Western Australia, the largest state of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is bounded by the Timor Sea, the Great Australian Bight, and the Indian Ocean, and inland by the Northern Territory and South Australia. Greatest dimensions are about 1,260 miles (2,030 km) north-south and 990 miles (1,600 km) east-west. The area is 975,101 square miles (2,525,500 km2)—more than 3.5 times that of Texas.
|Facts in brief about Western Australia|
|State capital: Perth.|
|Chief cities and towns: Perth, Fremantle, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Albany, Port Hedland.|
|Area: 975,100 mi2 (2,525,500 km2).|
|Population: 2001 census —1,851,252.|
|Animal emblem: Numbat.|
|Bird emblem: Black swan.|
|Floral emblem: Red and green kangaroo paw.|
|Fossil emblem: Gogo fish.|
|Chief products: Agriculture, forestry, and fishing—barley, beef cattle, dairy cattle, fruits, hardwoods, oats, rock lobsters, sheep, vegetables, wheat, wool. Manufacturing and processing—fertilizers, food products, machinery, metal products, petroleum products, transportation equipment, wood products. Mining—oil, natural gas, iron ore, bauxite.|
A great plateau, lying generally from 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 to 600 m) above sea level, covers most of Western Australia. The interior of the plateau has no perennial rivers and consists largely of deserts, the largest being Great Sandy, Gibson, and Great Victoria.
The surface of the plateau is generally flat to hilly. In the Hamersley Range in the northwest is 4,104-foot (1,251-m) Mount Bruce, the state's highest peak. Other mountain ranges are King Leopold Range in the north and the Stirling and Darling ranges in the southwest. Along the coast runs a plain of varying width. The Nullarbor Plain, a flat, featureless wasteland, borders the Great Australian Bight. Most rivers flow only during the rainy season; exceptions are the Fitzroy and Ord in the northeast and the Swan in the southwest.
The climate throughout most of Western Australia is extremely hot and dry. Temperatures often rise above 100° F. (38° C.), and precipitation totals less than 10, inches (250 mm) a year. The chief exceptions are the southwest and the northeast. The southwest has warm to hot summers and mild, rainy winters—much like southern California. The northeast has a tropical, monsoonal climate marked by hot, rainy summers and warm, dry winters.
|Places to visit in Western Australia|
|Following are brief descriptions of some of Western Australia's interesting places to visit.|
|Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie are mining towns that sprang to life during the gold rush years.|
|Margaret River is famous for its craft galleries, scenic drives, surf beaches, and wineries. The wineries and restaurants are popular with both tourists and local residents.|
|Pemberton is in the heart of the Karri forests, which are unique to Western Australia.|
|Rottnest Island, 12 miles (19 kilometers) offshore from Perth, is a popular vacation destination. Unique to the island are small wallabies called quokkas.|
|Kalbarri is noted for its breathtaking coastal gorge, its abundance of fresh seafood, and wildflowers that bloom from August to October.|
|Wave Rock, near Hyden, is 240 miles (386 kilometers) east of Perth. Its unusual wavelike shape is the result of erosion.|
Construction and manufacturieng each provice about 10 per cent of the jobs in Western Australia. The agriculture and mining industries each employ less than 5 per cent of the state's workers. Most of the rest of the state's jobs are in the transportation, trade, tourism, and government and business industries. Agriculture in Western Australia's centers primarily in the southwest, where wheat, the state's leading export, is one of the chief crops. Barley, oats, and other grains are also grown. Vegetables and fruits are also produced in the southwest. Many sheep are raised for wool, which is a major product. Irrigation is used in several areas in Western Australia, mainly the Ord River valley in the northeast and around Carnarvon on the northwest coast.
Nearly all of the state's manufacturing is done in the southwest in the Perth-Fremantle-Kwinana area. More than half of the manufacturing jobs in the state are in the area. Kwinana has a fertilizer plant, an oil refinery, an alumina refinery and another plant produces nickel. The area also has a shipbuilding industry, food processing. Otther products include furniture, plywood, machinery and heavy equipment, railrroad locomotives and automobiles.
The mining industry is the state's leading producer of oil and natural gas, and iron ore. Western Australia is rich in gold deposits. The state leads Australia in gold production, with important gold mines in the Eastern Goldfields near Kalgoorlie. The Argyle diamond mine produces industrial diamonds as well as gem-quality stones. Other minerals produced in Western Australia include aggregate, clay, building stones, bauxite, lead, copper, limestone, zinc, glass sand, gypsum, mineral sands, salt, talc, and tantalum.
Roads and railways are concentrated in the southwestern part of the state. The principal commercial airport is at Perth. Fremantle is the main seaport.
Most of the people are of British descent and are concentrated in the southwest. Perth is the capital and largest urban center (including Fremantle, its suburb and port).
There is no official state religion; freedom of worship is granted to all. The principal faiths are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian.
Primary education is compulsory. Education is free from kindergarten through college. The University of Western Australia is at Perth and Murdoch University is at Murdoch.
In Western Australia's government, a governor represents the British monarch. The governor is the chief executive for the state. It is an honorary position. The real power is exercised by the state Parliament, which consists of two houses: the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. Assembly members from the winning party or coalition form the government and select the premier, who selects a cabinet of ministers to run the government departments. The Legislative Assembly has 57 members who are elected to four-year terms. The Legislative Council has 34 members who serve four-year terms.
In addition, the state of Western Australia is represented in Australia's federal Parliament by 15 representatives and 12 senators.
The state's judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court. There are also courts of session, magistrates' courts, children's courts, and coroners' courts.