King Leopold Ranges
The King Leopold Ranges are a range of hills in the western Kimberley region of Western Australia. The range was named on 6 June 1879 by the explorer Alexander Forrest, during an expedition in the Kimberley area, after King Leopold II of Belgium, "for the great interest taken by His Majesty in exploration". Crossed by the Gibb River Road about 134 kilometres east of Derby, part of the ranges are covered by the 3,921 square kilometres King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park, managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife; the ranges separate the main Kimberley plateau from the southern Fitzroy plains and consist of quartz sandstone intruded by dolerite. The ranges are shaped like a crescent with a length of 567 kilometres running from the northern end of the Durack Range in the East to east of Secure Bay in the West Kimberley; the range is estimated to cover a total area of 30,794 square kilometres. The ranges, which have an average height 600 metres, were named by Alexander Forrest in 1879 after King Leopold II of Belgium.
The highest point of the range is found at Mount Wells, 983 metres above mean sea level. The next two highest peaks are Mount Ord at 936 metres and Mount Broome at 927 metres. Nearby features include Mount Hart, Bell Gorge, Silent Grove and Lennard Gorge as well as the Napier Range and Queen Victoria's Head granite outcrop. Fitzroy Bluff is formed. Camping is permitted at Silent Grove; the traditional owners of the area are the Ngarinjin and Bunaba peoples. Cattle were first overlanded across the range in 1903. Leaving from Fitzroy Crossing and used to stock Mount Barnett Station, the trip took over six weeks to complete; the ranges will be renamed to Wilinggin Ranges and along with the name King Leopold Conservation park will form part of the Wilinggin National Park The ranges are a distinct physiographic section of the larger Kimberley Block province, which in turn is part of the larger West Australian Shield division. The King Leopold Range is made up of many smaller ranges including.
John Forrest, 1st Baron Forrest of Bunbury was an Australian explorer, the first Premier of Western Australia and a cabinet minister in Australia's first federal parliament. As a young man, he won fame as an explorer by leading three expeditions into the interior of Western Australia, for which he was awarded the 1876 Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Medal, he was appointed Surveyor General and in 1890 became the first Premier of Western Australia, its only premier as a self-governing colony. Forrest's premiership gave the state ten years of stable administration during a period of rapid development and demographic change, he pursued a policy of large-scale public works and extensive land settlement, he helped to ensure that Western Australia joined the federation of Australian states. After federation, he moved to federal politics, where he was at various times postmaster-general, Minister for Defence, Minister for Home Affairs and acting Prime Minister, he was affiliated with the Protectionist Party from 1901 to 1906, the Western Australian Party from 1906 to 1909, the Commonwealth Liberal Party from 1909 to 1917 the Nationalist Party of Australia from 1917 to 1918.
Shortly before his death, Forrest was informed that the King had approved his elevation to the British peerage as Baron Forrest of Bunbury. Forrest was one of 10 children of William and Margaret Forrest, who came out as servants under Dr John Ferguson in 1842, he was born at Preston point near Bunbury in what was the British colony of Western Australia. He was known as Jack to his family. Among his seven brothers were Alexander Forrest and David Forrest, he attended the government school in Bunbury under John Hislop until the age of 12, when he was sent north to Perth to attend the Bishop's Collegiate School, now Hale School, starting there in January 1860. In November 1863, he was apprenticed to a government land surveyor named Thomas Carey; when his term of apprenticeship ended in November 1865, he became the first man born and educated in the colony to qualify as a land surveyor. He commenced work as a surveyor with the government's Lands and Surveys Department. On 2 September 1876 in Perth, Forrest married Margaret Elvire Hamersley.
