history Coode St jetty

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Coode Street Jetty South Perth 

Statement of Significance

The Coode Street Jetty has aesthetic, historic, social and representative cultural heritage significance. The jetty has been part of the South Perth foreshore for over a century and adds aesthetic value to the general landscape of the foreshore. It is representative of many jetties that were important factors of river transport to the early settlers of Perth, and to the feeling of isolation the South Perth residents experienced prior to the building of the Narrows in 1959. The jetty has considerable historic heritage value owing to the contribution it made towards the development of the South Perth area particularly to the Chinese market gardeners who lived close to the jetty. The Coode Street Jetty is valued by the wider Perth community as it contributes a sense of place with its link between the city of Perth and South Perth and therefore to the places such as the James Mitchell Park and the South Perth foreshore.

Physical Description

The Coode Street Jetty is situated at the northern end of Coode Street in South Perth. Built in 1990 the Coode Street Jetty is in front of the Boatshed Café and Restaurant. The beach to the west of the jetty is a landing place for windsurfers that have been hired out from this spot for over two decades. The short pile driven wooden jetty has a landing for the ferries.


Even before the Coode Street Jetty was built, the Coode Street foreshore was used as a landing point for local South Perth people.

It was the scene of arrival for visiting pastors and teachers to the Wesley Chapel and Church which was built in Coode Street. 

Erected in 1896, the Coode Street Jetty has been an important transport link to the city of Perth. On a map of South Perth by Real Estate Agents Owtram and Purkiss in 1902, Coode Street Jetty was one of three jetties on the south side of Perth Water, the other two jetties were at Queen Street and Mends Street. 

Owing to the importance of boats as transport in the early 1900s, boat building was a common local industry along the South Perth foreshore. Amongst the boat building residents of South Perth was one A.S. Pritchard, who had a boat shed and residence in Swan Terrace. Pritchard also hired out boats from the Coode Street Jetty. 

A ferry service between Perth and Coode Street was first operated by W.F Tubbs; however, it was irregular. Local residents, Rowland Pennington and Fred Bailey, formed a public company, the River Ferry Company, to try and bring some regularity to the system. 

They put two sailing boats into action, the Mary Queen and the Gladys, but the venture was a failure. Rowland Pennington struggled to run the ferry service alongside his successful dairy and farm and it soon closed. More successful was Pennington’s kiosk. Commuters using the Coode Street ferry service in the early 1900s were provided with refreshments from an iron clad kiosk set up by the Penningtons on their property on the corner of Coode Street and Suburban Road (now Mill Point Road). Each time a ferry docked, the kiosk was opened to provide such things as locally grown bananas split lengthways and filled with fresh cream (from their dairy). 

These treats sold for threepence. In 1906, Jack Olsen and Claes (Harry) Sutton developed a thriving ferrying business on the Swan River. 

It was noted that they provided an excellent service in the South Perth district including regular ferries to Coode Street. The fleet that ran under Sutton’s operation (Olsen died in 1906) included the well known ‘Val’ boats named after Olsen and Sutton’s Scandinavian links. Some of the boats included Valfreda, Valthera, Valdemar and Valkyrie I and II. The Valkyrie II was a double-decked vessel capable of carrying 245 passengers. In order to provide the regular service to Coode Street, a suitable landing place had to be provided, as reported to Council in 1903. Further improvements to this landing were made in 1907. A 1916 timetable for Valdemar and Valdura showed a very regular service seven days a week with costs for gentleman at 21/- per quarter with ladies being charged almost half the cost at 12/6 per quarter. The Coode Street community mourned the loss of Harry Sutton when he died in 1922 of pneumonia. The Sutton and Olsen families continued the ferry service until 1935. 

The families sold to Nat Lappin who formed the Swan River Ferries Company and continued the good service that had been provided by Sutton and Olsen for over three decades. The government-operated Mends Street service, however, still raised many complaints. The Coode Street Jetty also has strong links with the history of the long tenancy of the Chinese market gardeners who occupied land on what is now the Sir James Mitchell Park reserve. The Chinese market gardeners had lived and worked on the South Perth Foreshore since the 1880s. Weekly, they packed their fresh produce on carts to take them across the Causeway to the James Street Markets in North Perth. However, the Coode Street ferry service once a week was well patronized by the Chinese men. 

On Saturday nights the hard working gardeners would go by ferry across to Perth and have a night out on the town. They returned by the 11.30pm ferry and were back working by 6.00am the following morning. Unfortunately this way of life ended with the eviction of the Chinese from their land in the early 1950s based on health concerns – a period of history remembered with some shame by local residents. Owing to the fall in numbers of passengers, the private ferry service to Coode Street eventually passed into the State transport system. It has, since the 1960s, been a controversial topic ‘Should the ferries run or not?’ For a while the ferry service between Barrack Street and Coode Street (via Mends Street) was suspended, and despite the rebuild of the jetty in 1990, services were still not reinstated. 

Six months after taking over the contract to operate the ferries in Perth Water (c1997), Captain Cook Cruises began to operate a limited ferry service to the Coode Street Jetty. In 2003, 6-7 ferries a day run from Monday to Friday but there is no service provided on the weekends. Captain Cook Cruises operates the service with two boats the Shelley Taylor-Smith and the Countess. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure have jurisdiction over the operation of the ferries and maintenance of the jetty.

The Sutton and Olsen families continued to run the service until 1935 when they sold the business to Nat Lappin, who formed the Swan River Ferries Company.

The private ferry service was eventually merged into the State Transport system and the jetty was rebuilt in 1990.


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