History of Western Australia

History of Western Australia

The human history of Western Australia spans between the first inhabitants arriving on the northwest coast about 55,000 years ago to events in the twentieth century.

Aboriginal settlement

:"For early human settlement in Australia see Prehistory of Australia and Aboriginal History of Western Australia"

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 [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] . 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 seventeenth century.

See also: Australian Aboriginal Prehistoric Sites.

Europeans arrive

The first European to sight Western Australia was the Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, who on 26 October 1616 landed at what is now known as Cape Inscription, Dirk Hartog Island. Before departing, Hartog left behind a pewter plate affixed to a post. The plate was subsequently discovered, replaced and repatriated to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. "See Hartog plate"

Another early visitor was Englishman William Dampier who in 1699 sailed down 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 expresses 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 Leeuwin's Land materialised at a later date as Cape Leeuwin.

Timeline of European discovery and exploration

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:
*1616 - Dirk Hartog in the "Eendracht" arrives at Cape Inscription and leaves a pewter plate. Coastal region in the vicinity is shown on Hartog's maps as "Eendrachtsland". Believed to be first landfall on Western Australian soil by Europeans. (An earlier 1606 encounter on the northern coast of Australia near Papua New Guinea by the "Duyfken" is credited as being the first Australian visit by European explorers.)
*1618 - The "Zeewulf" makes landfall north of Eendrachtsland.
*1619 - Frederick de Houtman in two ships bound for Batavia encountered dangerous shoals which were subsequently named Houtman Abrolhos. Following successful navigation of the Abrolhos, Houtman made landfall in the region Hartog had encountered.
*1622 - "Leeuwin" makes landing south of Abrolhos.
*1622 - English ship the "Tryall" is wrecked at Tryal Rocks off the northwest coast; 45 survivors reach Batavia independently in two boats.
*1626 to 1627 - "Gulden Zeepaert" skippered by Francois Thijssen sails along south coast towards Great Australian Bight.
*1629 - "Batavia" strikes a reef of the Abrolhos. Skipper Francisco Pelsaert sails the ship's small boat to Batavia for rescue. After returning 3 months later finds evidence of mutiny and many previous survivors murdered.
*1656 - The "Vergulde Draeck" (Gilt Dragon) en route to Batavia is shipwrecked only 107km north of the Swan River near Ledge Point
*1658 - Three Dutch ships visit south coast searching for the "Vergulde Draeck": "Waekende Boey" under Captain S. Volckertszoon, the "Elburg" under Captain J. Peereboom and the "Emeloort" under Captain A. Joncke.
*1688 and 1699 - William Dampier in the "Cygnet" explores the northwest coastline and sails down the coast.
*1697 - Willem de Vlamingh find Hartog's plate and replaces it with his own. He also explores the Swan River area.
*1712 - The Zuytdorp with 286 on board was shipwrecked near Kalbarri. The Dutch did not send a search party probably because no survivors were able to report the disaster. The crew were never heard from again, though it is probable that many initially survived because a campsite was found near the wreck.
*1772 On March 30, Frenchman Francois de St-Allouarn landed at Turtle Bay at the northern end of Dirk Hartog Island and claimed the island for France. [http://www.dirkhartogisland.com/history.htm]
*1791 - George Vancouver makes formal claim at Possession Point, King George Sound, Albany.
*1792 - Frenchman Bruni d'Entrecasteaux in charge of the "Recherche" and "L'Esperance" reaches Cape Leeuwin on 5 December and explores eastward along the southern coast.
*1801 - The French ships "Geographe" and "Naturaliste" under Nicolas Baudin and Emmanuel Hamelin, explore much of the coast north from Cape Leeuwin, including the Swan River. They discover de Vlamingh's plate.
*1801 - Matthew Flinders sights Cape Leeuwin en route to charting of southern Australian coastline.
*1803 - Matthew Flinders completes the first circumnavigation of Australia
*1803 - The "Geographe" and another French ship "Casuarina" follow much of the same coastline again on the way back to France.
*1818 - Louis de Freycinet finds de Vlamingh's plate and removes it to France.
*1826 - On October 26, Frenchman Dumont d'Urville in the "Astrolabe" visited King George Sound before sailing along the south coast to Port Jackson.
*1826 - On Christmas Day, just after the "Astrolabe" leaves, a military outpost established on behalf of New South Wales at Albany with the arrival of Major Edmund Lockyer on the "Amity".
*1827 - James Stirling explores Swan River area.
*1829 - Charles Fremantle declared the Swan River Colony for Britain. Shortly after, Stirling makes formal proclamation of possession.