The Hamersleys were a wealthy family, Forrest gained in wealth and social standing from the marriage. However, to their disappointment the marriage was childless. Between 1869 and 1874, Forrest led three expeditions into the uncharted land surrounding the colony of Western Australia. In 1869, he led a fruitless search for the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt in the desert west of the site of the present town of Leonora; the following year, he surveyed Edward John Eyre's land route, from Perth to Adelaide. In 1874, he led a party to the watershed of the Murchison River and east through the unknown desert centre of Western Australia. Forrest published an account of his expeditions, Explorations in Australia, in 1875. In 1882, he was made a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Victoria for his services in exploring the interior. In March 1869, Forrest was asked to lead an expedition in search of Leichhardt, missing since April 1848. A few years earlier, a party of Aborigines had told the explorer Charles Hunt that a group of white men had been killed by Aborigines a long time ago, some time afterwards, an Aboriginal tracker named Jemmy Mungaro had corroborated their story and claimed to have been to the location.
Since it was thought that these stories might refer to Leichhardt's party, Forrest was asked to lead a party to the site, with Mungaro as their guide and there to search for evidence of Leichhardt's fate. Forrest assembled a party of six, including the Aboriginal trackers Mungaro and Tommy Windich, they left Perth on 15 April 1869, they headed in a north-easterly direction, passing through the colony's furthermost sheep station on 26 April. On 6 May, they encountered a group of Aborigines who offered to guide the party to a place where there were many skeletons of horses. Forrest's team accompanied this group in a more northerly direction, but after a week of travelling it became clear that their destination was Poison Rock, where the explorer Robert Austin was known to have left eleven of his horses for dead in 1854, they turned once more towards the location indicated by their guide. The team arrived in the location to be searched on 28 May, they spent three weeks surveying and searching an area of about 15,000 km² in the desert west of the site of the present-day town of Leonora.
Having found no evidence of Leichhardt's fate, Mungaro having changed his story and admitted that he had not visited the site, they decided to push as far eastwards as they could on their remaining supplies. The expedition reached its furthest point east on 2 July, near the present-day site of the town of Laverton, they turned for home, returning by a more northerly route and arriving back in Perth on 6 August. They had been absent for 113 days, had travelled, by Forrest's reckoning, over 3,600 kilometres, most of it through uncharted desert, they had found no sign of Leichhardt, the country over which they travelled was useless for farming. However, Forrest did report that his compass had been affected by the presence of minerals in the ground, he suggested that the government send geologists to examine the area; the expedition achieved little, but it was of great personal advantage to Forrest whose reputation with his superiors and in the community at large was enhanced. That year, Forrest was selected to lead an expedition that would survey a land route along the Great Australian Bight between the colonies of South Australia and Western Australia.
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Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars
During the Hawkesbury Settlement there were a series of incidents between settlers and New South Wales Corps and the Indigenous clans of the Hawkesbury river. The third settlement was at the Hawkesbury river, it began in 1794. A minority of these settlements were established by soldiers; the local Darug people raided farms and murdered settlers until Governor Macquarie dispatched troops from the British Army 46th Regiment in 1816. These troops patrolled the Hawkesbury Valley and ended the conflict by killing 14 Indigenous Australians in a raid on their campsite. Indigenous Australians led by Pemulwuy conducted raids around Parramatta during the period between 1795 and 1802; these attacks led Governor Philip Gidley King to issue an order in 1801 which authorised settlers to shoot Indigenous Australians on sight in Parramatta, Georges River and Prospect areas. Many of the Aboriginal nations allied themselves to the British in order to conquer more land for their tribes, just as returned to a state of war against the British.
It was fought using guerrilla-warfare tactics. The engagement resulted in the defeat of the Hawkesbury river and Nepean river Indigenous clans who were subsequently dispossessed of their lands. With the expansion of European settlement, large amounts of land was cleared for farming, which resulted in the destruction of Aboriginal food sources. This, combined with the introduction of new diseases such as smallpox, caused resentment within the Aboriginal clans against the British and resulted in violent confrontations, coordinated by men such as Pemulwuy; the Sydney region comprised a variety of nations. These nations were the Eora who lived along the coast, the Tharawal to the south, the Dharug to the northwest and the Gandagara to the southwest. Within the language groups there were several clans; the Eora people comprised three main clans known as the Cadigal and the Cammeraygal, several smaller ones. The Dharug people, were the largest dialect of the Sydney region and consisted of the Wangal, Boorooberongal, Bidjigal, Mulgoa, Bool-bain-ora, Cabrigal and the Dural clans.
