta.

Although many expeditions visited the coast during the next 200 years, there was no lasting attempt at establishment of a permanent settlement until December 1826 when an expedition on behalf of the New South Wales colonial government, led by Major Edmund Lockyer,[1] landed at King George Sound. On 21 January 1827 Lockyer formally took possession of the western third of the continent of Australia for the British Crown. This was followed by the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829, including the site of the present-day capital, Perth. The harsh conditions faced by the settlers resulted in population growth being minimal until the discovery of gold in the 1880s. Since the gold rush, the population of the state has risen steadily, with substantial growth in the period since World War II.

Western Australia gained the right of self-government in 1890, and joined with the five other states to form the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The desire of Western Australians to revert to complete self-governance, separate from the Commonwealth, culminated in 1933 with a successful referendum for secession supported by 68% of electors. In 1935 the British parliament declined to act since secession would require the assent of the Australian parliament, and the movement lapsed with an improving economy and generous federal grants.[2][3]

Aboriginal settlement

When Australia's first inhabitants arrived on the northwest coast 40,000 to 60,000 years ago the sea levels were much lower. The Kimberley coast at one time was only about 90 km from Timor, which itself was the last in a line of closely spaced islands for humans to travel across.[4] Therefore, this was a possible (even probable) location for which Australia's first immigrants could arrive via some primitive boat. Other possible immigration routes were via islands further north and then through New Guinea.

Over the next tens of thousands of years these Indigenous Australians slowly moved southward and eastward across the landmass. The Aborigines were well established throughout Western Australia by the time European ships started accidentally arriving en route to Batavia (now Jakarta) in the early 17th century.

Early visits by Europeans

The first European to sight Western Australia was the Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, the first European to suggest to have found a continent there, who on 26 October 1616 landed at what is now known as Cape Inscription, Dirk Hartog Island. Before departing, Hartog left behind an inscribed pewter plate affixed to a post. In 1696 the plate was discovered and replaced by Willem de Vlamingh and repatriated to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A multitude of Dutch visits followed during that century, charting virtually the whole of the west coast, the West Australian south coast and Australia's northern coast.

The first English vessel to visit, when attempting to sail the Dutch-established Brouwer Route to the Indies, was Tryall, an East India Company-owned East Indiaman under the command of John Brookes who in 1622 sighted Point Cloates before later on 25 May wrecking on Tryal Rocks, off the northwest coast of Australia. Some of the 143 crew remained on the Monte Bello Islands for 7 days, during that time sighting Barrow Island, before sailing to Batavia in a longboat. A second boat brought some more crew to Batavia, so just over 40 people survived, including Brookes. Almost one hundred crew apparently perished in the wreck. Tryall became Australia's oldest known shipwreck.[5]

A later English visitor was William Dampier, who in 1699 sailed down some of the western coast of Australia. He noted the lack of water and in his description of Shark Bay in his account "A Voyage to New Holland", he expressed his frustration:

as the 7th of August when we came into Shark's Bay; in which we Anchored at three several Places, and stay'd at the first of them (on the W. side of the Bay) till the 11th. During which time we searched about, as I said, for fresh Water, digging Wells, but to no purpose.

A number of sections of the Western Australian coastline were given names which did not last past the exploratory era in names of features – such as Eendrachtsland. However some names, such as 't Landt van de Leeuwin (Leeuwin's Land), materialised at a later date as Cape Leeuwin.

Timeline of European discovery and exploration

1659 map prepared by Joan Blaeu based on voyages by Abel Tasman and Willem Jansz.
Vlamingh ships at the Swan River, Keulen 1796
Willem de Vlamingh's ships at the entrance to the Swan River, 1697
King George Sound 1833
Crew of the French ship L'Astrolabe make contact with aborigines at King George Sound, 1826

Below is a timeline of significant events from the 1616 landfall of Dirk Hartog until the eventual settlement of the Swan River Colony in 1829:

Swan River Colony (1829–1832)
Colony of Western Australia (1832–1901)
British Crown Colony

Flag of Western Australia
flag (1870–1901)
Government Self-governing colony
 •  1829–1830 George IVfirst
 •  1837–1901 Victoria last
 •  1829–1832 James Stirling first
 •  1895–1900 Gerard Smith last
 •  Established 1829
 •  Federation of Australia 1901

Colonial era

King George Sound

The first formal claim of possession for Great Britain was made on 29 September 1791 by Commander (later Captain) George Vancouver RN, on a spot he named Possession Point, at the tip of the peninsula between the waters he also named Princess Royal Harbour and King George the Third's Sound at Albany ("the Third" was dropped from the name in 1826).

