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History of the Port of Townsville

Born out of the pastoral industries’ need to have close and obstacle free access to a harbour, Port of Townsville first started trading in 1864 and has been the economic cornerstone of the North Queensland region ever since.

Today, the Port of Townsville operates 8 berths and is the largest container and automotive port in Northern Australia. It supports around 8,000 jobs and services a population of nearly 800,000 people.

When the mineral reserves around Mt Isa were first tapped in the late 1920’s, Townsville Port became the single export port for all production. In 1929, the first bulk oil trade began and then in the 1930’s, zinc concentrate exports kicked off.

During both world wars, the Port of Townsville was a critically important Defence asset, moving more than 1 million tonnes of war supplies and some 300,000 tonnes of fuel.

In 1959 the massive sugar terminal was completed, then rebuilt in 1963 when a fire destroyed it.

Reclamation of additional 170 acres in 1967 provided space for the expansion of oil facilities and an LPG terminal. Then in 1969, North Queensland got its first roll on/roll off terminal for containers and motor vehicles.

In 1974 giant container crane with a lifting capacity of 55 tonnes was installed, and in 1987 the Townsville Port Authority was established. By this time more than 95% of port trade was oil, sugar and minerals.

In 1997 BHP constructed Berth 11, Townsville Port’s first outer berth, to handle mineral concentrates from the Cannington mine.

In 2003 a new 400,000 tonne sugar shed was completed, and in 2013 the upgraded $85 million Berth 10 facility and new cruise ship terminal, and the $217 million Port Access Road opened for business.