Fremantle Stuff > Ewers

John K. Ewers 1971, The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council, with UWAP, rev. ed. [1st ed. 1948].

Chapter 14:
Fremantle Harbour and the Twentieth Century

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Before looking at Fremantle Harbour today, let us remind ourselves of the stages by which early port facilities developed at Fremantle. First, there was the small sea jetty and the small river jetty, with traffic between the two moving along Cliff Street. When the small south jetty was supplemented by the first long jetty and its later extensions, the position was not seriously changed, except that the coming of the railway line in 1881 meant some reduction in the river transport of goods to Perth in favour of rail. However, a quite active up-river traffic by barge continued for many years. The really significant change which O’Connor brought about was the development of a harbour within the river mouth. There the little Sultan, beflagged for the occasion, berthed in 1897, and there the Royal Mail steamers began to call, in 1900. From that time until the end of World War II the concentration of activity was within this Inner Harbour.

Early port facilities had been handled by various authorities until 1 January 1903, when the Fremantle Harbour Trust took over from the Commissioner of Railways. This stabilizing body established by special act of parliament consisted of five commissioners whom the government appointed triennially, one of them being appointed annually as chairman. 1 The Trust was charged with the control of the port and its facilities, and the maintenance and preservation of all property vested in it. Unlike other main port authorities in Australia, the Trust also acted as wharfinger for the port, employed all labour for the handling of cargo upon the wharves, and operated all port equipment. In addition, the Trust provided and controlled the pilots, maintained pilot and signal services, undertook the mooring and unmooring of all vessels, and was responsible for the buoyage and light systems of the port. Today, these responsibilities

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rest with the Fremantle Port Authority, established in November 1964.

Until fairly recently, most people have probably thought of Fremantle Harbour as that part where they have been accustomed to seeing vessels arrive and depart. But it consists also of an Outer Harbour covering an area of approximately 180 square miles, which is acquiring and probably in the future will have the greater significance of the two. Of course, people were aware of that part of the Outer Harbour just outside the moles, known as Gage Roads. Vessels entered or departed through it, or anchored there awaiting a berth. The public, too, passed through it to or from holidays to Rottnest Island or, if they were lucky, gazed shorewards from it when they left on an overseas trip. Gage Roads is about 8 by 5 miles, open to the north but otherwise enclosed by islands, reefs and the mainland.

Owen Anchorage, immediately south of it, had only two activities: the discharge of livestock at Robb Jetty for the near-by meatworks, and the discharge of explosives at Woodman Point. It was a place seldom thought of as part of the harbour proper.

Still further south was Cockburn Sound, bounded on the east and south by the mainland and on the west by Garden Island (6.5 miles long), from the northern and southern extremities of which extended protective reefs. It was barred to all except ships of shallow draught by the Success and Parmelia Banks. Early talk of establishing a Naval Base there led to certain preliminary works, including the partial construction of a number of groynes and the dredging of a channel through the sandbanks in World War I. The work was abandoned in 1920 and resumed during World War II to enable some naval vessels to use the anchorage. But in the main, Cockburn Sound was to most of us just an empty sheet of water, a place for amateur fishermen and yachtsmen, its shoreline from Coogee to Rockingham; Point Peron and Garden Island the playground of holiday-makers and picnickers. The announcement by the Prime Minister on 8 October 1969, foreshadowing the possible establishment of naval support facilities there has reawakened interest in the idea of a naval base, but that is a long term project. In the meantime, as we shall see, Cockburn Sound has been developed as the port of the growing Kwinana industrial complex.

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But it was the Inner Harbour on which most people's thoughts centred during the first fifty years of this century. It is entered by a channel 5,500 feet long and 450 feet wide at its mouth, widening to 800 feet, where it joins the harbour proper. Protecting in on the north is a mole, 4,835 feet long, and on the south another mole, 2,040 feet long. The Inner Basin, now covering an area of 201 acres of water, is a dredged area, 7,000 feet long, widening from 800 feet where it joins the Entrance Channel to 1,400 feet. The depth throughout the Entrance Channel and over the whole of the Inner Harbour basin is 36 feet (below datum).

