An Introduction To Perth

Perth is the capital and largest city of Western Australia. It is the fourth-most populous city in Australia, with an estimated population of 2.02 million (as of 30 June 2014) living in Greater Perth. Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with the majority of the metropolitan area of Perth located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp, a low coastal escarpment. The first areas settled were on the Swan River, with the city's central business district and port (Fremantle) both located on its shores. Perth is formally divided into a number of local government areas, which themselves consist of a large number of suburbs, extending from Two Rocks in the north to Rockingham in the south, and east inland to The Lakes.


Perth was originally founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829 as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony. It gained city status (currently vested in the smaller City of Perth) in 1856, and was promoted to the status of a Lord Mayorality in 1929.The city is named after Perth, Scotland, due to the influence of Sir George Murray, then British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The city's population increased substantially as a result of the Western Australian gold rushes in the late 19th century, largely as a result of emigration from the eastern colonies of Australia. During Australia's involvement in World War II, Fremantle served as a base for submarines operating in the Pacific Theatre, and a US Navy Catalina flying boat fleet was based at Matilda Bay. An influx of immigrants after the war, predominantly from Britain, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia, led to rapid population growth.

 

This was followed by a surge in economic activity flowing from several mining booms in the late 20th and early 21st centuries that saw Perth become the regional headquarters for a number of large mining operations located around the state. As part of Perth's role as the capital of Western Australia, the state's Parliament and Supreme Court are located within the city, as is Government House, the residence of the Governor of Western Australia. Perth became known worldwide as the "City of Light" when city residents lit their house lights and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead while orbiting the earth on Friendship 7 in 1962. The city repeated the act as Glenn passed overhead on the Space Shuttle in 1998. Perth came 8th in the Economist Intelligence Unit's August 2015 list of the world's most liveable cities, and was classified by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network in 2010 as a world city.

 

 

Climate

 


Perth receives moderate though highly seasonal rainfall, making it the fourth wettest Australian capital city after Darwin, Sydney and Brisbane. Summers are generally very hot and dry, lasting from December to late March, with February generally being the hottest month of the year. Winters are relatively mild and wet, making Perth a classic example of a Mediterranean climate. Perth is a particularly sunny city for this type of climate; it has an average of 8.8 hours of sunshine per day, which equates to around 3200 hours of annual sunshine, and 138.7 clear days annually, making it the sunniest capital city in Australia.


Summer is not completely devoid of rain and humidity, with sporadic rainfall in the form of short-lived thunderstorms, weak cold fronts and on occasions decaying tropical cyclones from Western Australia's north-west, which can bring significant rainfall. Winters are also known to be clear and sunny. The highest temperature recorded in Perth was 46.2 C on 23 February 1991, although Perth Airport recorded 46.7 C on the same day. On most summer afternoons a sea breeze, known locally as the "Fremantle Doctor", blows from the southwest, providing relief from the hot north-easterly winds. Temperatures often fall below 30 C a few hours after the arrival of the wind change. In the summer, the 3 pm dewpoint averages at around 12 C.


Winters are wet but mild, with most of Perth's annual rainfall being between May and September. The lowest temperature recorded in Perth was −0.7 C (30.7 F) on 17 June 2006. The lowest temperature within the Perth metropolitan area was −3.4 C (25.9 F) on the same day at Jandakot Airport. However, temperatures at or below zero are very rare occurrences and it seldom gets cold enough for frost to form.


The rainfall pattern has changed in Perth and southwest Western Australia since the mid-1970s. A significant reduction in winter rainfall has been observed with a greater number of extreme rainfall events in the summer months, such as the slow-moving storms on 8 February 1992 that brought 120.6 millimetres of rain, the highest recorded in Perth, and a severe thunderstorm on 22 March 2010, which brought 40.2 millimetres of rain and caused significant damage in the metropolitan area.

Climate data for Perth

Month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Record high C

45.8 46.2 42.4 37.6 34.3 28.1 26.3 27.8 34.2 37.3 40.3 44.2

Average high C

31.3 31.7 29.6 25.9 22.3 19.4 18.4 19.1 20.4 23.4 26.6 29.1

Average low C

18.2 18.4 16.6 13.8 10.5 8.6 7.7 8.3 9.6 11.5 14.3 16.4

Record low C

8.9 8.7 6.3 4.1 1.3 -0.7 0.0 1.3 1.0 2.2 5.0 7.9

Average rainfall mm

15.4 8.8 20.5 36.5 90.2 126.7 144.7 122.4 88.0 38.6 23.7 9.9

Avg. precipitation days

2.4 2.1 4.1 6.7 11.1 15.2 16.9 15.7 15.3 8.7 6.3 3.9

Avg. relative humidity (%)

39 38 39 46 50 56 57 54 53 46 44 41

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

 

 


Central business district
The central business district of Perth is bounded by the Swan River to the south and east, with Kings Park on the western end, while the railway reserve formed a northern border. A state and federally funded project named Perth City Link sunk a section of the railway line, to link Northbridge and the CBD for the first time in 100 years. The Perth Arena is a building in the city link area that has received a number of architecture awards. St Georges Terrace is the prominent street of the area with 1.3 million m2 of office space in the CBD. Hay Street and Murray Street have most of the retail and entertainment facilities. The tallest building in the city is Central Park, which is the seventh tallest building in Australia. The CBD has recently been the centre of a mining-induced boom, with several commercial and residential projects being built, including Brookfield Place, a 244 m (801 ft) office building for Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton.