In the early 19th century the British became concerned about the possibility of a French colony being established on the west coast of Australia. In 1826 the Governor of New South Wales, Ralph Darling, ordered the establishment of a settlement at King George's Sound. An army detachment was sent from Sydney headed by Major Edmund Lockyer with eighteen soldiers, one captain, one doctor, one storekeeper and twenty-three convicts.[1]

On 21 January 1827 the whole of Australia was finally claimed as British territory when Major Lockyer formally annexed the western portion of the continent in a ceremony on King George Sound.[1]

In March 1831 the penal settlement was withdrawn, and the control of King George's Sound was transferred from New South Wales to the Swan River Colony.[1] Captain James Stirling decreed that the settlement would be named "Albany" from 1 January 1832.[7]

The Swan River Colony

Early map of swan river colony
Early map of the Swan River colony

The first significant European settlements were established on the Swan River by James Stirling in 1829. The colonists first sighted land on 1 June, an official Proclamation was made on 18 June and the foundation of the colony took place on 12 August. As Lieutenant Governor, Stirling had sole authority to draft laws and decide day-to-day affairs.

By 1859, all the other Australian colonies had their own parliaments and colonists in Western Australia began pushing for the right to govern themselves. The British Colonial Office opposed this because of the slow rate of growth and the presence by then of convicts. Petitions asking for some of the positions in the Legislative Council to be filled by popularly elected colonists were presented to London in 1865 and 1869. In 1870 this was granted, although the Governor could still veto the Council's decisions.

Major towns of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the main settlement, 20 miles (30 km) up river, at Perth.

Expansion 1829–1850

Much of the land around the Swan River Colony was unsuitable for agriculture and it was inevitable that the colony would have to expand beyond the Swan River area after the most fertile locations were quickly settled.

Sheep farming was the most successful early agricultural activity, and the basis of all expansion until the 1850s.

  • 1829: A military outpost was founded at Bunbury.
  • 1830: Area around Augusta settled.
  • 1830: The first exploration over the Darling Range to search for suitable farming land occurred with the settlement of the Avon Valley and the foundation of the town of York in 1831.
  • 1832
  • 1833: On 5 January, the first newspaper, the Perth Gazette was launched.
  • 1833: Relations between the Europeans and Aborigines were not always amicable with many intercultural skirmishes. Yagan, a senior warrior of the local Aboriginal tribe near the Swan River was killed on 11 July of this year after a bounty was issued for his capture following the murder of a couple of settlers.
  • 1834: Battle of Pinjarra (aka Pinjarra Massacre): This was the worst intercultural battle, happening on 28 October. Depending on the source, the death toll ranged from 10 to 150.
  • 1836: settlement in the Toodyay region.[8]
  • 1837–39: George Grey explored the coasts of:
    • the North West (1837)
    • Gascoyne and Murchison (1839)
  • 1839: another four members, drawn from the ranks of private settlers, were added to the official members of the Legislative Council.
  • 1841: Explorer Edward John Eyre arrives in Albany walking across the Nullarbor Plain from the eastern states. In the Vasse District at Wonnerup, settler George Layman Sr of Wonnerup House was speared to death by a Wardandi elder.[9]
  • 1843: Census recorded the population of Western Australia as 3,842.[8]
  • 1844: A 15-year-old John Gavin was the first European legally hanged in the colony, for the murder of 18-year-old George Pollard.
  • 1848–1850: After 19 years of settlement, growth was very slow. The population of the area around Perth was still only about 1,400. In 1850 the population of the state as a whole had only increased to 5,886. This population had settled mainly around the southwestern coastline at Bunbury, Augusta and Albany.
  • 1849: First discovery of gold occurred in the Jimperding-Toodyay area.[8]

Convict era

While Western Australia was initially a "free settlement", economic problems for settler capitalists led them to seek the transportation of British convicts. WA became a penal colony in 1850.

The Gregory brothers led major exploration expeditions to many parts of the colony, including:

By 1859, all the other Australian colonies had their own parliaments and colonists in Western Australia began pushing for the right to govern themselves. The British Colonial Office opposed this because of the slow rate of growth and the presence of convicts. Petitions asking for some of the positions in the Legislative Council to be filled by elected members were presented to London twice during the 1860s.

By 1868, over 9,000 convicts had been transported to Western Australia on 43 convict ship voyages.

Expansion 1861–1885

Wool production, usually on large stations, was also the basis of expansion further east and northward.

The first permanent settlements in the North West (later divided into the Pilbara and Kimberley regions) took place in the mid-1860s, initially at the Harding River, De Grey River and Roebourne (gazetted in 1867). Pearling also came to dominate the North West, initially in Nickol Bay, with a fleet at Tien Tsin Harbor (later renamed Cossack). In the North West, unlike southern WA, the labour force was dominated by Indigenous Australians, often under harsh forms of unfree labour.