In 1900 there were only three sheds at the eastern end of Victoria Quay, as the wharf on its southern side is called. Each was 240 feet long, which was considered commodious enough for the ships of that day. In 1904 the Harbour Trust constructed four more sheds, each 340 feet long. In the early stages there was comparatively little activity at North Quay. Over the years a total of ten sheds were built on Victoria Quay before a complete reconstruction of sheds and wharves began in the late 1920s. Originally, the wharves were wholly of timber, but this was in time replaced by concrete piles with a timber superstructure carrying a surface of bitumen at Victoria Quay and of concrete at North Quay. The cargo sheds on Victoria Quay have now been reduced from ten to seven, with an average length of 438 feet and an aggregate floor-space of 285,100 square feet. These sheds have easy access for loading for road or rail transport inland.

The North Quay was developed to cater for shipments of grain, flour, phosphates, sulphur, timber and coal. Originally wheat was shipped in bags, but in 1932 experimental shipments in bulk led to the gradual installation of bulk-handling equipment. This was first provided by Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd, and was used to an ever-increasing extent until the old method was almost entirely displaced. In March 1947 the State Public Works Department constructed orthodox shipping galleries connected to silos already built by the Australian Wheat Board during the war period. Galvanized iron structures with a bin storage of 2,000,000 bushels were erected by the commonwealth government during the war but, as we shall see, much of this equipment has since been modernized by far more capacious silos.

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With the advent of oil-burning vessels in 1921, Fremantle became equipped to bunker oil as well as coal. By 1947 the storage capacity for bunker oils at Fremantle was in the vicinity of 120,000 tons, and the maximum amount supplied to shipping in any one year to that date was 231,215 tons to 30 June 1946. Today three grades of oil-marine diesel, marine fuel, and medium marine fuel—are piped direct from the B.P. Refinery at Kwinana. This enables harbour storage to be reduced to approximately 60,000 tons. The maximum amount supplied to shipping in any one year was 572,494 tons to 30 June 1968. On the other hand, coal bunkering has shown a steady decline and in the following year, to 30 June 1969, for the first time no coal was bunkered there.

The Inner Basin is not by any standards a commodious harbour and its berthing facilities have many times been fully taxed. In 1924 when H.M. Ships Hood and Repulse were expected, many anticipated difficulties. Hood was 45,000 tons and 861 feet long, but both vessels were manoeuvred in midstream and berthed without incident. On Hood’s departure, only twenty minutes elapsed from the time she cast off her last mooring-line until she dropped the pilot in Gage Roads. For many years. Hood held the record for the largest vessel to enter the Inner Harbour, but this was eclipsed by H.M. Aircraft-Carrier Ark Royal of 57,000 tons as recently as August 1962. The record for the largest mercantile vessel to berth in the harbour was for many years held by the Empress of Britain, 42,348 tons and 733 feet long, which formed part of a convoy visiting Fremantle in May 1940. This, too, has been eclipsed by the S.S. Canberra, 45,270 tons, with a draught of 33 feet 9 inches, which first berthed in 1961 and has been a regular visitor since.

During World War II an 80-ton floating crane was provided by the commonwealth government as part of the programme of defence. However, the launching of the pontoon section from a site alongside the northern end of the railway bridge was not undertaken until after hostilities had ceased. Although it was no longer required for its original purpose, the commonwealth government proceeded with the erection of the crane section and the unit was completed by the principal contractors, the Structural Engineering Co. of W.A., Ltd, for load test on 1 December 1946. The crane was first brought into commission on 1 August 1947, when cases of machinery weighing

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up to 60 tons were lifted out of the Kaipaki and deposited on the North Quay for storage in No. 3 grain shed. The machinery consisted of electrical equipment for the new power house at South Fremantle.

A war-time addition was the 2,000-ton slipway at Arthur’s Head, completed in 1942. This was greatly in demand for the servicing of submarines of the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy and other craft which could be accommodated on it. Even after the arrival of the United States Navy floating-dock, capable of accommodating vessels up to 3,000 tons displacement, the slipway was continuously in use. Its capacity has since been increased to 2,750 tons, and two smaller slipways were added in 1957 and 1958, adjacent to the war-time construction.

