Western Australia embraces the western third of Australia, to the W. of South Australia and its Northern Territory. It extends from 13° to 35° S. lat. and 113° to 129" E. long., being 1500 miles long by 1000 broad. The area is 1,060,000 sq. m., or 678,400,000 acres - i.e. nearly twenty times the size of England. While the central portions are stony or sandy, with the north and south coasts poor in soil, there is good land at the west and in the north-east. Less hilly than eastern Australia, it is not so well watered. The Darling Range, 300 miles in length, has few peaks of 3000 feet; Koikyeunerup, north of King George's Sound, is 3500 feet; and the King Leopold Mountains are north-east. Few rivers run in the dry season. There are shallow salt lakes inland, and a number of islands off the coast. Perth, the capital (pop. 36,274), has Fre-mantle (pop. 20,450) for its port. Albany (3600), the port on King George's Sound, is 261 miles SE. of Perth by rail. The climate is dry, bright, and free from miasma, though the N. and NW. are uncomfortably hot. Perth varies from 38° to 106° in the shade; its average annual rainfall is 33 inches. Pop. (1870) 25,353, including 1790 convicts; (1881) 29,708; (1901) 194,890, besides about 5260 aborigines.
The natural history is not unlike that of the rest of Australia (q.v.). Trepang or beche-de-mer furnishes an export. Timber of excellent quality (mainly eucalyptus, including the .jarrah, wandoo, etc.) abounds to the SW. There are 150 acacias, and sandalwood grows. There are six pastoral districts in the colony. The desert has some good oases. Of 130,000 acres in crop, wheat and other cereals do well. The gardens have twenty-five sorts of fruits, grapes being fine and abundant. But the western portion only has moisture enough for ordinary husbandry. Granite and recent limestone are the great geological features. There are many workable seams of good coal and lignite. Geraldine, in the Victoria district, had lead and copper mines in 1842. The Greenbushes yield tin. Magnetite and hematite iron occur in immense lodes; manganese and antimony are found. A little gold was found in 1868 and succeeding years, in larger quantities since 1885 in the districts of Kimberley, Yilgarn, Southern Cross, Pilbarra, Ashburton, Roebourne, and Murchison, and in 1892-93 at Coolgardie (q.v.), where the finds have surpassed all previous Australian experience. Lack of water hampers mining progress, and the sinking of artesian wells and making of tanks is being carried out. The imports for 1892 were £1,391,000; the exports (gold, silver, copper, wool, skins, jarrah, pearls, tin, and karri), £882,148. In 1903 these had increased to£6,769,922and £10,324,732 respectively. Revenue (1880), £180,050; (1892) £543,889; (1903) £3,996,499. Expenditure (1880), £204,337; (1892) £550,616; (1903) £3,886,802. The debt in 1903 was £15,627,298. The railways extend to upwards of 2100 miles (1520 government property, about 600 in private hands). Spaniards and Portuguese had the western and northern coasts in their maps about 1530. The Dutch (Dirk Hartog, Edel, De Witt, etc.) rediscovered these parts in 1616-27. A temporary settlement was made from Sydney, at the Sound, in 1825. A private association in 1828 obtained land from the government, and in 1829 founded the Swan River Settlement at Fremantle, Perth also dating from the same year. Transportation hither began in 1850, and ceased in 1867. Responsible government was granted in 1890; and the former colony is now one of the federated states of the Australian Commonwealth (1901). See books by Giles (1889), Bonwick (1890), Hart (1893), Calvert (1894), J. M. Price (1896), and the annual handbooks and bluebooks.