In 1870, some members of the Legislative Council were elected for the first time, although only male settlers with significant property could vote and the Governor could still veto the Council's decisions.

John Forrest led two major expeditions:

In 1872, controversial explorer Peter Egerton Warburton made a journey from Alice Springs to Western Australian coast.

Ernest Giles twice traversed the Gibson Desert between 1872 and 1876.

During the 1870s, the Murchison and Gascoyne regions were also settled by Europeans.

Other notable events
  • 1877: The telegraph from Adelaide to Perth completed, considerably improving intracontinental communication
  • 1883: Durack family settle around the Ord River in the East Kimberley.

Gold discoveries, 1885–1900

Western Australia population T
WA population growth 1829–2010

Until the 1880s the economy of the state was based largely on wool and wheat. A major change in the colony's fortunes occurred in 1885 when gold was discovered and prospectors by the tens of thousands swarmed across the land in a desperate attempt to discover new goldfields.

In 1887 a new constitution, including proposals for responsible government, was drafted and sent to London by Governor Broome for approval. It was argued that due to the increasing wealth being generated by gold rushes, Western Australia should become a self-governing colony. An Act granting self-government was passed by the British Parliament in 1890, giving the Colony independence from the UK in matters other than foreign policy, defence and "native affairs". Section 70 of the self-government act established an Aboriginal Protection Board, under the control of the British Parliament, not the Western Australian one. Governor Broome had earlier warned the British Colonial Office that the Western Australians were not to be trusted in matters relating to Aboriginal persons. A further clause to the constitution stated that 5,000 pounds or one percent of state revenues, whichever was the greater, was to be allocated to Aboriginal persons for their welfare and advancement. Many settlers resented these clauses, and Western Australia has never honoured this clause to its own constitution. A previous Governor, Sir William Robinson, was re-appointed to supervise the change. He travelled by train from Albany to Perth and towns en route lit bonfires and people gathered at railway sidings to celebrate his arrival and the new constitution. His arrival in Perth on 21 October 1890 saw the city decorated with elaborate floral arches spanning the city's main streets and buildings were decked with banners and flags.

In 1891 the rush to the Murchison goldfields began when Tom Cue discovered gold at the town which now bears his name. In the years that followed dozens of gold towns – Day Dawn, Nannine, Peak Hill, Garden Gully, Dead Finish, Pinnicles, Austin Island and Austin Mainland – flourished only to be abandoned when the seams were exhausted and the gold fever moved on.

The influx of miners from the eastern colonies and from overseas increased the presence of trade unions in Western Australia. The Trades and Labor Council, Perth was established in 1891 and Perth Trades Hall opened (1912). The first edition of the Westralian Worker appeared on 7 September 1900 and was followed shortly afterwards by the opening of the Kalgoorlie Trades Hall, the first such hall in Western Australia. A Trades Hall was opened in Fremantle in 1904.

An influx of people from Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania led to Australian rules football becoming the dominant football code when several local rugby football clubs switched codes.

Sir John Forrest – the first Premier of Western Australia and its only premier as a Colony – clashed with Robinson over Section 70. While Forrest had argued that Western Australians should accept Section 70 in order to obtain self-government, by 1892 he was attempting to have it changed. William Traylen MP argued that "as our revenue is growing up now, and the natives can scarcely be said to be increasing in numbers, we shall be paying a very undue proportion of our income as a colony for the purpose of supporting the Aboriginal native race".

Discoveries at Coolgardie (1892) and Paddy Hannan's discovery at Kalgoorlie (1893) sparked true gold fever.

Gold inspired a new wave of exploration, including David Carnegie who, in 1896, led an epic expedition that traveled through the deserts north of Coolgardie, through the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, before returning to Coolgardie.

In the late 19th century there was talk of the gold-rich region around Kalgoorlie seceding from Western Australia, as a colony/state called "Auralia". This campaign coincided with the reluctance in Perth regarding Western Australia taking part in Australian federation.

In 1899, Forrest succeeded unilaterally passed the Constitution Amendment Act, taking control of Aboriginal Affairs without approval of the British House of Commons. Many Aboriginal people argue that the 1899 amendment was an illegal usurpation of British government power and one percent of accumulated Government revenues should be set aside for Aboriginal welfare, as intended.

Other notable events
  • 1887: On 22 April, a cyclone struck the pearling fleet at Eighty Mile Beach near Broome claiming 140 lives. The storm was unexpected, being so late in the season.[10]
  • 1889: The Great Southern Railway was opened with subsequent economic growth to the regions along the line. The wheat industry did not really get going until construction of railways. A railway line had reached Coolgardie (from Perth) by 1896.
  • 1895: Kings Park was officially opened on 10 August.
  • 1897: Fremantle Inner Harbour was officially opened after dredging and construction under the supervision of C. Y. O'Connor.

