More than 1,200 people gathered in the grounds of the Western Australian Museum – Albany on Sunday 12 December as Community Services Minister Robyn McSweeney opened a tribute to migrants who came to Australia through the port over the past 180 years.
Minister McSweeney said that people had travelled from far and wide to attend the launch of the Albany Welcome Walls.
The Welcome Walls project began in Fremantle in 2004 as part of Western Australia's 175th anniversary celebrations as a tribute recognising the contribution, commitment and, often, sheer endurance of those who came to make this State their home.
The Welcome Walls overlooks Princess Royal Harbour, the Amity Precinct and the Albany Port and links to the Kinjarling Trail. It was designed by local Albany firm H and H Architects, incorporating a boardwalk stretching from the Museum’s Residency Building over the water of the Amity Precinct.
Ms McSweeney said the Welcome Walls represented a sense of arrival in the town and the first permanent arrivals and the project was strongly supported by the City of Albany.
“The design of the Albany Welcome Walls is symbolic of the journey many migrants made when they disembarked in Albany and the boardwalk includes timbers from the original Town Jetty, the same jetty the migrants would have walked along as they made their way onto Australian soil,” she said.
“Coloured banding on the top of each wall provide a link to the funnel colours of the passenger steamship lines that were prevalent during the peak period of immigration through the Albany port.
The Albany Welcome Walls are inscribed with about 500 names as well as the passenger ship and year of arrival.
Interpretation panels outlining the history of migration and the links to the Kinjarling Trail lead from the Museum to the boardwalk Welcome Walls.
Ms McSweeney said tens of thousands came in the hope of a fresh start and a new life. Some were lured by gold while others were sent here as convicts and many more were displaced by the ravages of the two largest wars the world had ever experienced.
“The initial project was intended as a one-off that would display about 2,000 inscriptions at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle, however the immense public response has lead to an addition two stages of the project in Fremantle and the walls here in Albany,” she said.
“We now have striking outdoor galleries both here and in Fremantle, paying tribute to migrants from many lands and cultures who have helped make this nation what it is today,” Ms McSweeney said.
Mr Alec Coles, Chief Executive Officer of the Western Australian Museum
Elder Vernice Gillies (Welcome to Country)
His Worship the Mayor Milton Evans, JP, the City of Albany Mayor
Hon Robyn McSweeney MLC, Minister for Child Protection; Community Services; Seniors and Volunteering; Women's Interests; Youth