The capital of Western Australia, Perth (1996 population: 1,162,000) is located in the south-west of the state on the banks of the Swan River. Its suburbs extend from the Indian Ocean to the foothills of the Darling Range. The statistical region for Perth includes Fremantle and contains more than half the population for the state.
Although a settlement was established in the area by Captain James Stirling in 1829, no rapid expansion of the city occurred until gold was discovered at Coolgardie in 1892 and at Kalgoorlie a year later.
Although Perth still contains some buildings which were constructed during the convict era, (1850-68), the present city with its large modern buildings reflects the Western Australian mining boom. As a result of this expansion in the north-west of the state, many companies have established their headquarters in Perth. The main business district is located near Saint George's Terrace. The retail area, on Hay and Murray Streets, has recently been extended.
Perth is the terminus of the Indian-Pacific railway which links it with Sydney. There is also an international airport, while shipping mostly uses the port of Fremantle.
The University of Western Australia was established in 1913 and is located in the suburb of Nedlands in a spacious, tree-lined campus. Murdoch University was opened in 1975.
The city has been designed with many green areas and the 400 ha King's Park, which is mostly virgin bushland, is located close to the city centre. The black swans which were first seen on the Swan River by Dutch navigators in the seventeenth century, can still be seen at King's Park and other locations near the city. Perth has a large expanse of ocean beaches and at Rottnest Island, near the mouth of the Swan River, there is a reserve for the quokka, a small marsupial.