State of Australia

On 1 January 1901, following a proclamation by Queen Victoria, Western Australia, along with the other five British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, formed the federation of the Commonwealth of Australia, of which they each became component states. However, Western Australia was rather reluctant to join the union, doing so only after a railway line connecting the west coast to the east coast was offered.

Development during the early twentieth century

Australia 1916 western australia
Map of Western Australia in 1916
WA centenary celebrations (12 August 1929)
Governor William Campion at the centenary celebrations in Perth.

The wealth generated from gold soon disappeared and by the early years of the 20th century the economy was once again dependent on wool and wheat. This dependency meant that a dramatic fall in wool and wheat prices in the late 1920s – early 1930s saw the state's economy collapse. It was not to recover until after World War II when the Federal Government's postwar immigration policy saw a huge influx of migrants, nearly all of them from Europe, in the period 1947 to 1970.

Important events in Western Australia included the following:

  • 1902: The Premier, George Leake died suddenly on 24 June aged only 45. Frederick Illingworth became the caretaker Premier for a week before Walter James formed a new ministry on 1 July. George Leake is the only Western Australian Premier to die in office.
  • 1903: A pipeline from Mundaring Weir to Kalgoorlie is opened. This was a major achievement for its time by the state's first engineer-in-chief C. Y. O'Connor, who committed suicide before the project was complete.
  • 1904: John Drayton is imprisoned under parliamentary privilege provisions in Western Australia for refusing to pay a fine. This is the first and, until 1995, only, time that an Australian parliament punished somebody under parliamentary privilege provisions.
  • 1911: The University of Western Australia becomes Western Australia's first university. No teaching happens until 1913 though.[2] It wasn't until 1975 that Western Australia's second university, Murdoch University opened.
  • 1912: A cyclone crossed the coast just west of Balla Balla near Port Hedland and claimed well over 150 lives. This was almost certainly Australia's worst weather-related maritime disaster of the 20th century with the loss of the coastal steamer Koombana.[3]
  • 1917: The transcontinental railway is complete, fulfilling a promise by the Federal Government when the Colony of Western Australia voted to become a state of Australia at Federation in 1901. Construction of this last leg between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta had begun in 1912.
  • 1920: Edward, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) was involved in a train derailment, in which his carriage overturned in the state's south west. Fortunately the train was moving at a low speed and he did not sustain any injuries.
  • 1920: Western Australia passed legislation allowing women to stand for parliament, Edith Cowan was elected to the Legislative Assembly becoming the first woman elected to any Australian parliament.
  • 1929: Western Australia Centenary.
  • 1930: Perth is connected to Adelaide (and subsequently the rest of the eastern states) by a telephone line.
Westralia shall be free
Secessionists at a meeting.
  • In a referendum in 1933, 68% of voters favoured secession. The Premier, Philip Collier, argued in London for secession but the British decided they could not grant it.
  • 1935: The Lacepede Islands near Broome were struck by a cyclone, which sank 21 pearling luggers with 141 lives lost. This was Australia's second deadliest cyclone in the 20th century. [4]

World War II

Postwar era (1946 - 1970)

  • 1946: Over 800 Aboriginal workers took part in the 1946 Pilbara strike, the first such kind of action taken by Indigenous Australians.
  • 1947: Western Australia enters the country's domestic cricket competition, the Sheffield Shield. Though Western Australia only entered on a probationary basis, it managed to win the shield in its first season.
  • 1949: Douglas DC-3 Fitzroy crashed after take-off from Guildford aerodrome, killing all 18 people on board.
  • 1950: The worst civil aircraft accident in Australian history occurred when all 29 people on board the Douglas DC-4 Amana died after it crashed near York on a flight from Perth to Adelaide.
  • 1952: On 3 October the first nuclear bomb was exploded on Australian soil at the Montebello Islands. It was part of Operation Hurricane, Britain's first ever nuclear weapon test. [5]
  • 1961: In arguably Western Australia's worst bushfires, many small communities were destroyed including 132 houses in Dwellingup. There were no fatalities, but 800 people were left homeless.[11]
  • 1961: Minerals boom begins with removal of iron ore export ban. The economy is bolstered over the next two decades by nickel mines around Kalgoorlie and iron ore mines in the north-west.[12]
  • 1964: Serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke was the last person hanged in Western Australia.
  • 1964: On 31 December, Donald Campbell broke the world water speed record in the Bluebird K7 on Lake Dumbleyung. He reached 442 km/h. Campbell died in the same vehicle in 1967 in a later record attempt in England.
  • 1967: Aboriginal people were recognized as Australian citizens with the right to vote
  • 1968: On 14 October, the Meckering earthquake occurred with a moment magnitude of 6.5 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent).
  • 1968: On 31 December, all 26 people on board MacRobertson Miller Airlines Flight 1750 from Perth to Port Hedland died when the aircraft, a Vickers Viscount, crashed near Port Hedland.
  • 1970: The Indian Pacific train completed its first journey by rail across the continent from Sydney to Perth. Though the transcontinental railway had been complete since 1917, this is the first time one train could make the journey uninterrupted by gauge changes.

