Perth, capital of Western Australia, sits where the Swan River meets the southwest coast. Sandy beaches line its suburbs, and the huge, riverside Kings Park and Botanic Garden on Mount Eliza offer sweeping views of the city.
The Perth Cultural Centre houses the state ballet and opera companies, and occupies its own central precinct, including a theatre, library and the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
As a result of Perth’s relative geographical isolation, it has never had the necessary conditions to develop significant manufacturing industries other than those serving the immediate needs of its residents, mining, agriculture and some specialised areas, such as, in recent times, niche shipbuilding and maintenance. It was simply cheaper to import all the needed manufactured goods from either the eastern states or overseas.
Industrial employment influenced the economic geography of Perth. After WWII, Perth experienced suburban expansion aided by high levels of car ownership. Workforce decentralisation and transport improvements made it possible for the establishment of small-scale manufacturing in the suburbs. Many firms took advantage of relatively cheap land to build spacious, single-story plants in suburban locations with plentiful parking, easy access and minimal traffic congestion. “The former close ties of manufacturing with near-central and/or rail-side locations were loosened.
Industrial estates such as Kwinana, Welshpool and Kewdale were post-war additions contributing to the growth of manufacturing south of the river. The establishment of the Kwinana industrial area was supported by standardisation of the east-west rail gauge linking Perth with eastern Australia.
Since the 1950s the area has been dominated by heavy industry, including an oil refinery, steel-rolling mill with a blast furnace, alumina refinery, power station and a nickel refinery. Another development, also linked with rail standardisation, was in 1968 when the Kewdale Freight Terminal was developed adjacent to the Welshpool industrial area, replacing the former Perth railway yards
With significant population growth post-WWII, employment growth occurred not in manufacturing but in retail and wholesale trade, business services, health, education, community and personal services and in public administration. Increasingly it was these services sectors, concentrated around the Perth metropolitan area, that provided jobs.