The most serious fire in the history of the harbour broke out at 3 p.m. on 17 January 1945. Starting at No. 8 Berth, North Quay, it spread to the merchant vessel, Panamanian. Fortunately, the fire brigade of the United States Navy was available, and several metropolitan fire brigades as well as the Harbour Trust’s own volunteer fire brigade quickly responded to the alarm. The fire raged fiercely on the Panamanian and, spreading over the oil-film on the surface of the water, threatened several near-by vessels, including two United States Navy submarine depot ships and H.M.S. Maidstone. The depot ships were removed from the danger area and the Maidstone pulled into mid-stream.

By 6 p.m. the fire on the wharf was under control and all efforts were concentrated on the Panamanian, which began to list to port and finally broke her mooring-lines. However, tugs pushed her back to the wharf and within reach of the hoses. Owing to the danger of fuel tanks being likely to give way, the naval authorities ordered all warships to stand by ready to proceed to the Outer Harbour. The Harbour Master issued similar instructions to all merchant vessels. By daylight next morning the fire on the ship was under control and the risk of its total loss had passed, but not before damage estimated at £517,000 had been done.

During the war the Harbour Trust greatly improved the amenities available to port workers. These included a cafeteria on Victoria Quay with seating accommodation for 400 persons, and rest and smoking rooms in most of the sheds. On North Quay similar conditions

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were installed on a smaller scale. Electric systems provided boiling water at one end of most of the sheds on Victoria Quay and at two points on North Quay. This enabled round-the-clock workers to make tea during rest periods of all shifts. And it was round-the-clock work, especially after the entry of Japan into the war. From that time the harbour, once ablaze with lights, worked through the hours of darkness under strict black-out restrictions. Never before in its history had the Inner Harbour been forced to accommodate such an aggregate of shipping. Ships of all allied nationalities, ships of all sizes and for all purposes, came there during those fateful years, but there was none of the glamour usually associated with a busy port. The merchant vessels were a drab grey or streaked with camouflage, their companies’ colours painted over, and they had small cannon mounted where they could be most advantageously used. The naval vessels wore their usual battle dress of grey or camouflage. Often too, convoys of ships too large to enter lay outside, ships like Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Ile de France, Nieuw Amsterdam and Mauretania comprising one convoy in April 1941, with a gross tonnage of 280,384 tons.

No official document of the admiralty or of the United States government appears to have been issued respecting the use of any Western Australian harbour for war purposes, but those on the spot were aware of the great extent to which Fremantle operated as a base for submarine attacks on enemy shipping. It has been said to have been the largest submarine base in the southern hemisphere, but, as pointed out earlier, there are no statistics to prove this. Some idea of the great variety of war vessels victualled at H.M.A. Victualling Yards during these years is shown in Appendix 11.

With V.E. Day occurring on 9 May 1945, it was realized that the resources of the port would be strained to the limit in an effort to bring about the defeat of Japan. Fortunately, V.P. Day arrived little more than three months later, and with the departure of the United States Navy units very shortly afterwards, it was felt that the strain of war was at last lifted.

The resources of the harbour had never been so severely taxed. Improvements that were regarded as having high-priority were of necessity curtailed by shortage of material supplies in the early post-war years. Some work was done on Berths 1 and 2 at North

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Quay, extending them 300 feet in a westerly direction. Work was also begun extending the Woodman Point explosive jetty and the Owen Anchorage stock jetty. Then on 23 March 1949 Mr F. W. E. Tydeman, C.I.E., Consulting Engineer to the State Government for Ports and Harbours since 1946, released for publication a report on extensions to the Fremantle Harbour, both upstream and seawards. 2

Mr Tydeman, who had been a colonel in the Royal Engineers and who came with a fine record of service in Singapore, India, Burma and Malaya, had spent over two years studying the special problems of the harbour at Fremantle. His report proposed immediate and longer-term improvements to existing facilities at an estimated cost of £8,082,000, the latter to be completed by 1972. His plan for up-river extension involved the re-siting of the railway and traffic bridges to provide an additional 11 berths, with a target date of 1995, and at an estimated cost of £12,400,000. Seawards, he proposed a protected harbour north of the present harbour mouth to provide 39 berths, and another south of the present harbour mouth to provide 80 berths. No date was set for the completion of these, but their combined estimated cost was £47,181,000.

