Distance: 327 km Approx. Travel Time: 4 hours
"It is certainly the worst place I or anyone else ever saw. No place to send a ship of this size... Any man who would come or send a ship a second time is a damned ass."
Captain D.B. Shaw of the American barque Saranac.
The battering that their vessels received trying to offload stores on Long Jetty caused many shipping companies to refuse to berth in the Swan River Colony. The jetty that once extended a kilometre into the sea from Bathers Beach in Fremantle was exposed to the south - west winds. The shipping lines preferred Albany's natural harbour in the south. John Coode, the most distinguished harbour engineer of the nineteenth century, was commissioned to examine the feasibility of turning the mouth of the Swan River into a harbour. Coode ruled out building a port in the river mouth. He thought it would continually silt up. Lateral sand drift was the problem. The Great Southern towns of Brookton, Pingelly, Narrogin, Wagin, Katanning , and several others, owe their existence to Mr Coode. These towns came into being along the Great Southern Railway. The railway that was built largely because transporting goods up from the port in Albany was the next best alternative at the time.
Less than a decade later, a 49-year-old Irish born engineer from New Zealand, by the name of Charles Yelverton O'Connor took his measurements and satisfied himself that there would be no lateral sand drift in the riverbed.
Today, after more than a century of continuous use, Fremantle Harbour is perhaps CY O'Connor's most outstanding achievement.