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River Transport

In 1833 jetty facilities in Perth left a lot to be desired with goods being manhandled from boats further out in the River through the mud to the flats in front of Perth:

"The present practice of landing passengers pickaback, the boatman being obliged to wade through mud for the extent of thirty or forty yards, is hazardous and unpleasant ….. those who have suffered as we have done, by two or three falls in the mud, we are convinced will as strenuously urge some improvement." [48]

In 1842 a town jetty was opened at the bottom of William Street and the area from William to Mill Streets along Bazaar Terrace became Perth’s port. Early markets were held around the jetties and Bazaar Terrace became a bustling trading centre before stores were opened in St Georges Terrace, William and Hay streets.

"It was a real bazaar, such as we see in India and the East and was the first shopping mart that Perth knew … merchandise from boats on the river was spread out here on the river’s bank, while people … walked between the bales and peered into boxes and bargained for preserves for the inside of the body and fine silks and satins and cottons for the outside of the body." [49]

William St Jetty, 1907. Battye Library [004049D]

The area grew quickly with the establishment of boat building, bulk stores, shipping company offices, boat sheds, workshops as well as customs facilities. Land was leased from the government with businesses such the Swan Shipping Company and Messrs Lawrence Bros boat builders reclaiming river to create space for their facilities.

The River lightering trade declined with the growth in the number of cars in Perth and disappeared completely in the late 1930s. Plan for Construction of Riverside Drive, 1937. West Australian 18 June 1937 p. 18 The timber and iron buildings occupied by boat builders, boat shed owners and warehouse operators were demolished in 1937 and the area reclaimed to make way for beautification in the form of a Riverside Drive from the Causeway to Mill Street.

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Page last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2010 by Nick Cowie Asset ID 13046
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