Brief History During the late 1800's shipping became an increasing problem in
Fremantle as there was no harbour. Ships had to anchor offshore due to a rocky bar blocking the
mouth of the Swan River and many preferred to head to the safely sheltered harbour in Albany. From Albany,
smaller ships would then be used to transport passengers and cargo to Perth . However, with Fremantle becoming an important whaling centre and the discovery of gold
in the 1890's, it became clear that there was an urgent need for a harbour near the Capital City.In 1892
C.Y. O'Connor (Engineer-in-Chief) was appointed by John Forrest (W.A.'s first Premier) to build
the Fremantle Harbour to provide safe anchorage for large ships. It was his first major public works project.
He proposed that the limestone bar and sand shoals at the mouth of the Swan River be removed by blasting, that two stone moles be built out into the ocean and that
the entrance be dredged to make it deeper for ships to enter.
The project also required land reclamation to allow for the construction of quays and
O'Connor had many critics of his proposal, many believing it was too expensive and impractical.
However in 1892 construction commenced and in May 1897 the first ship, S.S. Sultan, steered by Lady Forrest,
steamed into the Fremantle Harbour.
Fremantle soon became the colony's busiest port taking the honour away
from the Albany Harbour that had previously been Western Australia's main port.
During World War II the Fremantle Harbour played an important role in accommodating Australian and
Allied naval vessels. It became the biggest submarine base in the Southern hemisphere from 1942-1945 with over 170
submarines using the port.
Today, the Fremantle Port still remains true to O'Connor's original design and has an economic
output valued at $780 million annually.
Important Links To Fremantle Harbour
Fremantle Port Authority
Albany Port Authority