A clan numbered between 50–100 people. Following Britain's loss of its American colonies during the American Revolutionary War, economic situations in Britain forced it to establish new colonies. After Captain James Cook wrote that he had claimed the east coast of Australia for Britain when standing on Possession Island in 1770, it was decided that a penal colony would be set up there to help relieve Britain's jails as well as to prevent French influence from growing in the Pacific; the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 at Port Jackson marked the beginning of the colonization of Australia. At the time it was used as a penal colony to which criminals and political dissidents were sent as punishment, however, a small number of free settlers took up land; the penal colony had been established at Port Jackson, the traditional land of the Cadigal people. The penal colony had a population of around one thousand and for the first few years struggled to adapt to the Australian climate. In March 1789, sixteen convicts marched to Botany Bay with the intention of plundering the natives of their fishing-tackle and spears.
They had armed themselves with whatever tools they could find such as hatchets and clubs. As they arrived near the bay a body of natives ambushed them, in the skirmish most of the convicts fled; those who fled back to the camp alerted the military to the attack. An officer with a detachment of marines rushed to their aid, however they were too late to repel the natives which left one convict dead and seven wounded. Arthur Phillip sought no vengeance against the natives for this event as the convicts had hostile intentions, instead dealt punishments on the convicts involved. In July 1789 Governor Phillip's group met the first two Indigenous men from the area, they exchanged a spear for a hatchet and newly shot duck. The spear was refused; the clans called the Hawkesbury river Dee-rab-bun. On 7 September 1790, upon hearing news of a gathering of natives at South-head near Broken Bay, Governor Arthur Phillip and three others made their way towards the reported happenings; when the boat arrived at Manly Cove, the natives were found busily consuming on a whale.
Governor Phillip stepped out accompanied by one seaman, Lieutenant Waterhouse. Phillip called out for Bennelong, a native whom he befriended, discoursed for some time at the pleasure of seeing his old acquaintance. Gifts were traded between them and continued for more than half an hour until a native armed with a spear came forward and stopped at a distance of twenty to thirty yards from the party. Phillip called to him, advancing at the same time. However, as the governor came nearer to the native it only seemed to terrify him further and subsequently fixed his lance in his throwing-stick and aimed it at him. Phillip thought to retreat would be more dangerous than to advance and so he called out "Weeree Weeree". Watkin Tench reports in his journal that Phillip took out his dirk and threw it on the ground to show he meant no harm but the aboriginal man was frightened by the noise of this action, his words fell on deaf ears and the native fired his lance, striking the governor on his right shoulder, as the native retreated into the woods.
Instant confusion on both sides took place
The Bathurst War, was a war between the Wiradjuri nation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the successful Blaxland and Wentworth expedition to find a route through the "impenetrable" Blue Mountains in 1813, this allowed the colony to expand onto the vast fertile plains of the west. Settlement of the new land was slow, but following a change of government, Governor Thomas Brisbane came to power allowing a flood of land grants to the west of the Blue Mountains; the enormous influx of British colonists put massive strain on the traditional food sources and sacred landmarks of the Wiradjuri. By early 1824, war had broken out in which the Wiradjuri adopted a guerrilla-style approach, after Governor Thomas Brisbane declared martial law the resistance soon collapsed in late 1824. Attempts to cross the Blue Mountains had been made from 1790 onwards with convicts seeking a way to escape and adventurers eager to explore the region. However, all of these attempts failed and it was to be over 20 years before a way across was found.
