The image above is the final installment (at least for now) in The Past Present’s Millers Point Series. The image, from a postcard dated circa 1935, shows the famous wharves at Walsh Bay which have been so much a part of Sydney’s maritime history in the 20th century.
The wharves of today though are of course very different, full of restaurants and up market housing, a far cry from the bustling, working wharves of the past. As the 20th century progressed, the size of the ships and the amount of cargo which they could carry increased, but the number of ships docking at the wharves was in decline. Work for the men working in Walsh Bay and Millers Point became sporadic.
The 1930s and the great depression were a time of great hardship for the men working in Walsh Bay. The number of men looking for work was far greater than the number who would find it on any given day. With the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge came the prospect of suburban living on the North Shore of the harbour and this made Millers Point less attractive as a place to call home. As the 20th century wore on, the population of Millers Point were aging along with the wharves and by 1975 only 48 children were enrolled in the local primary school, Fort Street. By the 1970s the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority had grand plans to redevelop the Rocks area, including ‘West Rocks’ as Millers Point was often referred to by locals. However, community pressure and a slowing of the economy resulted in the saving of much of the area and more recently, the once busy working wharves and the houses of the wharf workers have become much sought after by wealthy investors and homeowners.