British settlements

The first formal claim of possession for Britain was made by Commander George Vancouver RN (later captain) on 29 September 1791 on the spot he named Possession Point, at the tip of the peninsula between the waters he also named -- King George III Sound and Princess Royal Harbour at Albany. The "third" (III) was dropped later.

In the early 1800s the British became concerned about the possibility of a French colony being established on the coast of Western Australia and thus, in 1826, the New South Wales governor Ralph Darling established a settlement at King George Sound. A penal settlement in the area was considered but rejected. Instead, a small detachment headed by Edmund Lockyer with 18 soldiers, one captain, one doctor, one storekeeper and 23 convicts were sent as a labour force.

After the formal declaration in 1829 of the Swan River Colony (some 410 km to the North West) (see below), control of King George Sound was transferred from New South Wales to Western Australia and continued under a Government Resident. Captain James Stirling decreed that the settlement would be named "Albany" from 1832.

wan River Colony

The Swan River Colony was the name given to the British colony established on the Swan River by Captain James Stirling in 1829. The colonists first sighted land on 1 June, the official Proclamation was made on 18 June, and the foundation of the colony took place on 12 August. The two separate townsites of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the Western Australian capital city Perth.

Expansion beyond the Swan River

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. Some highlights of the first couple of decades are below:

*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 eventual settlement of Western Australia's first inland town of York in 1831. A successful sheep industry soon followed in the Avon valley.
*1833: On 5 January, the first issue of the "Perth Gazette" is launched. This is the forerunner to "The West Australian" newspaper.
*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. More information regarding this battle (including references) can be found at the List of massacres of indigenous Australians or at Pindjarup.

*1837: The colony's first brewery was established at the corner of Spring Street and Mounts Bay Road in Perth.

*1841: Explorer Edward John Eyre arrives in Albany walking across the Nullarbor Plain from the eastern states.

*1844: A 15-year-old John Gavin was the first European legally hanged in the colony.

*1848-1850: After 19 years of settlement, growth was very slow. The population of the area around Perth was still only about 1400. 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. Fact|date=February 2007

*1851: Augustus Gregory surveys the Greenough region near Geraldton and that area opens up to farming.


At its start in 1829, the Swan River Colony had its foundations as a "free settlement". However, the initial settlers had many difficulties which compelled them to seek help from the British, in an offer to accept convicts. Western Australia therefore became a penal colony in 1850. Between then and 1868, over 9000 convicts were transported to Western Australia on 43 convict ship voyages.

Late nineteenth century

Sheep farming was the most successful early agricultural activity, becoming quite productive in the Avon Valley in the 1830s. It spread to the Pilbara in the 1860s; the Murchison and Gascoyne were settled during the 1870s.

Some more notable events that occurred later in the nineteenth century are below:
*1877: The telegraph from Adelaide to Perth completed considerably improving intracontinental communication
*1883: Durack family settle around the Ord River in the East Kimberley.
*1885: Australian rules football, became the dominant football code when several local rugby football clubs switch codes. Before then AFL and rugby were equally prevalent. For more information see West Australian Football League.The first gold discovery in Western Australia was at Halls Creek in 1885. This gold rush was short lived though with further discoveries soon at other locations culminating in the major discoveries at Coolgardie in 1892 and Kalgoorlie in 1893 (see section below).
*1887: On 22 April, a cyclone struck the pearling fleet at Ninety Mile Beach near Broome claiming 140 lives. The storm was unexpected, being so late in the season. Bureau of Meteorology (1998). "Tropical Cyclones (A Guide for Mariners in Northwest Australia)", Pamphlet, Commonwealth of Australia]
*1889: The Great Southern Railway is opened with subsequent economical 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 is officially opened on the 10th August
*1897: Fremantle Harbour is officially opened after blasting of the rocky sandbar across the Swan River mouth and dredging under the guidance of C. Y. O'Connor.

