Wheatbelt (Western Australia)
The wheatbelt region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It partially surrounds the Perth metropolitan area, extending north from Perth to the Mid West region, and east to the Goldfields-Esperance region. It is bordered to the south by the South West and Great Southern regions, and to the west by the Indian Ocean, the Perth metropolitan area, and the Peel region. Altogether, it has an area of 154,862 square kilometres (59,793 sq mi) (including islands), and a population of about 72,000 people. The population is widely distributed, with only about 16,000 people living in the main towns of Northam, Narrogin, Merredin and Moora.
The wheatbelt encompasses a range of ecosystems and, as a result, there are a range of industries operating in the region.
In the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia there are a number of subdivisions such as the Avon Wheatbelt (AVW), and a further breakdown of Avon Wheatbelt P1 (AW1) and Avon Wheatbelt P2 (AW2), Jarrah Forest, Geraldton Sandplain and Mallee regions.
Near the coast, the region receives relatively high rainfall and mild temperatures, and its 150 kilometres (93 mi) of coastline is a significant tourist area. In contrast, the eastern fringe is very arid, and is mainly used for pastoral farming of sheep. Mining of gold, nickel and iron ore also occurs. The remainder of the region is highly suited to agriculture, and is the source of nearly two thirds of the state's wheat production, half of its wool production, and the majority of its lamb and mutton, oranges, honey, cut flowers and a range of other agricultural and pastoral products.
With a range of climate and economic changes in the region, considerable effort is made by government at all levels to cope with the decline of some communities, and create opportunities for ventures that keep population in the region.
The wheatbelt once had an extensive railway system, which transported bulk wheat grain. It has been reduced in part, while the main lines are being supported.
There are six main highways through the wheatbelt that radiate out from Perth: Brand Highway (north-west to ), Great Northern Highway (north-east to ), Great Eastern Highway (east to ), Great Southern Highway (east to , then south to ), Brookton Highway (east-south-east to ), and Albany Highway (south-east to ). A network of main roads connects towns within the wheatbelt to each other, the highways, and neighbouring regions, with local roads providing additional links and access to smaller townsites. Roads are often named after the towns they connect.
Local government areas
The following list is those shires listed in the wheatbelt region as designated by the wheatbelt Development Commission. Some shires in adjoining regions are traditionally considered part of the Wheatbelt - there are shires in the Great Southern, Goldfields-Esperance and Mid West regions that are dominantly grain growing areas. All but one of the wheatbelt region's local government areas are shires:
- Bruce Rock
- Lake Grace
- Mount Marshall
- Narrogin (Shire)
- Narrogin (Town)
- Victoria Plains
- West Arthur
Sub-regions within the wheatbelt
There are numerous subdivisions of the wheatbelt, and in most cases the separation is by local government areas.
Wheatbelt Development Commission
The Wheatbelt Development Commission (WDC) breaks the region up into five sub-regions with five offices:
- Central Midlands, comprising:
- Central East
- Wheatbelt South
In some schemes such as one of the Western Australian tourism regions, all of the wheatbelt is allocated to the larger Australia's Golden Outback as the Wheatbelt and Wave Rock.
However the shires within the wheatbelt are in tourist terms further divided into internal wheatbelt regions:
- The eastern wheatbelt is separated into Wheatbelt North East, Wheatbelt Central and The Open Wheatbelt.
- http://www.wheatbelt.wa.gov.au/ Wheatbelt Development Commission
- "Wheatbelt Network" (PDF). Integrated Service Arrangement. Main Roads Western Australia. 28 February 2011. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Wheatbelt North Region map (PDF) (PDF). Version 1.0. Cartography by Main Roads Western Australia. Main Roads Western Australia. 13 August 2013. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Wheatbelt South Region map (PDF) (PDF). Version 1.0. Cartography by Main Roads Western Australia. Main Roads Western Australia. 13 August 2013. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- http://wheatbelt.wa.gov.au/Maps - the most helpful maps being the "Wheatbelt Development Commission Map"
- "Wheatbelt Development Commission". Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- http://www.australiasgoldenoutback.com Australias Golden Outback
- http://www.wheatbelttourism.com The Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre is based in Merredin
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