Big Grove, Western Australia © Adon Buckley
The state of Western Australia is big, bold and beautiful, and despite covering one third of Australia has a population of fewer than three million. It has miles of coastline washed by the Indian Ocean and a range of climatic zones from tropical through to temperate. The northern area is raw and harsh; the south is characterised by rolling green pasture; to the west is the ocean; while to the east lie golden wheat fields.
The true richness of Western Australia lies in its huge mineral deposits: gold, diamonds, iron ore, bauxite, nickel, natural gas and oil provide employment for much of the population. The goldfields of Kalgoorlie still produce a couple of thousand ounces of gold a day. The young and vital state capital, Perth, was built on the mineral wealth of the state and offers a leisurely, beach-orientated lifestyle for its large immigrant population.
Western Australia is one of the most diverse floral regions in the world, boasting something like 8,000 species of wildflower. Its rugged, rocky coastline has been responsible for plenty of tragedy: more than 700 vessels have come to grief here since the first Dutch sailors arrived on the shores of the state in the 17th century. The varied, sometimes harsh beauty of the landscapes gives Western Australia the allure of frontier country, and the multi-cultural population bears out this feeling. The vastness of the state and sparseness of the population also add a sense of freedom.