About Perth, WA & Oz

Perth, Western Australia & Australia, including Government Organisations

Creative practitioners should have some awareness of the context in which they create. The following includes links about the region of Perth prior to colonisation, modern Perth, as well as government links for Perth, Western Australia and Australia.

Perth Region - Pre-Colonisation

  • Visit Perth > Aboriginal Culture - "Perth City is located in the ancient country of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people, who have been the Traditional Owners of the south west of Western Australia for at least 45,000 years. The geographical features and natural environment that was fundamental to Nyoongar culture and sustenance, has been substantially transformed by development of Perth City over the last 200 years..." [More]

  • Noongar Culture - "The aim of the Kaartdijin website is to share the richness of our knowledge, culture and history in order to strengthen our community and promote wider understanding. "

  • Indigenous history of the Swan and Canning rivers (project with the Swan River Trust) PDF Link - various works compiled and presented by Debra Hughes‐Hallett for Curtin University.

  • Whadjuk [Wiki entry] - "....The traditional tribal territory of the Whadjuk, in Norman Tindale's estimate, took in some 2,600 square miles (6,700 km2) of land, from the Swan River, together with its eastern and northern tributaries." [More]

  • Visit Perth: Indigenous history: "At the time of colonisation in 1829, Perth Noongar people were composed of four principal groups – Mooro, Beeliar, Beeloo, Weeip – loosely determined by the Swan River (or Derbarl Yerrigan). Mooro country stretched from the Swan River northwards beyond the limits of the current metropolitan area. The main sources of food were the sea, the river and an extensive system of freshwater lakes. The river is a sacred place for Noongar people and they preserved many stories of the Wagyl, a water-serpent understood to be responsible for the creation and maintenance of the river and most of the water features around Perth.... " [More]

Maps of Perth's Pre-History and Early History:

Other Pre-Colonial Resources

"Perth (/ˈpɜːrθ/ (listen) PURTH) is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is named after the city of Perth, Scotland and is the fourth-most populous city in Australia, with a population of 2.06 million living in Greater Perth.[1] Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with the majority of the metropolitan area located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp. The first areas settled were on the Swan River at Guildford, with the city's central business district and port (Fremantle) both later founded downriver. Perth was founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829 as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony....

The city's population increased substantially as a result of the Western Australian gold rushes in the late 19th century. 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.[9] 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 several large mining operations located around the state.... [More]

Other Resources for Colonial Perth

  • J.S.Battye Library of WA History - Dr Battye was a historian who wrote and compiled several books on the history of Western Australia and was an avid collector of Western Australian historical material, including early Western Australian newspapers, Colonial Secretary's Office correspondence and various manuscripts.

  • Commemorating the colonial Pilbara: beyond memorials into difficult history - "In this paper, we explore the memorialization and commemoration of the Northwest's traumatic colonial history and consider a history of how heritage has been represented across the landscape. " (requires access to Taylor Francis Online)

  • An Economic History of WA Since Colonial Settlement - "This publication traces events and developments that helped transform the Western Australian economy from European settlement to the present day. The focus is on the development of the European-style market economy after 1829, although it is acknowledged that the State’s history began well before this time."

  • Perth and Surrounds Suburb Names (Landgate) - "The following information is a summary of the origins of metropolitan suburb names in Western Australia."

  • Aborigines' Dreaming or Britain's Terra Nullius: Perceptions of Land Use in Colonial Australia - "This paper begins with a brief historical overview of the Aborigines and their settlement of Australia beginning 70,000 to 40,000 years ago, focusing specifically on the structure of Aborigine society and their connection to the landscape..."