The Tydeman plan was in every way suited to the growing needs of a state that was to make unprecedented progress in the next twenty years. It probably would have been set in motion but, as we shall see later in this chapter, other developments in Cockburn Sound led to a different kind of thinking. However, Mr Tydeman was to play a highly important part in the immediate development of Fremantle Harbour. When Mr G. V. McCartney, Manager of the Harbour Trust from 1929, General Manager from 1946, and an employee since its inception in 1903, retired on 15 May 1950, Mr Tydeman was the next day appointed to succeed him. Unfortunately, Mr McCartney did not live long to enjoy his retirement. He died on 14 November the same year.

The new general manager lost no time in going to England where he secured the services of Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners as Consulting Engineers for the implementation of his plans for harbour extensions, but by 1953 indications that an oil refinery was to be established at Kwinana ruled out his proposed seaward extensions and instead necessitated the immediate deepening and widening of existing channels across the Success and Parmelia Banks. The Harbour

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Trust was not involved in the construction of jetties for the refinery as the oil company had undertaken to do this work itself under certain conditions which, with similar conditions applying later to other companies, were to have some unexpected effects on harbour finances. The up-river extensions, involving re-siting the two bridges, were deferred pending further investigations, and were subsequently in part abandoned.

Meanwhile, there was plenty to be done in the Inner Harbour itself. Mr Tydeman began an active campaign to mechanize the handling of general cargo. Much time had formerly been lost through man-handling, but within two years of his appointment the harbour equipment included 133 fork-lift trucks, 45 tow motors and 45 mobile cranes. These in turn necessitated a start being made on the provision of a commodious and up-to-date workshop for the maintenance of all mechanical equipment. Increased accommodation was essential because of the great variety of vessels, apart from the general commercial trade, including migrant ships which had then begun to arrive and which continued to do so in ever-increasing numbers. A start was made to extend North Quay in an easterly direction, but shortage of both labour and loan funds slowed the work down so that the new No. 10 Berth was not actually completed until 1959. This provided additional berthage of 653 feet. However, North Quay, hitherto equipped for handling bulk cargoes only, had in the meantime been adapted to handle general cargo as well, with new transit sheds, roads, railways, paved areas. Custom fences and ancillary services.

The year 1954 had conferred a unique honour upon Fremantle Harbour when, for six days. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh were visiting Western Australia. An epidemic of poliomyelitis made it desirable for them to live on board the Royal Yacht, Gothic, instead of at Government House as planned. This not only enabled the people of Fremantle to see the royal couple frequently while driving to and from the capital, but also provided colourful and moving scenes on their departure. After music by Service bands and a children’s choir drawn from Fremantle schools, the last farewell was given by His Excellency, Sir William Slim, Governor-General of Australia, and Lady Slim. Then the Gothic sailed out between the moles accompanied by a picturesque flotilla of small craft.

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From 1955 activities in the Outer Harbour began to play a significant part in the over-all tonnage of shipping arriving at and departing from the port of Fremantle. The channel through Success and Parmelia Banks was officially declared open on 11 January of that year by the Hon. J. T. Tonkin, Deputy-Premier and Minister administering the Fremantle Harbour Trust Act. Its width was then 400 feet and its depth 34 feet, but the contract allowed for an increase to 500 feet and 38 feet, at datum, respectively. There was also a steel-rolling mill about to be erected near the refinery and while the Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd were to build the necessary jetty, it was the Trust’s responsibility to dredge access channels and swinging basins and to provide marking buoys and navigation lights. This Outer Harbour activity also necessitated the erection of a new signal station on Cantonment Hill at an increased elevation so that it had visual observation of all vessels proceeding through the channels. To this was added radar equipment with an effective range of 40 miles. From the opening of the B.P. Oil Refinery in 1955, oil for bunkering was piped to the Inner Harbour direct, resulting in a reduction of oil fuel tankers unloading direct, a reduction that with time meant almost a complete cessation of that practice. The oil refinery is exempt from wharfage dues. The steelrolling mill, which later became a fully integrated steelworks connected with the standard gauge railway, pays concessional rates on inward cargo, but is exempt from wharfage on outgoing cargoes.

