Given the size of Western Australia and the scale of distances which separate it from the rest of Australia and the world, not
to mention the distances separating regions within the State from each other, transportation systems have been fundamental to the growth and development of Australia's western third. The Europeans who came to the Swan River
Colony in the nineteenth century brought with them horses and bullocks for transporting people and goods. As the colony expanded into more arid areas in the late nineteenth century camels, handled by
Afghani cameleers, became essential in supplying the booming gold mining industry.
Until the opening of the Trans-Australian Railway in 1917, shipping remained the only form of transport that linked Western Australia to
the rest of the continent or the outside world. Western Australia's railway network grew during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to service newly opened farming districts, linking the
Goldfields with the colony's capital and connecting major regional centres in the South West. In Perth and Fremantle rail services for commuters saw the expansion and development of outlying suburbs.
During the twentieth century tram and bus networks were also built to provide transport for the growing city population. After the Second World War
planning for private transport became just as important as public transport with an incredible boom in the numbers of private automobiles and motorcycles on the roads.
The affluence of post-war Australia, and the increased affordability of cars, resulted in an expanded road and freeway system.
The freedom of individuals to travel wherever and whenever they choose has been a development unique to the second half of the
twentieth century. This has been as true of automotive transport as of transport by air. While the first commercial passenger and freight flights were made in Western Australia as early as the 1920s, it was
not until well after the Second World War, with the introduction of large, long-haul jet aircraft, that air travel became affordable to a large proportion of the populace.
During the 1970s more and more Western Australians were able to travel to and from international destinations
thanks to the growing airline passenger industry. The international isolation, and the isolation of Western Australia from the rest of the nation has been significantly reduced thanks to the air transport system.