Events since 1971

See also

Further reading

  • Mennell, Philip (1892). The Coming Colony . London: Hutchison & Co.
  • Crowley, F. K. (1960). Australia's Western Third: A History of Western Australia from the First Settlements to Modern Times. Macmillan.
  • Stannage, C. T. (ed) (1981). A New History of Western Australia. University of Western Australia Press.
  • Geoffrey Bolton (2008). Land of Vision and Mirage: Western Australian since 1826. University of Western Australia Press.


  1. ^ a b c d e "King George's Sound Settlement". State Records. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  2. ^ Zimmerman, Augusto (2012). "The Still Reluctant State". In Appleby, Gabrielle; Aroney, Nicholas; John, Thomas (eds.). The Future of Australian Federalism: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. p. 79. ISBN 9781107006379. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  3. ^ Heilbronn, Gary N.; et al. (2008). "Commonwealth Parliament". Introducing the Law (7 ed.). Sydney: CCH Australia Limited. p. 48. ISBN 9781921873478. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  4. ^ Hallam, Sylvia J. (1981) The First Western Australians from C. T. Stannage A New History of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 0-85564-181-9
  5. ^ Lee, Ida. "The First Sighting of Australia by the English". The Geographical Journal (April 1934). Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  6. ^ King, Robert J. (2008). "Jean Pierre Purry's proposal to colonize the Land of Nuyts". Australia on the Map. Australasian Hydrographic Society. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  7. ^ Uren, Malcolm John Leggoe (1948). Land Looking West: The Story of Governor James Stirling in Western Australia. London: Oxford University Press. p. 24.
  8. ^ a b c Frayne, Beth (2011). The Long Toodyay Chronology, Part 1 1829–1900 (second ed.). Toodyay: Toodyay Historical Society.
  9. ^ Stirling, Ros (2011). "Wonnerup: A chronicle of the south-west". Australian Heritage Magazine. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  10. ^ Bureau of Meteorology (1998). Tropical Cyclones (A Guide for Mariners in Northwest Australia), Pamphlet, Commonwealth of Australia
  11. ^ Courtney, Joe; Middelmann, Miriam (2005). "Meteorological hazards" (PDF). Natural hazard risk in Perth, Western Australia – Cities Project Perth Report. Geoscience Australia. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  12. ^ Lee, David (2013). "Reluctant relaxation: The end of the iron ore export embargo and the origins of Australia's mining boom, 1960–1966". History Australia. Clayton, Vic: Monash University Publishing. pp. 149–170. Retrieved 23 November 2015.

External links

Aboriginal groupings of Western Australia

An overview of Australian Aboriginal kinship groupings within Western Australia, 1979. Tribal Boundaries map based on Norman Tindales 1974 map. It was published in Western Australia: An Atlas of Human Endeavour by the State Government, given to every school aged child in Western Australia, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the settlement of the Swan River Colony (the cities of Perth and Fremantle) by a small English military force and several hundred free colonists in 1829.

Noongar - occupying the area of the South West Agricultural Division of Western Australia - affected from 1827 onwards, and today represented by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council. It includes five cultural groups:Perth Type: Matrilineal moieties and totemic clans. Patrilineal local descent groups. Includes Amangu, Yued, Whadjuk, Binjareb, Wardandi, Ganeang and Wilmen.

Nyakinyaki Type: Alternate generational levels similar to Western Desert type, with patrilineal local descent groups. Includes Balardong and Nyakinyaki.

Bibelmen type: Patrilineal moieties and patrilineal local descent groups. Includes Bibulmen and Minang.

Wudjari type: similar to Nyakinyaki except they have named patrilineal totemic local descent groups.

Nyunga type: similar to Wangai with two endogamous named divisions (Bee-eater and King fisher), in which marriage took place within one's own division but children were in the opposite, modified from the Western Desert system. Includes Nyunga.Yamatji - occupying the Murchison, Gascoyne- affected from the 1840s onwards, represented today by the Yamatji Bana Baaba Marlpa Land and Sea Council.Nganda type:Patrilineal totemic local descent groups, no moieties or sections. Includes Nganda and Nandu.

Inggadi-Badimaia gtype: Sections not well defined, Patrilineal totemic local clans grouped into larger divisions. Includes Inggada, Dadei, Malgada, Ngugan, Widi, Badimaia, Wadjari, and Goara.