This aggravated a state of affairs that was already embarrassing the Harbour Trust because there was also a general policy imposed by the government by which practically all normal exports from the Inner Harbour had for many years been exempt from wharfage dues. Thus in 1959 we find the commissioners making an official report to the government on the matter:

Out of a total Port Trade of 6,695,836 tons, only 1,367,382 tons of cargo were subject to the payment of wharfage, either at full or concessional rates. In accordance with Government policy the balance of 5,328,454 tons was exempted from such charges, the principal components of this balance being 4,533,143 tons of oil imported and exported over the Oil Refinery jetties and 761,886 tons of exports of primary and secondary industry commodities.

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Imports continue to contribute the major portion of wharfage revenue, and as has been stated in previous Annual Reports, if this policy, with which the Commissioners do not agree, is to continue, the Trust must increasingly depend upon diminishing import trade for its essential wharfage revenue, and saturation point has been reached in so far as the levying of wharfage on imports is concerned. 8

The commissioners were of the firm opinion that, ‘in accord with the policy of all Australian Port Authorities, all cargoes, whether import or export, should contribute commensurately towards the cost of establishing, maintaining and operating the Port and its services.’4 Indeed, from 1953 until 1964, the Harbour Trust’s reports show very occasional net surpluses and more frequently net deficits. Finally, in 1965, after annual reminders from the commissioners, the government agreed to introduce wharfage charges on grain, other products of the soil and locally manufactured goods exported through the port. Shortly the Alumina Refinery of Alcoa of Australia (W.A.) N.L. was to be added to the Outer Harbour. This was granted concessional rates on both inward and outward cargoes, and when later a fertilizer works was mooted near by, the commissioners insisted on constructing its jetties and that cargoes handled there should be subject to wharfage.

Just before and during World War II, the gross tonnage of shipping using the harbour fluctuated around four, five and six million tons. The cargo tonnage then handled at no time exceeded 2,000,000, its maximum over this period being 1,729,861 tons in 1945, the year the war ended. Immediate post-war years showed an increase and in 1951 the cargo tons handled exceeded 3 million tons for the first time. The real turning point came in 1955, the year in which the Outer Harbour really began to operate on a large scale with the opening of the oil refinery. Next year the gross registered tonnage was 11,480,111 and the cargo tonnage 6,091,267. In 1968, the commissioners pointed out with pride that for the first time the cargo tonnage handled exceeded 10 million. All records were broken for the year ending 30 June 1970, with a gross registered tonnage of 17,673,497, the total of cargo handled reaching 12,536,323 tons.*

* For a comprehensive picture of the Fremantle Harbour’s shipping and cargo handling activities from 30 June 1937 to the present time, see Appendix 12.

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But the income of the Fremantle Port Authority did not benefit proportionately. If this increased cargo had been handled in the Inner Harbour, assuming that it could have been, much of it would have paid full wharfage dues instead of the concessional rates or total exemptions already mentioned. The way in which the inequitable wharfage charges have operated on the wharfage income of the port is clearly shown in the following breakdown of cargo trade from 1962-70 and its relation to wharfage received. For ease of reference, income is shown in dollars throughout.

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The year 1966 [marked with an asterisk in the foregoing table], was the first full year when the introduction of wharfage on some additional items was effective. From that date the wharfage revenue begins to look a little more robust and the relative percentages are better balanced. But there still remains an extraordinary tonnage of cargo which is totally exempt from wharfage.