Inland Exploration

The early explorers opened up the inland but they were not followed by eager developers because all they found was desert.

Notable explorers of the interior were:
*George Edward Grey explored the northern coastline and Gascoyne River area and Kalbarri around 1837
*Edward John Eyre was the first European to traverse the coastline of the Great Australian Bight and the Nullarbor Plain by land in 1840-41
*Augustus Gregory and Francis Thomas Gregory carried out extensive explorations along the continent's western coastline and hinterland in the 1840s and 1850s
*John Forrest led three expeditions from 1869 to 1874. In 1869, he led a fruitless search for the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, in the desert west of present-day Leonora. The following year, he surveyed Edward John Eyre's land route from Perth to Adelaide. In 1874, he led a party to the watershed of the Murchison River, and then east through the unknown desert centre of Western Australia. He became Western Australia's first Premier in 1890.
*Peter Egerton Warburton who made a journey from Alice Springs to the Western Australian coast in 1872
*Ernest Giles twice traversed the Gibson Desert between 1872 and 1876
*David Carnegie led an expedition in 1896 from Coolgardie through the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts to Halls Creek, and then back again.

Gold discovered

Until the 1870s the economy of the state was based on wheat, meat and wool. A major change in the state's fortunes occurred in the 1880s when gold was discovered and prospectors by the tens of thousands swarmed across the land in a desperate attempt to discover new goldfields. Paddy Hannan's discovery at Kalgoorlie, and the early discoveries at Coolgardie, sparked true gold fever. 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, Meekatharra, Nannine, Peak Hill, Garden Gully, Dead Finish, Pinnicles, Austin Island and Austin Mainland - grew up only to die when the seams were exhausted and the gold fever moved on.

The influx of miners from the eastern states and from overseas increased the presence of trade unions in Western Australia. The Trades and Labor Council, Perth was established in 1891 with Perth Trades Hall opened in 1912. The first edition of the "Westralian Worker" appeared on September 7, 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.

In the late nineteenth century there was talk of the gold-rich regions around Kalgoorlie leaving the colony of Western Australia and becoming a state called Auralia if Western Australia did not join the Commonwealth.


As Lieutenant Governor, Stirling had sole authority to draft laws and decide day-to-day affairs. In 1832 he appointed a Legislative Council of four government officials to assist him, and in 1839, four appointed colonists were added.

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 Councils decisions.

In 1887 a new constitution including the right of self-governance was drafted and sent to London by Governor Broome for approval. It was argued that due to the increasing wealth which was being generated by gold rushes, Western Australia deserved self government. The Act granting self-government was passed by the House of Commons and assented to by Queen Victoria in 1890, giving complete autonomy in matters with the exception of Section 70 of the Act which 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. Western Australians 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 October 21 1890 saw the city decorated with elaborate floral arches spanning the city's main streets and buildings were decked with banners and flags. John Forrest, who had argued Western Australians should accept Section 70 in order to obtain self government, attempted to have them changed by 1892. 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". For years Sir John Forrest fought with Robinson over Section 70 and Western Australia unilaterally passed the 1899 Constitution Amendment Act, taking control of Aboriginal Affairs without approval of the British House of Commons.

Today a group of Aboriginal elders from the Kimberley, is arguing before the Supreme Court 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.


On January 1 1901, 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, only doing so after a rail line connecting the west coast to the east coast was offered.

Indigenous issues

Until 1886 dealings with "natives" in Western Australia had been the responsibility of the British Colonial Office. In 1886 an Aboriginal Protection Board was established with five members and a secretary, all of whom were nominated by the Governor. Protectors of Aborigines were appointed by the board under the conditions laid down in the "Aborigines Protection Act" of 1886. In theory, Protectors of Aborigines were empowered to undertake legal proceedings on behalf of Aboriginal people. As the board had very limited funds Protectors received very limited remuneration, and so a range of people were appointed as local Protectors, including Resident Magistrates, Jail Wardens, Justices of the Peace and in some cases ministers of religion, though most were local Police Inspectors. The minutes of the board show they mostly dealt with matters of requests from religious bodies for financial relief and reports from Resident or Police Magistrates pertaining to trials and convictions of Aboriginal people under their jurisdiction.Fact|date=May 2007

The 1893 "Education Act" of Western Australia gave white parents the power to object to any Aboriginal child attending any school also attended by their children, a provision which saw Aboriginal children progressively and completely excluded from the state education system.

