Perth History

Fremantle Prison - PerthThe first inhabitants of Australia arrived approximately 50 000 years ago. The Noongar people occupied Western Australia's southwest and the area in which Perth stands today was called Boorloo. The coastal plains of the area were very important to the people both spiritually and for hunting and gathering.

Europeans first started exploring the west coast of Australia in the early 17th century. However due to rough seas, dangerous reefs, Perth's sand bars and shipwreck the area was considered unfavourable and remained unexplored. It was not until 1829 when Captain James Stirling declared the area "as beautiful as anything of this kind I had ever witnessed", did the idea of settlement occur. The first ship to reach the Swan River was the HMS Challenger which was captained by Charles Fremantle in April 1829. Fremantle declared the Swan River Colony for Britain on 2 May 1829 and it became the first free settlement in Australia, with the first free settlers arriving in June 1829. On August 12 the felling of a tree marked the official foundation of the City of Perth.

However, all was not peaceful in new colony as the relationship between settlers and the Noongar people was volatile with several hostile encounters. This period of violence culminated in events such as the execution of the tribal leader Midgegooroo and his son Yagan and the massacre of the Pindjarep people. By 1843 the Noongar people were forced off their land and retreated to the swamps and lakes north of the settlement. Further displacement occurred due to the expansion of Perth during the gold rush and the Indigenous people found home in the area around Lake Gnangara. The camp here remained until the early 1980s and is now a school for Aboriginal children.

The 1890s was a significant decade in Perth's history due to the goldrushes in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. In 1891 the population of Perth was 8447 and tripled to 27 553 in 1901. People flocked to the area and business flourished with the first railways being built out to agricultural regions.

The next population boost was due to the discoveries of iron ore and natural gas throughout the state in the 1960s and 70s. Perth changed significantly over these decades as it became a modern city complete with skyscrapers dotting the horizon. Perth has continued to flourish and has become one of Australia's most beautiful and most welcoming cities. Perth is totally one of a kind and is the world's gateway to all that Western Australia has to offer from tourism to big business.

Perth History Timeline

1856 Perth is officially proclaimed a city by Queen Victoria
1877 Telegraph from Adelaide to Perth completed.
1881 The first suburban railway line opesn from Fremantle to Perth to Guildford.
1885 The West Mail weekly newspaper commences publishing.
1891 The goldrush begins
1893 Introduction of electricity to the city
1897 Fremantle Harbour officially opens.
1898 The Perth Zoo opens.
1899 The Perth Mint opens and the first electric trams start running
1903 A pipeline from Mundaring Weir to Kalgoorlie is opened.
1911 The University of Western Australia becomes Perth's first university.
1926 The Fremantle Railway Bridge collapses due to flooding of the Swan River
1929 Perth commemorates 100 years of British settlement
1930 Perth is connected to Adeliade and the rest of the eastern states by a telephone line
1958 Perth's trams retire.
1959 The Narrows Bridge is opened.
1962 Perth hosts the Commonwealth Games
1964 Eric Edgar Cooke was the last person hanged in WA.
1970 Perth hosts its first Test Cricket match against England.
1979 The WAY 1979 celebrates 150 years of European settlement occurs
1983 Australia II won the America's Cup. The Australia II was financed by Perth businessman Alan Bond on behalf of the Royal Perth Yacht Club
1985 Perth's first casino opens - The Burswood Casino
1987 The city hosts the America's Cup.

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