Albany was the main port for Western Australia until the opening of the Port of Fremantle in 1900. In the decades following the first settlement, Albany became an important arrival point for both settlers and migrants to Western Australia, with over 40,000 people landing in Albany between 1839 and 1925.
In the 1840s, sealers, then whalers from France and increasingly America, operated from the port as did increasing number of traders. The 1851 decision to make Albany the Western Australian bunkering depot for mail steamers was a great stimulus to the port town. The steamer depots saw new employment opportunities and an influx of settlers that took the town population to 700 in the 1850s.
From 1885, the materials and labour required for the construction of the Western Australian Government railway between Albany and Beverley stimulated port trade and saw a new wave of immigrants arriving in the district. It was time of expansion and prosperity for the town. The population of the town increased from 1,200 in 1888 to 2,665 in 1891 and 3,594 in 1901. Harbour improvements were required to deal with the increasing number and size of vessels and a deepwater jetty was constructed and used from 1889.
The rush to the goldfields around Southern Cross, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie saw another wave of migration and new prosperity as passengers and goods for the goldfields came through the port.
Read on about the Migration in the 1900s >>