In 1897, as part of the Western Australian Government's attempt to gain control of Aboriginal Affairs, the Aborigines Department was set up as a result of the "Aborigines Act" 1897, which had abolished the Aborigines Protection Board. The Department operated as a subdepartment of the Treasury, with a very small staff under the Chief Protector of Aborigines, Henry Charles Prinsep. Repeated cuts in finances for the operating budget of the Aborigines Department, partly resulting from the 1905 Aborigines Act, saw this department merged in 1909 to form the Department of Aborigines and Fisheries.

A "Royal Commission on the Administration of Aborigines and the Condition of the Natives" chaired by Dr Walter Edmund Roth (1861-1933), Chief Protector of Aborigines in Queensland, was conducted in 1904, and discussed the growing "half-caste problem". Most Aborigines were living in regional areas, where sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women by whites led to an increasing number of "degenerate" mixed race children who were subsequently abandoned by their fathers. It led in 1905 to a new Act which extended the definition of Aboriginal to all half caste children and made all Aboriginal persons as wards of the state with the Chief Protector of Aborigines made legal guardian in place of the parents, with powers to remove children from their parents care and place them in custodial situations.

As the The Honourable J.M. Drew stated

:"I think it is our duty not to allow these children, whose blood is half-British, to grow up as vagrants and outcasts, as their mothers are now. There is a large number of absolutely worthless black and half-castes about who grow up to lives of prostitution and idleness; they are a perfect nuisance; if they were taken away from their surroundings of temptation much good might be done with them. There is no power to do this now, consequently a half - caste who possesses few of the virtues and nearly all the vices of whites, grows up to be a mischievous and very immoral subject. This Bill will tend, in a great measure, to remedy this abuse. I may say it may appear to be a cruel thing to tear away an Aborigine child from its mother, but it is necessary in some cases to be cruel to be kind."

The 1911 "Aborigines Act Amendment Act" significantly extended the Protector's guardianship power to remove Aboriginal children to the 'exclusion of the rights of the mother of an illegitimate or half caste child'. In that year 200 Aboriginal people had camped on the fringes of Katanning, in order to allow their children to get an education, but under the powers of the 1893 Education Act, parents in 1914 demanded that Aboriginal children be excluded from their school, and in 1915 the Katanning white community, acting on its own, had local police remove the Aboriginal fringe dwellers to what was the equivalent of a concentration camp at Carrolup.

In 1915, the appointment of A. O. Neville as Protector of Aborigines saw a change in policy. He saw the Aboriginal population of Western Australia as comprising two groups

* Full blood Aborigines, who were to be segregated from the community in order that they could become extinct.
* Half-caste Aborigines, who were to be assimilated through intermarriage within the white community as quickly as possible.

In 1922 in interests of economy and expediency the Carrolup River Native Settlement was shut and inmates transferred to Moore River Native Settlement near Moora, and the Carrolup land taken over by local farmers.

The Moseley Royal Commission heard evidence in 1934 that the Moore River Native Settlement a 'woeful spectacle', buildings over-crowded (by at least 50%), buildings and clothing was vermin ridden, there was no vocational training except for the chores given by staff, the diet lacked all fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, and health of inmates was seriously affected. Solitary confinement imprisonment of children in the "Boob" was stated to be barbarous and must be stopped. The Commission ruled that in its present condition it had 'no hope of success' with the children in its care.

Nevertheless Neville continued in his role as Chief Protector to argue before the Moseley Royal Commission of 1934 for an extension of his powers, and despite some opposition to this the commission agreed to support his recommendation. In 1936 Sections 8 and 12 of the new "Native Administration Act" the Chief Protector's guardianship powers were increased still further by a new definition of "native child" to mean any child with any Aboriginal descent, and further widened the scope of the Chief Protector's guardianship and therefore jurisdiction over all Aboriginal people in Western Australia.

