Wheatbelt (Western Australia)
The Wheatbelt is one of nine regions of Western Australia defined as administrative areas for the state's regional development, and a vernacular term for the area converted to agriculture during colonisation.[a] 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).
The region has 43 local government authorities, with an estimated population of 75,000 residents. The Wheatbelt accounts for approximately three per cent of Western Australia's population.
The area, once a diverse ecosystem, where clearing began in the 1890s with the removal of plant species such as eucalypt woodlands and mallee, is now home to around 11% of Australia's critically endangered plants.
The Wheatbelt encompasses a range of ecosystems and, as a result, there are a range of industries operating in the region.[clarification needed]
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 Sandplains and Mallee regions.
Industry and economy
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.
Six main highways radiating out from Perth serve the Wheatbelt: 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 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 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 Coast, comprising:
- 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 regions:
- The eastern Wheatbelt is separated into Wheatbelt North East, Wheatbelt Central and The Open Wheatbelt.
- "THE WHEAT BELT". The West Australian. Perth. 13 October 1920. p. 7. Retrieved 11 September 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
- "The New Agricultural Commissioner for Western Australia's Wheat Belt". Bunbury Herald. WA. 27 April 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 11 September 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Government of Western Australia Department of Regional Development" (PDF). Wheatbelt: a region in profile 2014. 2014.
- Silcock, Jen (1 September 2016). "Hanging on: What does it mean to be Red Hot?: Australia's most imperilled plants and their recovery". Wildlife Australia. 53 (3).
- http://www.wheatbelt.wa.gov.au/ Wheatbelt Development Commission
- Main Roads Western Australia (28 February 2011). "Wheatbelt Network" (Map). Intergrated Service Arrangement. 1:2,040,816. Government of Western Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Main Roads Western Australia (13 August 2013). Wheatbelt North Region map (PDF) (Map). 1:721,154. Version 1.0. Government of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Main Roads Western Australia (13 August 2013). Wheatbelt South Region map (PDF) (Map). 1:590,551. Version 1.0. Government of Western Australia. 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.
- "Wheatbelt and Wave Rock". Australia's Golden Outback. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- http://www.wheatbelttourism.com The Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre is based in Merredin
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