In May 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth set out with a plan to find a passage through the impenetrable Blue Mountains. After 21 days of traveling through 50 miles of rugged terrain, the party reached Mount Blaxland. From here they saw a vast expanse of forest and grass in which Blaxland wrote was rich enough "to support the stock of the colony for the next thirty years"; this was in fact the land of one of the largest language groups in Australia. The Wiradjuri inhabited an area bounded by the Blue Mountains in the east, the western slopes in the south, the change of open forest to grassy plains in the north and west; the tribes led by Windradyne lived in the eastern parts of this territory, connected to the other groups by a common language as well as cultural and trade links. After passage through the Blue Mountains had been secured, assistant surveyor George Evans and his party had been instructed to further explore the country. Evans' reports confirmed of excellent pastures beyond the mountains to which Governor Macquarie ordered a road be built from the Nepean River.
In less than six months the 100-mile road had been completed. Soon after Governor Lachlan Macquarie and a large accompanying party set out to view the country; the journey took nine days by coach from Parramatta and on arrival Macquarie's welcoming ceremony was observed by seven Wiradjuri. Macquarie wrote: "We found here three male natives and four boys of this newly discovered tract of country, who showed great surprise, mixed with no small degree of fear, at seeing so many strangers and carriages but to whom they soon appeared to be reconciled on being kindly spoken to, they were all clothed with Mantles made of the skins of o'possums which were neatly sewn together and the outside of the skins were carved in a remarkably neat manner. They appear to be inoffensive and cleanly in their persons." Three days Macquarie inaugurated the town of Bathurst continued to tour the surrounding country. In his journal, Macquarie writes of being visited by three male natives and that "to the best looking and stoutest of them I gave a piece of yellow cloth in exchange for his mantle, which he presented me with".
It has been theorised that this unknown Wiradjuri man may have been Windradyne, but this cannot be proven. It would be another eight years before he would become famous to the colony. In 1820, the population of Bathurst was only 114 due to Macquarie's slow and cautious approach to new settlement, his experience of the Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars of 1795–1816 may have made him hesitant to start a new conflict. It seems that the Wiradjuri were willing to tolerate this slow level of growth and peaceful relations were maintained during this period. In December 1821, Macquarie resigned due to undermining forces within his own government, his replacement was Governor Thomas Brisbane who had different views through which he began asserting his authority. Under Brisbane's hand settlement laws were changed leading to a flood of land grants across the Blue Mountains. An enormous influx of the British onto the Wiradjuri lands put great strain on traditional food sources, destroyed some of the Wiradjuri social and sacred sites.
In response, the Wiradjuri resistance was born, well aware that they had no chance against guns, they adopted a guerrilla-warfare approach in which attacks were made against outlying and undefended stations. Following Governor Brisbane's decision to open the flood gates to the west of the Blue Mountains, various attacks were soon made against the growing settlement. In 1822, Wiradjuri warriors attacked a station on the Cudgegong River in which they drove away the stockman, let the cattle out of the yard and killed several of the sheep. More attacks followed with the murder of scattered herds and speared cattle. Stockmen were intimidated and would not leave their huts to round up the cattle and bring them in without protection; the government centre at Swallow Creek was soon abandoned in fear of attack. In late 1823, Windradyne was captured for the first time; the Sydney Gazette described the situation in the following: Advices from Bathurst say that the natives have been troublesome in that country.
Numbers of cattle have been killed. In justification of their conduct, the natives urge that the white men have driven away all the kangaroos and opossums, the black men must now have beef!... The strength of these men is amazing. One of the chiefs of a desperate tribe, took six men to secure him and they had to break a musket over his body before he yielded, which he did at length with broken ribs... Saturday for his exploit
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars. Guerrilla groups are a type of violent non-state actor; the Spanish word "guerrilla" is the diminutive form of "guerra". The term became popular during the early-19th century Peninsular War, when the Spanish and Portuguese people rose against the Napoleonic troops and fought against a superior army using the guerrilla strategy. In correct Spanish usage, a person, a member of a "guerrilla" unit is a "guerrillero" if male, or a "guerrillera" if female; the term "guerrilla" was used in English as early as 1809 to refer to the fighters, to denote a group or band of such fighters. However, in most languages guerrilla still denotes the specific style of warfare; the use of the diminutive evokes the differences in number and scope between the guerrilla army and the formal, professional army of the state. Guerrilla warfare is a type of asymmetric warfare: competition between opponents of unequal strength.
