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Developing trade and port histories: Jetties

Introduction

Neville Collins in his book The jetties of South Australia: past and present lists 111 jetties in South Australia. A jetty (or pier) can be made of iron, steel, cement, timber or a combination of these. It is built out from the land, over the water, whether salt or fresh.

The majority of jetties today in South Australia are used for recreational purposes and serve a vital role in tourism. However most of the jetties were not built with recreation in mind, but were a vital component in the development of South Australian shipping, particularly the coastal ketch trade.

Before the advent of regular road transport, cargo was carried by sea, and jetties were built to facilitate the loading and unloading of cargo from the ships. The first jetties were built south of Adelaide and by 1856 there were nine jetties in existence, all on the Fleurieu Peninsula with the exception of Milang, Goolwa and Robe. Yorke Peninsula jetties followed during the 1860s. A jetty was built at Port Lincoln in 1857, but the majority of jetties on Eyre Peninsula were built much later, predominantly in the 1880s and 1890s. Both Port Wakefield and Wallaroo wharves and jetties were built because of the copper mines at Kapunda and Burra. Port Germein for many years had the longest jetty in South Australia and this was built largely for the wheat trade. It was only surpassed in length by the jetty at Port Bonython, 30 kilometres north east of Whyalla. Built in 1982 it extends 2.4 kilometres into Spencer Gulf and is used by natural gas tankers.

Several of the metropolitan jetties quickly outgrew their commercial need, and catered to the tourist trade with aquariums and tea rooms or bathing facilities.

The continuance of jetties is in many instances seen as vital to the ongoing prosperity and vitality of towns, and their communities fight fiercely for their retention.

Management of jetties

This is an involved situation in South Australia with some jetties being privately constructed and owned, some managed by corporations or local councils, and a few by the government. 

Captain Thomas Lipson was appointed as Naval Officer and Harbourmaster for the new colony of South Australia, in 1836. In 1854 the Port Adelaide Harbor Trust was established. Captain Bloomfield Douglas replaced Lipson at this time and in 1860 the Marine Board was established to replace the Harbor Trust, with wider powers. An act of parliament defined its powers, and this in turn was superseded in 1881.

The Marine Board under the 1881 Act included the management of all ports and harbours, and management of wharves and jetties among other matters. In the Marine Board Report of 1901-02, there were 56 jetties, 15 of which were managed by local councils, 30 under the control of the Board, seven operated by the Railways Department and four were privately owned.  Three of the latter were taken over by the Marine Board in 1909. The Harbors Act (Number 1149 of 1913) allowed the Harbors Board to take over control of all wharves and jetties. In 1966 the Harbors Board was abolished and the Department of Marine and Harbors established in its place.

Ceduna jetty
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Emu Bay Jetty
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Glenelg Jetty
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Glenelg jetty 1850
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Glenelg jetty 1875
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Hog Bay Jetty, Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island
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Jetty and surrounding buildings at Fowlers Bay
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Jetty, Port Germein
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Largs Bay jetty
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New jetty at Cape Thevenard, South Australia
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Old town jetty at Port Lincoln
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Port Germein jetty
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