The West Australian Coast was first sighted by the Dutch in the early 1600's. Many expeditions were led in an effort to find spices and metals but many ships were wrecked on unexpected reefs, or came to disaster in heavy seas or surf. The Dutch and French had been ordered to take possession of parts of Western Australia
but no Europeans tried to settle here. Little did they realise the wealth of West Australia
's underground, with minerals, diamonds, gold and an enormous artesian basin that today adequately supplies the entire state with fresh water.
It wasn't until 1827 that Captain James Stirling, captain of His Majesty's Royal Navy selected the Swan River as the site of a port and naval station on the western side of the huge Australian continent. He discovered everything he wanted to find; the tranquil, meandering Swan River was beautiful, the earth was rich and believed to grow almost anything and he discovered three safe anchorages for ships. The Swan River area was reported to be the finest place on the West Australian coast.
It was two years later, on 2 May 1829 that Charles Fremantle
claimed 2.5 million square km for Britain. The name Fremantle
was given to the colony's port but the site for the capital Perth
was chosen a little way up the Swan. It was to be a free colony with Britain offering generous land offers for first-comers. However, the new colony suffered, with only pockets of good land, disease and suffering. The south-west corner of Australia
was an isolated triangle. Ocean surrounded two sides, desert the third. 10 years after the first settlers had arrived in Australia
, only 2032 Europeans were occupying this western third of the continent. By the 1890's gold discoveries had changed Australia
and our multicultural society began. The concept of Federation was being debated and men were rushing to the most productive goldfield in the country, at Kalgoorlie.
Today, Western Australia
is still seen as remote and relatively cut off from the rest of Australia
. The deserts and wild tropics cut off sections of the state each year. The majority of people live around Perth
where the major industries are mining and exploration. It is one of the prettiest of Australian cities with little pollution and a Mediterranean feel that reflects the climate, heritage
and lifestyle of the people.
is lightly referred to as "sand groper country" in jest of the sandy soils. But for beach lovers, fishing, boating, swimming, diving and windsurfing enthusiasts WA is the ideal country. Land prices are significantly cheaper than in the Eastern states of Australia
and the West Australian way of life is somewhat more relaxed.
For locals and tourists the West Australian coast has much to offer. Just 2 -3 hrs south is the lush vineyards of Margaret River, and further South grow magnificent giant trees that cannot be seen anywhere else on this continent.
Just off the Perth
coast is Rottnest Island
, where locals take their boats for mooring in the calm, protected bays while they swim, dive, snorkel
or walk around the island. Further south Bunbury is the only large township set on the magnificent Geographe Bay
, as are the other smaller towns of Dunsborough
. Cape Naturalist at Busselton
to Cape Leewin at Augusta
is a pleasant day's drive although the wineries, limestone caves and spectacular coastline here is best savoured over time.
The coastline to the North of Perth
is the ideal getaway for fisherpeople and great chains of crayfishing fleets take year-round advantage of this abundant crustacean that delights the plates of West Australian's. The only other large town on the coast is Geraldton
, with Lancelin
, Jurien, Leeman
, Kalbari, Coral Bay
remaining idyllic, peaceful and spectacularly beautiful secrets.
To the far North West of the state is the Pilbara
region that is subject to the monsoonal wet seasons. It remains an important area to Aboriginals and due to its inhospitable terrain and inadequacy for farming is sparsely populated, yet is the perfect place for 4WD adventurers.