However, while the commissioners were having headaches over this aspect of harbour finance, they continued an active policy of

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development. In 1960 the first cargoes of bauxite and pyritic cinders were exported, the former a pilot shipment to Tasmania and the latter to Japan, and this led to plans for additional facilities on North Quay for general bulk handling. By 1964 two portable conveyors had been installed, each capable of 550 tons per hour, and at Berths Nos. 4 and 5 there were four 7^-ton grabbing cranes for the rapid unloading of bulk cargoes such as phosphate rock, coal, sugar, etc. Fremantle had become mechanically the best equipped port in Australia, with 26 electric quay cranes, 2 floating cranes operated by steam, 32 diesel or petrol electric mobile cranes, 133 fork-lift trucks, 52 tow motors, and 348 cargo floats and trailers. Work on a new grain terminal of vertical cement cell storage began in 1962 and was completed in 1964. It had a capacity of 4,000,000 bushels and was able to load by bulk conveyor 1,600 tons per hour. Behind North Quay a new network of roads was constructed, including the Port Beach Road to Cottesloe, opened for use in November 1960, and linked with a new wharf exit behind No. 4 Berth. This may in time connect with West Coast Highway which could ultimately extend perhaps as far north as Moore River, and possibly beyond.

On Victoria Quay the first stage of a new passenger terminal at ‘F’ Shed was begun in anticipation of the 40-50,000 ton P. & O. and Orient liners promised for the England-Australia run about 1961. When this date was put forward work was accelerated so that it was opened on 12 December 1960, by the Premier, the Hon. David Brand, M.L.A. (now Sir David). Eleven days later the first of these new, large liners, S.S. Oriana (41,923 tons) berthed alongside. Work began immediately on the second stage with similar facilities for ‘G’ Shed and was completed in May 1962. These are the most up-to-date passenger terminals in the southern hemisphere, 1,300 feet long, with the upper floor for passengers and visitors connected directly by a covered way to the ships’ deck, and the ground floor for cargo and general shipping facilities. The upper floor is reached by escalators and every amenity is provided. Very often two large liners are accommodated simultaneously and the terminal is a scene of great animation. One cannot help being reminded of the many years when people welcoming or farewelling overseas ships crowded the

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open wharf in all weathers, when it was wet, seeking what shelter they could find in the lee of the adjoining cargo sheds. The new terminals were greatly appreciated by the many visitors who came to Western Australia for the Commonwealth Games held in Perth from 23 November to 1 December 1962.

The building occupied by the Fremantle Harbour Trust in Cliff Street, on the harbour side of the railway line, had been in use since 1904 and had long been inadequate for the administration of the rapidly expanding port. Plans were drawn up for a new multistorey building and construction began in March 1962 after demolition of the old building. The new building was officially opened by the Premier, David Brand, M.L.A., on 5 March 1965. 5 Towering nine storeys above ground level and with a basement below the ground floor, it is one of the most imposing buildings in the city. Surmounting it is a new signal station replacing the old one on Cantonment Hill and commanding full visual view of the whole port of Fremantle, from Cockburn Sound to Gage Roads, an area of 180 square miles. Equipped with radar, it is, to quote the Premier, ‘a nerve centre . . . which can efficiently handle whatever the future may bring’.

The future, as we have noted earlier in describing the Tydeman Report, had envisaged re-siting the rail and traffic bridges to allow for up-river extensions, and elaborate Outer Harbour development. The latter had taken its own turn with developments in Cockburn Sound, but the former was not entirely ruled out until the government decided only the rail bridge would be moved further eastwards. When work on this began in 1962, the Harbour Trust made preliminary surveys for the provision of 5 new berths. The bridge opened for traffic late in 1964, by which time some of the dredging of the additional area had been completed. A small-craft haven at the eastern end of Victoria Quay was in full use by 30 June 1965, and on the north side preliminary earthworks and drainage begun on a site later to be occupied by Berths Nos. 11 and 12. As the first container ships from overseas were expected to arrive during 1968 work on a container berth (No. 12) was given priority, and a W.A. engineering firm secured the contract to construct a Portainer crane with a capacity of 45 tons. The container berth was opened by the