It is a type of irregular warfare: that is, it aims not to defeat an enemy, but to win popular support and political influence, to the enemy's cost. Accordingly, guerrilla strategy aims to magnify the impact of a small, mobile force on a larger, more-cumbersome one. If successful, guerrillas weaken their enemy by attrition forcing them to withdraw. Tactically, guerrillas avoid confrontation with large units and formations of enemy troops, but seek and attack small groups of enemy personnel and resources to deplete the opposing force while minimizing their own losses; the guerrilla prizes mobility and surprise, organizing in small units and taking advantage of terrain, difficult for larger units to use. For example, Mao Zedong summarized basic guerrilla tactics at the beginning of the Chinese "Second Revolutionary Civil War" as:"The enemy advances, we retreat. At least one author credits the ancient Chinese work The Art of War with inspiring Mao's tactics. In the 20th century, other communist leaders, including North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh used and developed guerrilla warfare tactics, which provided a model for their use elsewhere, leading to the Cuban "foco" theory and the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan.
In addition to traditional military methods, guerrilla groups may rely on destroying infrastructure, using improvised explosive devices, for example. They also rely on logistical and political support from the local population and foreign backers, are embedded within it, many guerrilla groups are adept at public persuasion through propaganda. Many guerrilla movements today rely on children as combatants, porters, informants, in other roles, which has drawn international condemnation. There is no accepted definition of "terrorism", the term is used as a political tactic by belligerents to denounce opponents whose status as terrorists is disputed. Contrary to some terrorist groups, guerrillas work in open positions as armed units, try to hold and seize land, do not refrain from fighting enemy military force in battle and apply pressure to control or dominate territory and population. While the primary concern of guerrillas is the enemy's active military units, terrorists are concerned with non-military agents and target civilians.
Guerrilla forces principally fight in accordance with the law of war. In this sense, they respect the rights of innocent civilians by refraining from targeting them. According to the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies, terrorists do not limit their actions and terrorise civilians by putting fear in people's hearts and kill innocent foreigners in the country. Irregular warfare, based on elements characteristic of modern guerrilla warfare, has existed throughout the battles of many ancient civilizations; the growth of guerrilla warfare in the 20th century was inspired in part by theoretical works on guerrilla warfare, starting with the Manual de Guerra de Guerrillas by Matías Ramón Mella written in the 19th century and, more Mao Zedong's On Guerrilla Warfare, Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare, Lenin's text of the same name, all written after the successful revolutions carried by them in China and Russia, respectively. Those texts characterized the tactic of guerrilla warfare as, according to Che Guevara's text, being"used by the side, supported by a majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defense against oppression".
The Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu, in his The Art of War or 600 BC to 501 BC, was the earliest to propose the use of guerrilla warfare. This directly inspired the development of modern guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla tactics were employed by prehistoric tribal warriors against enemy tribes. Evidence of conventional warfare, on the other hand, did not emerge until 3100 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Since the Enlightenment, ideologies such as nationalism, liberalism and religious fundamentalism have played an important role in shaping insurgencies and guerrilla warfare; the Moroccan national hero Mohamed ben Abdelkrim el-Khattabi, along with his father, unified the Moroccan
In the years following British colonisation of Australia, Aboriginal trackers were enlisted by Europeans to assist them in exploring the Australian landscape. The trackers' excellent tracking skills were advantageous to settlers in finding food and water and locating missing persons, capturing bushrangers and violently'dispersing' other groups of Indigenous peoples; the first recorded deployment of Aboriginal trackers by Europeans in Australia was in 1791 when Watkin Tench utilised Eora men Colbee and Balloderry to find a way to the Hawkesbury River. In 1795, an aboriginal guide led Henry Hacking to the Cowpastures area where the lost First Fleet cattle were found. In 1802, Dharawal men Gogy, Budbury and Le Tonsure with Gandangara men Wooglemai and Bungin assisted Ensign Francis Barrallier in his explorations into the Blue Mountains. There are many other examples of explorers, military/paramilitary groups, naval missions, police utilising Aboriginal assistance in tracking down wanted persons.