  • Rottnest or Wadjemup: Tourism and the Forgetting of Aboriginal Incarceration and the Pre-colonial History of Rottnest Island - "Rottnest Island Prison was established in 1838. Situated 18 kilometers off the coast of Western Australia (WA), adjacent to the capital city of Perth, it is Australia’s first and only mass segregation of Aboriginal people in a racially determined prison. It served this purpose for almost 100 years, finally closing in 1931, after incarcerating up to 4,000 people captured from different Aboriginal nations all over the State of Western Australia (Green and Moon 1997: 380)..." (requires sign in to ResearchGate)

  • Introduced diseases among the Aboriginal People of colonial Southeast Australia 1788-1990 - "This thesis examines one of the major biological components of this change - the diseases that were introduced into Australian Aboriginal populations during the process of colonisation. The epidemiology, timing, diffusion of diseases are considered with specific attention given to infectious and respiratory diseases that were responsible for causing major epidemics of morbidity and mortality. "

  • Heritage Inventory (2015) - "The Central Perth Redevelopment Scheme (the Scheme) empowers the MRA to compile and maintain a list of Heritage Places and Precincts, called a Heritage Inventory (HI)."

  • History of Perth: From Aboriginal Origins to Modern Times - short overview by the James Hardy for historycooperative.org.

Perth City/Council Links

Council Organisational Structure.pdf

Western Australian Government

Government of Western Australia [from Wikipedia]

"The Government of Western Australia, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government of Western Australia, is the Australian state democratic administrative authority of Western Australia. It is also commonly referred to as the WA Government or the Western Australian Government.

The Government of Western Australia, a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, was formed in 1890 as prescribed in its Constitution, as amended from time to time. Since the Federation of Australia in 1901, Western Australia has been a state of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Constitution of Australia regulates its relationship with the Commonwealth. Under the Australian Constitution, Western Australia ceded legislative and judicial supremacy to the Commonwealth, but retained powers in all matters not in conflict with the Commonwealth. "


WA Government Links

Australian Government

Overview of Government of Australia [from australia.gov.au]

"Australia's formal name is the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia is both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as Australia's head of state.


The Commonwealth of Australia was formed on 1 January 1901 when six partly self governing British colonies united to become states of a nation. The rules of government for this new nation were enshrined in the Australian Constitution- external site, which defined how the Commonwealth government was to operate and what issues it could pass laws on.

The birth of our nation is often referred to as 'federation' because the Constitution created a 'federal' system of government. Under a federal system, powers are divided between a central government and individual states. In Australia, power was divided between the Commonwealth federal government and the six state governments.

Australian government

The Australian Parliament- external site consists of the Queen (represented by the Governor-General), the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Parliament passes laws which affect the whole country. Section 51 of the Constitution defines a number of issues that the Parliament can make laws on.

There are three arms of government in Australia:

  • the legislature (or Parliament) is responsible for debating and voting on new laws to be introduced under the power of section 51.

  • the executive (the Australian Government) is responsible for enacting and upholding the laws established by the legislature. Certain members of the legislature (called ministers) are also members of the executive, with special responsibilities for certain areas of the law.

  • the judiciary is the legal arm of the federal government. It is independent of the other two arms, and is responsible for enforcing the laws and deciding whether the other two arms are acting within their powers.

State and territory government

Although the six states joined together to form the Commonwealth of Australia, they still each retain the power to make their own laws over matters not controlled by the Commonwealth under Section 51 of the Constitution. State governments also have their own constitutions, as well as a structure of legislature, executive and judiciary.

Territories are areas within Australia's borders that are not claimed by one of the six states. Territories can be administered by the Australian Government, or they can be granted a right of self-government.

There are eight Australian territories in addition to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Northern Territory (NT): Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay Territory, Norfolk Island and Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. These territories are governed according to Commonwealth law and the laws of a state, the ACT or NT. Most have an appointed Administrator. Norfolk Island is no longer self-governing. The Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 has replaced the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly and an elected Regional Council will be established on 1 July 2016.

Unlike the states, whose powers are defined through the Constitution, the powers of these territories are defined in Commonwealth law which grants them the right of self-government. This also means that the Parliament can alter or revoke these powers at will. Under Section 121 of the Australian Constitution- external site, territories can become states with the approval of the Parliament.

State and territory government provides more information on the six state governments, the federal-state relationship, and the government of Australia's territories.

Local government

Constitutional responsibility for local government lies with the state and territory governments. Consequently, the roles and responsibilities of local government differ from state to state. Local governments are also known as local councils."