Djalenji-Maia type: Sections corelaed with kin terms, Matrilineal descent groups. Includes Noala, Djalenji, Yinigudira, Baiyungu, Maia, Malgaru, Dargari, Buduna, Guwari, Warianga, Djiwali, Djururu, Nyanu, Bandjima, Inawongga, Gurama, Binigura and Guwari.

Nyangamada type: Sections with indirect matrilineal descent, with patrilineal local descent groups. Includes Bailgu, Indjibandji, Mardudunera, Yaburara, Ngaluma, Gareira, Nyamal, Ngala, and Nyangamada.Wankai or Wongai - occupying the Goldfields and Nullarbor regions of Western Australia affected from the 1880s onwards, represented today by the Goldfields Land and Sea Aboriginal Council Corporation.Galamaia-Gelago type: Like Nyunga, but practising circumcision. Includes Galamaia, Ngurlu, Maduwongga, and Gelago.

Mirning Type: Patrilineal local totemic descent groups, No moieties or sections. Similar to the Western Desert type. Includes Ngadjunmaia, Mirning.Kimberley peoples - in the Kimberley region - speaking a variety of languages and affected from the 1870s onwards, represented today by the Kimberley Land Council.Garadjeri type: As for Nyangamada. Includes Garadjeri, Mangala, Yaoro, Djungun, Ngombal, Djaberadjabera, and Nyulnyul.

Bardi type. Patrilineal local descent groups, no moieties or sections. Includes Warwar, Nimanburu, Ongarang, Djaul Djaui.

Ungarinyin type: Patrilineal. Includes Umedi, Wungemi, Worora, WunumbulNgaanyatjarra - occupying the Central Desert region - and being much less affected than the other Aboriginal groups of Western Australia.

Aboriginal history of Western Australia

The history of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia has been dated as existing for 50-70 thousand years before European contact. This article only deals with documented history from non indigenous sources since European settlement in Perth.

Admiral Gifford (ship)

Admiral Gifford was a wooden schooner that was lost while travelling between Port Macquarie and Sydney, New South Wales, on 8 October 1834 with a cargo of grain, hides and tallow.

Buka cloak

Buka, or Boka, is the name for the cloak traditionally worn by Noongar people, the Indigenous people of south-western Australia.

Unlike in the south-east, where people such as Yorta Yorta wore possum-skin cloaks, the Noongars made use of the pelt of the kangaroo.

While in the south east, there was a lot of sewing involved, there was less involved in the south-west. It normally consisted of the whole skin of two to three kangaroos sewn together, with the tail hanging at the bottom of the cloak.

The cloak was worn over one shoulder and under the other. It was fastened at the neck using a small piece of bone or wood. By wearing the cloak this way it allowed for movement of both arms without any restrictions and allowed for daily activities to be carried out with ease.

Cloaks were reversible. They were worn the fur on the inside when particularly cold and could be turned the other way when it was raining. The cloaks were also used as rugs to sleep on at night.

Today many Aboriginal people have new cloaks and rugs made from kangaroo skins. They are used in performances or often as they were traditionally as a nice warm rug or cloak.

Cyclone Chris

Severe Tropical Cyclone Chris was one of the most powerful cyclones to strike Western Australia on record, packing winds gusting up to 290 km/h (180 mph).

Cyclone Vance

Cyclone Vance was a tropical cyclone that struck Western Australia during the active 1998–99 Australian region cyclone season, and was also one of six tropical cyclones to form off the coast of Australia during that season. When making landfall the Learmonth Meteorological Office (35 km south of Exmouth) recorded the highest Australian wind gust of 267 km/h (166 mph). The previous highest gust was 259 km/h (161 mph) at nearby Mardie during Cyclone Trixie. This record was surpassed in 2010 after a world record wind-gust of 408 km/h (254 mph) at Barrow Island during Cyclone Olivia in 1996 was declared official by the World Meteorological Organisation.

Forming on 19 March 1999, in the Timor Sea, Vance then curved west-southwest where it recurved and struck the Gascoyne and Pilbara coasts of Western Australia on 22 March as a Category 5 cyclone on the Australian scale and dissipating the following day.

Vance caused severe damage across the western coast of Australia. The hardest hit town was Exmouth where 70 percent of the buildings sustained severe damage. However, because of advance warnings there were no reports of fatalities. Damage totaled AU 100,000,000 (1999 USD).

David Black (historian)

David William Black (born 1936) is a Western Australian historian. He has lectured and written extensively on Australian and Western Australian history, especially political history. He was Professor in History and Politics in the School of Social Sciences and Asian Languages at Curtin University of Technology until his retirement in 2002, and is now Professor Emeritus. He is currently Chairperson of the Parliamentary History Advisory Committee, and a Parliamentary Fellow (History).