For instance, in 1834, near Fremantle, Western Australia, two trackers named Mogo and Mollydobbin tracked a missing five-year-old boy for more than ten hours through rough Australian bush. Another notable event occurred in 1864 when Duff children Jane and Frank Duff, lost for nine days in Wimmera, were found by Aboriginal tracker Dick-a-Dick; when asked how he tracked, Mitamirri, a famous tracker of the early 20th century, said "I never bend down low, just walk slow round and round until I see more."In 1845 Edward Stone Parker the Assistant Protector of Aborigines based at the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate Station at Franklinford, wrote a letter to the Chief Protector reporting on the murder of'a native' at Joyce's Station. No witness to the murder could be found but footprints of five men were tracked by the Jajowurrong to open country south of Mount Macedon; the trackers there met with another man attached to the Loddon Protectorate Station, on his return from Melbourne. He told the trackers he had met with the group they were tracking and was able to give a description of them.
The New South Wales Police Force engaged Aboriginal trackers from 1850, attempting to secure Aboriginal trackers for each of the police districts. By 1867, 52 Aboriginal Trackers were in the employ of the police at a daily rate of 2s 6d. In that year, at the height of bushranger activity in the Goulburn Police District, three mounted Aboriginal trackers of the New South Wales Police Force were involved in the capture of the Clarke brothers at Jinden near Braidwood. Aboriginal tracker Sir Watkin Wynne, led the initial party of police from Fairfield under the command of Senior Constable Wright to their location at Jinden, he was injured during the capture and had an arm amputated. He was awarded £120 for his role in the capture. Two other trackers, who subsequently led other police to the scene, trackers George Emmott and Thomas, secured lesser awards of £7/10/0. Tracker George Emmott had received an award of £30 for the arrest of Pat Connell another member of the gang. Two members of the Queensland Native Mounted Police Force and Werannabe, assisted in the capture of Ned Kelly at Glenrowan, Victoria in 1880.
They had been promised £50 reward for Kelly's capture but descendants claimed the two were never paid. A number of Native Police organisations were established in Australia during the 19th Century employing armed and mounted Aboriginal trackers under white officers to carry out various duties, the foremost of these being punitive missions against Aboriginal peoples who resisted colonialisation. During the goldrush era, they were used to patrol goldfields and search for escaped prisoners, they were provided with uniforms, food rations and a dubious salary. In 1879 the services of a group of Queensland black police were requested to help track the Kelly gang which were on the run from the Victorian police, their use was agreed and a party of six'native' troopers, with a white officer reached Benalla about March 1879. In 1941, the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit was established to patrol the north Australia coastline for Japanese landings and infiltration, was composed of Aboriginal soldiers.
The 2/1st North Australia Observer Unit performed a similar role, though Aboriginal people were a minority in the unit, serving as labourers and trackers. In the present day Australian Army, the Regional Force Surveillance Units can be seen as a spiritual descendant of the tracker legacy. Aboriginal trackers within the Queensland police force wore yellow epaulets to denote their role. By 2012, only one tracker remained, Lama Lama elder Barry Port. Queensland police do not expect another tracker to replace Port. Charley Dick-a-Dick Jimmy Governor Jimmy James Tommy Windich Whyman McLean Australia The Last Trackers of the Outback The Tracker Rabbit-Proof Fence A Cry in the Dark One Night the Moon Black Tracker Walkabout The Black Tracker - Jack Davis
Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east, South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia's largest state, with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres, the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia's Sakha Republic; the state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority live in the south-west corner, 79 per cent of the population living in the Perth area, leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated. The first European visitor to Western Australia was the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog, who visited the Western Australian coast in 1616; the first European settlement of Western Australia occurred following the landing by Major Edmund Lockyer on 26 December 1826 of an expedition on behalf of the New South Wales colonial government.