Geology and landforms
Perth is set on the Swan River, named for the native black swans by Willem de Vlamingh, captain of a Dutch expedition and namer of WA's Rottnest Island who discovered the birds while exploring the area in 1697. Traditionally, this water body had been known by Aboriginal inhabitants as Derbarl Yerrigan. The city centre and most of the suburbs are located on the sandy and relatively flat Swan Coastal Plain, which lies between the Darling Scarp and the Indian Ocean.

 

The soils of this area are quite infertile. The metropolitan area extends along the coast to Two Rocks in the north and Singleton to the south, a total distance of approximately 125 kilometres. From the coast in the west to Mundaring in the east is a total distance of approximately 50 kilometres. The Perth metropolitan area covers 6,418 square kilometres.  Much of Perth was originally built on a series of freshwater wetlands running from Herdsman Lake in the west through to Claisebrook Cove in the east. To the east, the city is bordered by a low escarpment called the Darling Scarp. Perth is on generally flat, rolling land largely due to the high amount of sandy soils and deep bedrock. The Perth metropolitan area has two major river systems: the first is made up of the Swan and Canning Rivers; the second is that of the Serpentine and Murray Rivers, which discharge into the Peel Inlet at Mandurah.


Isolation
Perth is one of the most isolated major cities in the world. The nearest city with a population of more than 100,000 is Adelaide, 2,104 kilometres away. Only Honolulu (population 953,000), 3,841 kilometres from San Francisco, is more isolated.  Perth is geographically closer to both Dili, East Timor (2,785 kilometres), and Jakarta, Indonesia (3,002 kilometres), than to Sydney (3,291 kilometres), Brisbane (3,604 kilometres), or Canberra (3,106 kilometres).


 



Indigenous history
Before European colonisation, the area had been inhabited by the Whadjuk Noongar people for over 40,000 years, as evidenced by archaeological findings on the Upper Swan River. These Noongar people occupied the southwest corner of Western Australia and lived as hunter-gatherers. The wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain were particularly important to them, both spiritually, featuring in local mythology, and as a source of food. Rottnest, Carnac and Garden Islands were also important to the Noongar people.


The area where Perth now stands is also known as Boorloo by the Noongar people. Boorloo formed part of Mooro, the tribal lands of Yellagonga's group, one of several based around the Swan River and known collectively as the Whadjuk. The Whadjuk were part of a larger group of fourteen tribes that formed the south-west socio-linguistic block known as the Noongar (meaning "the people" in their language), also sometimes called the Bibbulmun. On 19 September 2006, the Federal Court of Australia brought down a judgment recognising Noongar native title over the Perth metropolitan area, in the case of Bennell v State of Western Australia [2006] FCA 1243. The judgment was overturned on appeal.

Early European sightings
The first documented sighting of the region was made by the Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew on 10 January 1697. Subsequent sightings between this date and 1829 were made by other Europeans, but as in the case of the sighting and observations made by Vlamingh, the area was considered to be inhospitable and unsuitable for the agriculture that would be needed to sustain a settlement.

Swan River Colony
Although the British Army had established a base at King George Sound (later Albany) on the south coast of Western Australia in 1826 in response to rumours that the area would be annexed by France, Perth was the first full-scale settlement by Europeans in the western third of the continent. The British colony would be officially designated Western Australia in 1832, but was known informally for many years as the Swan River Colony after the area's major watercourse.  On 4 June 1829, newly arriving British colonists had their first view of the mainland, and Western Australia's founding has since been recognised by a public holiday on the first Monday in June each year. Captain James Stirling, aboard Parmelia, said that Perth was "as beautiful as anything of this kind I had ever witnessed". On 12 August that year, Helen Dance, wife of the captain of the second ship, Sulphur, cut down a tree to mark the founding of the town.


