The Flinders Bay Jetty is located at Barrack Point in Augusta near the site of the first settlers’ landing point in 1830. The Flinders Bay Jetty (also known as the Barrack Point Jetty) is one of two jetties built by M.C. Davies, to export timbers around the world.
Barracks Point was originally a port of call for the whaling ships which frequented the area and in 1855 was officially proclaimed a port. Timber was first exported from Augusta in 1876 and in 1882 M.C. Davies began construction of two large jetties at Barrack Point and Hamelin Bay.
A clever man, M.C. Davies had his eyes on the timber belt between Cape Hamelin and Augusta several years earlier. In 1879 he obtained a 14-year lease for 70 thousand acres of land in the district. Three years later (1882) he was granted a further lease of 46 thousand acres for 42 years. Within a year the Cooldarup (Kudarup) mill was operating a few kilometres from Augusta. Considered quite modern in its time, the 25 horsepower mill had an output of 9,000 super feet per day.
The jetties were a necessity as the timber mills at Cooldarup (Kudarup) and Karridale were producing large quantities of cut Karri timbers and there was a great demand for hardwoods worldwide. These timbers would be was used to construct railways in India, mines in South Africa, wharves in Hong Kong and streets in London.
Both jetties were connected by a railway line. In fact, Davies built over 65kms of railway lines to facilitate both the jetties and the four timber mills in the area. Each jetty had railway lines running the length, making it easier for timbers to be loaded onto the ships berthed alongside.
M.C. Davies was also responsible for the construction of jetties at Fremantle and Carnarvon in 1886, Eucla Jetty in 1887 and the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in 1895.
The Hamelin Bay Jetty was used mainly in the summer months as it was protected from the south-easterly winds which blew into Flinders Bay. Flinders Bay became the winter port as it was protected from the westerlies which made Hamelin Bay treacherous in the winter months.
The timber industry went into a sudden decline in the early 1900s and the jetties both slowly fell into disrepair. The railway line was eventually taken over in the 1920s by the Western Australian Government Railways to become part of a branch railway from Busselton to Flinders Bay. The line was used mainly for the dairy industry in the region however the rails were light, the line was poorly constructed and the terrain steep making it a very, very slow form of transport. The system relied on the MSA Garrat Steam Engine to haul the loads over the steep and difficult gradients.
The branch was closed in 1957.
All That Remains
The site of the Flinders Bay Jetty is marked by a stone plinth along Albany Terrace. This is where the railway met the jetty embankment. A small path leads you down to the bay where all that remains of the jetty are a few timber posts which are slowly being claimed by the Southern Ocean. As you head down to the jetty don’t be fooled by the iron winch near the plinth it is not related to the jetty at all, it was used on the slipway of one of the boat sheds on the beach.
As you wander through the ruins it is hard to believe that this was once the focal point for commerce and transport in the area. You may also discover when wandering through the rocks, evidence of a smaller unnamed jetty.