Two important developments in the 1960s led to a decline in the use of Australian ports and changed migrant journeys to Australia forever.
The advent of container shipping eliminated the need for cargo nets and dozens of stevedores to load and unload the ships. Moreover, cargo shipping now required purpose-built vessels and specialised cranes that many of the older piers and wharves could not accommodate.
These changes also affected migrant ships that had previously relied on cargo to finance their return voyages.
The second technological development was a growing preference for air travel. By the 1970s under-utilised migrant ships were finding a new life as cruise liners.
Australia's last migrant ship, the Australis, at Station Pier, Port Melbourne, 1977.
Source: National Archives of Australia
The end of a chapter
The last government assisted migrant ship to come to Australia was the Australis in 1977. Its departure ended a long and important chapter in Australian migration.