He established a convict-supported military garrison at King George III Sound, at present-day Albany, on 21 January 1827 formally took possession of the western third of the continent for the British Crown. This was followed by the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829, including the site of the present-day capital, Perth. York was the first inland settlement in Western Australia. Situated 97 kilometres east of Perth, it was settled on 16 September 1831. Western Australia achieved responsible government in 1890 and federated with the other British colonies in Australia in 1901. Today, its economy relies on mining, agriculture and tourism; the state produces 46 per cent of Australia's exports. Western Australia is the second-largest iron ore producer in the world. Western Australia is bounded to the east by longitude 129°E, the meridian 129 degrees east of Greenwich, which defines the border with South Australia and the Northern Territory, bounded by the Indian Ocean to the west and north.
The International Hydrographic Organization designates the body of water south of the continent as part of the Indian Ocean. The total length of the state's eastern border is 1,862 km. There are 20,781 km including 7,892 km of island coastline; the total land area occupied by the state is 2.5 million km2. The bulk of Western Australia consists of the old Yilgarn craton and Pilbara craton which merged with the Deccan Plateau of India and the Karoo and Zimbabwe cratons of Southern Africa, in the Archean Eon to form Ur, one of the oldest supercontinents on Earth. In May 2017, evidence of the earliest known life on land may have been found in 3.48-billion-year-old geyserite and other related mineral deposits uncovered in the Pilbara craton. Because the only mountain-building since has been of the Stirling Range with the rifting from Antarctica, the land is eroded and ancient, with no part of the state above 1,245 metres AHD. Most of the state is a low plateau with an average elevation of about 400 metres low relief, no surface runoff.
This descends sharply to the coastal plains, in some cases forming a sharp escarpment. The extreme age of the landscape has meant that the soils are remarkably infertile and laterised. Soils derived from granitic bedrock contain an order of magnitude less available phosphorus and only half as much nitrogen as soils in comparable climates in other continents. Soils derived from extensive sandplains or ironstone are less fertile, nearly devoid of soluble phosphate and deficient in zinc, copper and sometimes potassium and calcium; the infertility of most of the soils has required heavy application by farmers of fertilizers. These have resulted in damage to bacterial populations; the grazing and use of hoofed mammals and heavy machinery through the years have resulted in compaction of soils and great damage to the fragile soils. Large-scale land clearing for agriculture has damaged habitats for native fauna; as a result, the South West region of the state has a higher concentration of rare, threatened or endangered flora and fauna than many areas of Australia, making it one of the world's biodiversity "hot spots".
Large areas of the state's wheatbelt region have problems with dryland salinity and the loss of fresh water. The southwest coastal area has a Mediterranean climate, it was heavily forested, including large stands of karri, one of the tallest trees in the world. This agricultural region is one of the nine most bio-diverse terrestrial habitats, with a higher proportion of endemic species than most other equivalent regions. Thanks to the offshore Leeuwin Current, the area is one of the top six regions for marine biodiversity and contains the most southerly coral reefs in the world. Average annual rainfall varies from 300 millimetres at the edge of the Wheatbelt region to 1,400 millimetres in the wettest areas near Northcliffe, but from November to March, evaporation exceeds rainfall, it is very dry. Plants are adapted to this as well as the extreme poverty of all soils; the central two-thirds of the state is sparsely inhabited. The only significant economic activity is mining. Annual rainfall averages less than 300 millimetres, most of which occurs in sporadic torrential falls related to cyclone events in summer.
An exception to this is