A new "Native Welfare Act" in 1954 did nothing to limit these removal powers under the 1936 Act, which continued unabated. However amendments to the "Native Welfare Act" in 1963 repealed all previous legislation and abolished the Chief Protector's powers to remove children of Aboriginal descent from their biological parents. Nevertheless the removal of Aboriginal children continued under the arbitrary implementation of the broad provisions of the Child Welfare Act of 1947.

In 1972 a departmental reorganisation resulted in the functions of the then Native Welfare Department being spilt between two newly created Departments, the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority (AAPA) and the Department of Community Welfare (now the Department for Community Development), responsible for the care and placement of Aboriginal children in the welfare sector. The creation of the AAPA led to the end of the "Stolen Generation" as for the first time policies were enacted which allowed children of Aboriginal descent, considered at risk of neglect, to be fostered first and foremost by other members of their families. In this way, a century of acute suffering finally came to an end.

Development during the early twentieth century

The wealth generated from gold soon disappeared and by the early years of the twentieth 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.
*1911: The University of Western Australia becomes Western Australia's first university. No teaching happens until 1913 though. [http://www.uwa.edu.au/visitors/about/history] 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". [http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/cyclone1.htm]
*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.
*1930: Perth is connected to Adelaide (and subsequently the rest of the eastern states) by a telephone line.
*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. [http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/cyclone1.htm]
*1941: Battle between HMAS "Sydney" and the German raiding ship "Kormoran" off the coast near Carnarvon. Both ships sank, and the entire crew of 645 on board "Sydney" was lost.
*1942: Japanese planes attack Broome. The official death toll was 88. The settlements of Wyndham, Derby, Port Hedland and the Drysdale River Mission (Kalumburu) also experienced casualties.

Centenary and later celebrations

The centenary of European settlement in Western Australia was in 1929, just prior to the wall street crash and the subsequent world wide depression years. There were still older citizens of Perth who were either convicts or immediate descendants.

The basic distinctions between the celebrations are in the nature of Perth and Western Australia between 1929, 1979 and 2004.

The merging Court era 'development' phase in 1979, saw the 150th celebration in 1979 where the mining and resources boom was powering the community with population and economic growth.

The 2004 celebration is a very good contrast with 79, as the 'grip' on a centrality in the community is increasingly tenuous with a much more fragmented community - spatially, economically and politically.

The 175th celebration in 2004 was celebrated at a time where significant parts of the population may have had limited understanding or knowledge of the event.

ecessionism in Western Australia

"See Secessionism in Western Australia"

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.

After World War II

*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.
*1950: The worst aircraft disaster in Western Australian history occurred when 29 people die after a DC-4 plane called the "Amana" crashed near York on a flight to Adelaide from Perth. Less than one year earlier, an MMA DC-3 called the "Fitzroy" had crashed near Guildford with the loss of 18 lives.
*1952: On October 3 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. [http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/lcj/wayward/ch16.html]
*1961: In arguably Western Australia's worst bushfire, many small communities were destroyed including 132 houses in Dwellingup. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but 800 people were left homeless. [http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/wa/sevwx/perth/bushfires.shtml]
*1961: Minerals boom begins with legislation allowing bauxite mining in jarrah forests. The economy is bolstered over the next two decades by nickel mines around Kalgoorlie and iron ore mines in the north-west. [ [http://www.175anniversary.wa.gov.au/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.baby_boomers 175th Anniversary of Western Australia ] ]
*1964: 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 town of Meckering was almost destroyed in Australia's second worst earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter Scale. [http://www.seismicity.segs.uwa.edu.au/seismicity_of_western_australia/wa_historical/meckering]
*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.
*1979: The NASA space station Skylab crashed in the remote south eastern part of the state. Places like Rawlinna and Balladonia received international attention.
*1979: On 2 June 1979 there was a significant earthquake just east of Cadoux.
*1979: WAY 1979 and the publishing of the Sesquicentenary Celebrations Series (Western Australia) by the celebrations committee and Government.
*1983: Beginnings of WA Inc. Government deals with private businessmen lead to the loss of $600 million in public money and eventually a Royal Commission.

ee also

*History of Australia before 1901

External links

* [http://www.ccentre.wa.gov.au/html/exh01.htm Constitutional Centre of W.A.]
* [http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks05/0500301h.html "Western Australia: A History from its Discovery to the Inauguration of the Commonwealth" by J S Battye (1924)]


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