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Premier on 29 March 1969, and arrangements were in hand for a second container berth at No. 11, North Quay. The first container ship to arrive there was the Encounter Bay on 28 March 1969 on her maiden voyage from the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, there were further developments in the Outer Harbour. The decision of Alcoa of Australia (W.A.) N.L. to erect an alumina refinery had made necessary the dredging of the Calista Channel. The first shipment of alumina was despatched on 20 February 1964 on the Lake Sorrell. All these channels were subsequently deepened—the Success and Parmelia to 45 feet, the Stirling and Calista to 38 feet, and on 13 May 1968 a new bulk cargo jetty was opened a little south of the Oil Refinery by the Hon. Ross Hutchinson, D.F.C., M.L.A. This had a bulk unloader of 500 tons an hour capacity and another has since been added. As we have seen, acting on the principle that ‘the facilities of the Port should be owned and controlled by the Port Authority’, the commissioners had insisted on undertaking the whole of this work. To what extent they will be able to maintain this policy may depend on many factors, not the least of which will be the extent to which the south-western portion of Cockburn Sound passes under the jurisdiction of the commonwealth for the establishment of naval support facilities or a full naval base. This will require the construction of a road traffic link from Point Peron to Garden Island, which is commonwealth property, the state government having sold it to the commonwealth in 1915 for £116,000! The road link will be a causeway with two bridges over openings, one of 2,000 feet and the other of 1,000 feet in width. 6 It is to be hoped that these openings will allay the fears of conservationists who view the industrialization of the area with genuine concern.

On 20 August 1965 Mr F. W. E. Tydeman, C.I.E., who had been General Manager since 1950, retired, and was later made a C.M.G. in recognition of his services. During his term of office he had been responsible for great developments, including the re-designing of North Quay, the Passenger Terminal, an overhaul of cargo handling to the point of complete mechanization, and the new Administrative Building. In addition, Mr Tydeman instituted a great deal of forward planning for the future development of the port. He was

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succeeded by Mr H. C. Rudderham who had been a member of the staff of the Authority since 1926. Another retirement that year was that of Captain F. H. B. Humble, the Harbour Master, who was succeeded by Captain A. B. Brackenridge.

Perhaps this is the place to record a retirement of quite a different kind. After more than sixty years as the port’s pilot boat, the Lady Forrest was withdrawn from service in June 1967. A number of former pilots and crew members made a final trip in her round the Inner Harbour. Then she was lifted from the water for the last time by the 80-ton floating crane, and guests added their signatures to the last entry in the launch’s log-book. Restored to resemble her original lines, she has been handed over to the City of Fremantle to find an honoured place in the new maritime museum. Her place has been taken by the Lady Gairdner, named after the wife of a former governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner.

This review of the developments of the Port of Fremantle shows that there have been many which not even the most optimistic could have foreseen when C. Y. O’Connor declared that the impossible could be achieved, the river bar blasted, and a harbour made in the river mouth. Originally planned at a cost of £800,000, the capital expenditure on the Harbour to 30 June 1906 had been £1,377,541. At 30 June 1969, equipped for all the needs of modem sea transport and with a capital expenditure of $42,458,140, it is the largest bunker port in Australia and, in terms of cargo, passengers and bunkering, the third largest.

From its inception in 1903, the Fremantle Harbour Trust (the Fremantle Port Authority since November 1964) has shown vision and enterprise. It has always been a forward-looking body. In March 1966 a report was drawn up, envisaging the doubling of port trade in the next ten years, and dealing with the developments in the Outer Harbour which might be expected in that time. It was adopted in principle by the government and forwarded to departmental committees for study. In August 1968 it was decided to engage a postgraduate research student of the University of Western Australia to investigate and report on ‘The Equilibrium of the Cockburn Sound Natural Environment’. This is expected to provide the Port Authority with valuable data in the planning and development of the Outer Harbour.

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References

1 2 Edw. VII, No. 17, The Fremantle Harbour Trust Act, 1902.

2 F. W. E. Tydeman, Report on the Port of Fremantle, 3 vols (Perth: Govt. Printer 1948).

3 Port of Fremantle, Western Australia, 60th Annual Report for year ending 30th June 1959, p. 8.

4 G.F., R.S.A. 30 June 1963, F.T.H.

5 West Australian, 6 March 1964.

6 West Australian, 5 Nov. 1970.

Go to Chapter 15: The Kwinana Industrial Complex.


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