Black has had numerous publications and considerable media exposure in regard to parliamentary history in Western Australia.

Black was appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2010 Australia Day Honours for "service to education and to the social sciences, particularly through the promotion and preservation of the political and parliamentary history of Western Australia".

Flying Foam massacre

The Flying Foam Massacre was a series of confrontations between white settlers and Aboriginal people around Flying Foam Passage on Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula), Western Australia. The confrontations occurred between February and May 1868, and were triggered by the killing of two police officers and a local workman. The confrontations resulted in the deaths of unknown number of Jaburara (or Yaburrara, Yapurarra) people with estimates ranging between 15 and 150 dead.

J S Battye Library

The J S Battye Library (more properly known as the J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History) is an arm of the State Library of Western Australia. It stores much of the state's historical records and original publications including books, newspapers, periodicals, maps, and ephemera, as well as oral history tapes, photographs and artworks, films and video, and non-government records which are kept in the library's Private Archives collection. The library provides a range of services, including reference, copying, and genealogical services, as well as consultancy and reader education.


The Jadira are a people and territory mentioned by Norman Tindale in his classic ethnographic map of Australian tribes. The status of Jadira in the sense defined by Tindale has been recently questioned by Paul Burke.

No. 25 Squadron RAAF

No. 25 (City of Perth) Squadron is a general reserve squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It is based at RAAF Base Pearce in Perth, Western Australia, and forms part of the Combat Reserve Wing. The squadron was formed in early 1937 and until early 1939 was designated as "No. 23 Squadron". During World War II, it provided local air defence for the Perth region, before undertaking Army co-operation duties in 1943–1944 and then converting to the heavy bomber role in 1945. In the heavy bomber role, the squadron took part in operations against Japanese targets in the Netherlands East Indies and supported Allied ground operations during the Borneo Campaign.

Following the end of hostilities, No. 25 Squadron was disbanded in mid-1946 but was re-raised two years later as a Citizen Air Force unit based out of Pearce. From 1948 the squadron's reservists flew jet fighters to provide air defence over Western Australia, but the squadron ceased flying duties in 1960 and switched to the ground support role. In 1989, flying operations resumed as No. 25 Squadron assumed responsibility for jet introduction training and fleet support; this role ceased in 1998 and since then the squadron has been tasked with providing a pool of trained personnel to the Air Force.

Pintupi Nine

The Pintupi Nine were a group of nine Pintupi people who lived a traditional hunter-gatherer desert-dwelling life in Australia's Gibson Desert until 1984, when they made contact with their relatives near Kiwirrkurra. They are sometimes also referred to as "the lost tribe". The group were hailed as "the last nomads" in the international press when they left their nomadic life in October 1984.

Poseidon bubble

The Poseidon bubble was a stock market bubble in which the price of Australian mining shares soared in late 1969, then crashed in early 1970. It was triggered by the discovery by Poseidon NL of the early indications of a promising nickel deposit in September 1969.

In the late 1960s, nickel was in high demand due to the Vietnam War, but there was a shortage of supply due to industrial action against the major Canadian supplier Inco. These factors pushed the price of nickel to record levels, peaking at around £7,000/ton (£113,000 in 2018 adjusted for inflation) on the London market early in November 1969. In September 1969, the mineral exploration company Poseidon NL made a major nickel discovery at Mount Windarra 22 kilometres (14 mi) northwest of Laverton, Western Australia. In early September its shares, which had been trading at $0.80, began rising on insider trading (at that time insider trading was not illegal). On 1 October Poseidon announced that drilling had struck 40 metres of ore averaging 3.56% nickel and the price immediately rose until it was trading at $12.30. After this very little further information came to light but the price continued to climb on speculation; at one point, a UK broker suggested a value of up to $382 a share.The price of Poseidon shares quickly became too high for many investors, so some turned to stocks in other companies exploring near Windarra, and eventually other nickel mining stocks in general. As the price of mining shares grew, new companies were listed by promoters hoping to cash in. From October to December 1969 the ASX All Mining index rose by 44%. Mining stocks peaked in January 1970, then immediately crashed. Poseidon shares peaked at an intraday high of $280 in February 1970, and fell rapidly thereafter.By the time Poseidon actually started producing nickel, the price of nickel had fallen. Also, the nickel ore was of a lower grade than originally thought and extraction costs were higher. Profits from the mine were not sufficient to keep Poseidon afloat, and in 1974 it went into receivership. Western Mining then took over management of the mine, operating it until 1991. Mount Windarra produced 5.3 million tonnes of ore grading 1.5% nickel during its minelife.In 1974, the Rae Committee handed down its report on the Poseidon bubble, in which it documented numerous cases of improper trade practices. It recommended a number of changes to the regulation of stock markets, which ultimately led to Australia's national companies and securities legislation.In the late 1901, Robert Champion de Crespigny's Normandy Resources took over Poseidon, becoming Normandy Poseidon, the largest gold miner in Australia. In 2001 Normandy Mining was taken over by the Newmont Mining Corporation, which also at that time acquired Canadian company Franco-Nevada. The acquisitions made Newmont the world's largest producer of gold.

