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Perth history

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Perth was not the first place in Western Australia to be settled. That honour fell to Albany in 1826. Perth was second, the Swan River Colony here being established in 1829. The city was so named because the Secretary of State for the Colonies in Britain at the time, Sir George Murray, was the member for the Scottish city of Perth.

Perth history

The West Australian newspaper was established in 1833 and has been published continuously since, an impressive record.

Although this is not generally thought of as having been a penal settlement, in fact convicts were brought here from 1850 until 1868, and it was the last place in Australia to accept prisoners.

For a city of its size, Perth is one of the most isolated places on earth. To reach Adelaide, the nearest Australian capital city and the nearest place of similar size, takes a day and a half of continuous travel by land, and Perth is closer to Singapore than it is to Sydney. No wonder that Western Australians feel that they are different from the inhabitants of the eastern states.

One of the incentives held out to the people of Western Australia to encourage federation in 1901 was that the Commonwealth Government would construct a railway line connecting the state with the rest of the continent. That was duly done, and proved a valuable link between this isolated city and eastern Australia, although the standard gauge line did not reach Perth until 1969.

The explorer John Forrest became Premier of Western Australia in 1890 and he was a great proponent both of federation and of the construction of the railway. However, the promise was one matter and the actual construction was another. It took eleven years of discussion before the work actually began, but then, once it was started, the building took only another five years. The railway is still the best, although not the fastest, way to reach Perth. The Indian-Pacific offers one of the world's most famous train journeys. It departs from Sydney on Wednesdays and Saturdays and reaches Perth nearly three days later. From Adelaide, the same train leaves on Thursday and Sunday evenings. One great merit of the train is that it crosses the true Nullarbor Plain, whereas the road merely skirts the edge of the plain a hundred kilometres south of the railway line. The railway gives passengers an experience of what inland Australia is really like. This is the longest stretch of straight railway in the world - 477.14 kilometres with no bend for six hours.

Despite its fairly long history, by Australian standards, Perth gives the impression of being a thoroughly modern city. Yet, if one looks around, one can still find the older buildings and the history, especially in the city centre. It is a particularly attractive city, with the Swan River, named for the black swans which were always to be found on it, running through its centre, and with King's Park offering a fine view down over the urban area.


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