Perth Accommodation

History

In the past the geographical isolation offered many challenges to Western Australians. Not only did they suffer the ‘tyranny of distance’ through being Australians, but they were thousands of miles from the centres of power in their own country. Perth is actually closer to Jakarta than it is to Canberra, Australia’s capital. Nowadays, however, the technological revolution and cheap air travel has well and truly connected Perth to the rest of the world. Several high-ranking federal politicians are Perth-based, and the ‘eastern states’ have never been closer.

Western Australia was ‘discovered’ by Dutch seafarers in the early seventeenth century. The coast is littered with wrecks of the Spice Island-seekers using the trade winds as a fast trip eastward. It wasn’t until later that century that Willem de Vlamingh sailed up the Swan River and named it in honour of the black swans he found there, even though he thought them the work of the Devil. Vlamingh also named, rather prosaically, Rottnest Island, as he thought the quokkas he found there were large rats.

In 1827 the English arrived, in the person of Captain James Stirling, who wanted to establish a settlement in the Swan River. Stirling’s requests were granted two years later, and in 1829 the colony was founded. Initially unsuccessful in its attempts at agriculture, and losing most of its population to greater riches in the east, the young colony struggled to survive and, ironically, was saved by the arrival of convict labour from Britain in the 1850s.

Many of Perth’s and especially Fremantle’s finest buildings, which survive restored today, would not have been built without those convicts. The convicts added not only to the metropolitan labour force, but were sent to work on farms and thereby contributed to what was to become WA’s most significant export: wool.

The first premier of WA, Sir John (later Lord) Forrest, planned Kings Park and set aside the area as a botanical garden and nature reserve. His foresight has been appreciated by millions of Australians and visitors to the park. Forrest, who served as premier from 1890 to 1900, also oversaw the planning of the pipeline designed by engineer C.Y. O’Connor to carry water to Kalgoorlie and the eastern goldfields.

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