It is clear that Stirling had already selected the name Perth for the capital well before the town was proclaimed, as his proclamation of the colony, read in Fremantle on 18 June 1829, ended "given under my hand and Seal at Perth this 18th Day of June 1829. James Stirling Lieutenant Governor". The only contemporary information on the source of the name comes from Fremantle's diary entry for 12 August, which records that they "named the town Perth according to the wishes of Sir George Murray".Murray was born in Perth, Scotland, and was in 1829 Secretary of State for the Colonies and Member for Perthshire in the British House of Commons. The town was named after the Scottish Perth, in Murray's honour. Beginning in 1831, hostile encounters between the British settlers and the Noongar people both large-scale land users with conflicting land value systems increased considerably as the colony grew. The hostile encounters between the two groups of people resulted in a number of events, including the execution of the Whadjuk elder Midgegooroo, the death of his son Yagan in 1833, and the Pinjarra massacre in 1834.


The racial relations between the Noongar people and the Europeans were strained due to these happenings. Because of the large amount of building in and around Boorloo, the local Whadjuk Noongar people were slowly dispossessed of their country. They were forced to camp around prescribed areas, including the swamps and lakes north of the settlement area including Third Swamp, known to them as Boodjamooling. Boodjamooling continued to be a main camp-site for the remaining Noongar people in the Perth region, and was also used by travellers, itinerants, and homeless people. By the gold-rush days of the 1890s they were joined by miners who were en route to the goldfields. In 1850, Western Australia was opened to convicts at the request of farming and business people looking for cheap labour. Queen Victoria announced the city status of Perth in 1856.

Federation and beyond
After a referendum in 1900, Western Australia joined the Federation of Australia in 1901. It was the last of the Australian colonies to agree to join the Federation, and did so only after the other colonies had offered several concessions, including the construction of a transcontinental railway line from Port Augusta in South Australia to Kalgoorlie to link Perth with the eastern states.
In 1933, Western Australia voted in a referendum to leave the Australian Federation, with a majority of two to one in favour of secession. However, an election held shortly before the referendum had voted out the incumbent "pro-independence" government, replacing it with a government that did not support the independence movement. Respecting the result of the referendum, the new government nonetheless petitioned the Agent General of the United Kingdom for independence, where the request was simply ignored.

Perth's growth and relative prosperity, especially since the mid-1960s, has resulted from its role as the main service centre for the state's resource industries, which extract gold, iron ore, nickel, alumina, diamonds, mineral sands, coal, oil, and natural gas. Whilst most mineral and petroleum production takes place elsewhere in the state, the non-base services provide most of the employment and income to the people of Perth.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Education is compulsory in Western Australia between the ages of six and seventeen, corresponding to primary and secondary school. Tertiary education is available through a number of universities and technical and further education (TAFE) colleges.

Primary and secondary education
Students may attend either public schools, run by the state government's Department of Education, or private schools, usually associated with a religion.  The Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) is the credential given to students who have completed Years 11 and 12 of their secondary schooling. In 2012 the minimum requirements for students to receive their WACE changed.


Tertiary education
Perth is home to four public universities: the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, and Edith Cowan University. There is also one private university, the University of Notre Dame.  The University of Western Australia, which was founded in 1911, is renowned as one of Australia's leading research institutions. The university's monumental neo-classical architecture, most of which is carved from white limestone, is a notable tourist destination in the city. It is the only university in the state to be a member of the Group of Eight, as well as the Sandstone universities. It is also the state's only university to have produced a Nobel Laureate Barry Marshall who graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1975 and was awarded a joint Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2005, together with Robin Warren.


Curtin University (known as Curtin University of Technology until 2010) is Western Australia's largest university by student population, and was known from its founding in 1966 until 1986 as the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT) and had amalgamated with Western Australian School of Mines and the Muresk Institute. It has a rapidly growing research reputation and is the only Western Australian university to produce PhD recipients of the AINSE gold medal, the highest possible recognition for PhD level science and engineering research excellence in Australia and New Zealand. Murdoch University was established in the 1970s, and is Australia's largest campus in geographical area (2.27 km2), necessary to accommodate Western Australia's only veterinary school.


Edith Cowan University was established in the early 1990s from the existing Western Australian College of Advanced Education (WACAE) which itself was formed in the 1970s from the existing Teachers Colleges at Claremont, Churchlands, and Mount Lawley. It incorporates the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). The University of Notre Dame Australia was established in 1990. Notre Dame was established as a Catholic university with its lead campus in Fremantle and a large campus in Sydney. Its campus is set in the west end of Fremantle, using historic port buildings built in the 1890s, giving Notre Dame a distinct European university atmosphere. Though Notre Dame shares its name with the University of Notre Dame in Indiana USA, it is a separate institution, claiming only "strong ties" with its American namesake.


Colleges of TAFE provide trade and vocational training, including certificate- and diploma-level courses. TAFE began as a system of technical colleges and schools under the Education Department, from which they were separated in the 1980s and ultimately formed into regional colleges. Four exist in the Perth metropolitan area: Central Institute of Technology (formerly Central TAFE); West Coast Institute of Training (northern suburbs); Polytechnic West (eastern and south-eastern suburbs; formerly Swan TAFE); and Challenger Institute of Technology (Fremantle/Peel).


 

 

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