Postage stamps and postal history of Western Australia

Western Australia, a state of Australia and formerly a British colony, established its postal service soon after the British settled in 1829; in December of that year, Fremantle's harbourmaster was appointed postmaster. A post office in Albany opened on 14 October 1834, and the main post office moved to Perth in 1835.


Riji are the pearl shells traditionally worn by Aboriginal men in the north-west part of Australia, around present day Broome. The word Riji is from the Baada language. Another word for it is jakuli.

Rijis were worn as pubic coverings, like a loin cloth, and attached with hairstring from a belt or band around the waist. Only men initiated to the highest degree could traditionally wear them.They were often incised with sacred patterns, which could be tribal insignia, or have other meanings, or tell stories. Riji are associated with water, spiritual powers and healing due to the luminous shimmering quality of their surfaces. Bardi equate the light reflecting off the shells to lightning flashes, which are prominent during the monsoon, and to lights flashing off the cheeks of the Rainbow Serpent, who is closely linked to water and rain.

One of the unique patterns used in the Kimberley region of Western Australia is a pattern of interlocking designs. The incised designs are highlighted with a mixture of ochre and Spinifex resin, which is rubbed into the grooves. Decorated and plain pearl shells are used for rain-making and magical purposes or for trade.

Riji were objects of great value and were traded with inland Aborigines along ancient trade routes over vast areas of the continent. They have been found at Yuendumu in the desert, south-eastern Arnhem Land, Queensland and South Australia.

Often plain pearl shells were decorated further along trade routes, far from their place of origin.

Aboriginal artists Aubrey Tigan and Butcher Joe Nangan created riji out of mother-of-pearl buttons and cloth. Artists still make Riji today in the Broome area. Some use the older, sacred patterns, while others choose to use more modern designs.

State Register of Heritage Places

The State Register of Heritage Places is the heritage register of historic sites in Western Australia deemed significant at the state level by the Heritage Council of Western Australia.

Places listed on the register include buildings, structures, gardens, cemeteries, memorials, landscapes and archaeological sites.

WA Inc

WA Inc was a political scandal in Western Australia. In the 1980s, the state government, which was led for much of the period by premier Brian Burke, engaged in business dealings with several prominent businessmen, including Alan Bond, Laurie Connell, Dallas Dempster, John Roberts, and Warren Anderson. These dealings resulted in a loss of public money, estimated at a minimum of $600 million and the insolvency of several large corporations.

Bond and Connell were major contributors to the party in government, the Labor Party and its remarkable fundraising structure, the John Curtin Foundation. A royal commission (the Royal Commission into Commercial Activities of Government and Other Matters) was established in 1990 by Labor premier Carmen Lawrence to examine the dealings.

Connell alleged [in evidence to the Commission] that Hawke dropped a proposed gold tax after Connell and various Perth high-flyers donated $250,000 each to Labor during an infamous lunch in Brian Burke's office in 1987—a claim the former PM vigorously denied.

Burke's loyalty to those who had donated their efforts (and money) to Labor was no less fervent. Taking the John Curtin Foundation axiom to the next level, Burke created the West Australian Development Corporation and installed fellow Catholic John Horgan (pictured second from left, top) on $800,000 a year, an extraordinary figure for a public servant not only then but now.—Journalist Tony Barrass, 2009.

In 1991, political scientist Paddy O'Brien identified the members of the government most associated with WA Inc deals as premier Burke and his successor Peter Dowding, deputy premier David Parker, industrial development minister Julian Grill and attorney-general Joe Berinson.


Wesfarmers Limited is an Australian conglomerate, headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, with interests predominantly in Australian and New Zealand retail, chemicals, fertilisers, coal mining and industrial and safety products. With AU$65.98 billion in the 2016 financial year, it is the largest Australian company by revenue, overtaking Woolworths and BHP. Wesfarmers is the largest private employer in Australia, with approximately 220,000 employees.Wesfarmers was founded in 1914 as a co-operative to provide services and merchandise to Western Australian farmers. It was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 1984 and grew into a major retail conglomerate.


The Yapurarra or Jaburara ('Northerners') were an Indigenous Australian people who once lived about the Pilbara region of Western Australia and the Dampier Archipelago. The traditional tribe is virtually extinct, though some people of Jaburara descent are still active.

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