Bayswater’s Transport Story

Swan River

The Swan River provided the first, fastest, cheapest and most comfortable means of transport between the Swan River Colony’s early settlements (Fremantle, Perth and Guildford).  The first recorded regular ferry service was in 1831 between Guildford and Fremantle – it was a once a month service by whale boat.

Winds to sail by were rare and the majority of the journey was enables by rowing.  In 1842 a twice weekly service to Guildford and Upper Swan started. (from Oar to Diesel on the Swan – p.54-55).

Walking on rough tracks through the bush was the main way most people got around in the early days and Bayswater, being a very scattered settlement, consisted of numerous bush tracks.

Walking and cycling long distances was an accepted part of daily life and it was nothing, for examples, for workers to walk or cycle to and from the Maylands Peninsular brickworks.

Early Bayswater relied upon people living where they worked or near train station has seen functionality dominated often removing amenity. In 2000, the City of Bayswater identified transport and planning policy needed to be revised.  In 2013, Transit Orientated Development (TOD) utilises mixed use and urban density around transit stations.  In 2018, Bayswater’s district planning policy and styles, alongside state government transport decisions continue to have impact, possibly more so today with major infrastructure projects like Metronet.


Guildford Road was the first major artery linking Perth and Guildford and it existed as early as the 1830s. Later, it would consist of two rows of jarrah blocks.

Horse Transport

Horse transport and horse drawn delivery carts dominated Bayswater until the advent of the motor age.  At various times there was a mobile butcher’s shop, or “cutting cart”, usually with Eucalyptus leaves hanging down the sides to ward off the flies; Bayswater’s Chinese market gardener Suey Sang also home delivered fruit and vegetables and doctors, from outside the district, also visited patients on horseback.


The invention of safety bicycles (gears and two wheels of the same size) enabled many people access to personal transport, reliable and sometimes faster than horse or camels.

In the WA Goldfields of the late 1890s the arrival of Percy Armstrong introduced Rover Cycling setting up cycling courier outlets to support postal and telegraph services.  Bicycles remained very popular, with WA having the highest number of bikes in Australia (on a per capita basis, according to ABS sources).   In the 1930s to 1940s the popularity of bikes grew with the influx of workers from the Midland Workshops and semi-skilled migrants, by the 1950s Les Waugh opened his bicycle shop between Bayswater and Maylands.  Les was often seen road testing his bikes along the many local dirt roads. A bicycle boom followed this period in WA producing any local brands like Malvern Star, The Rover and Speedwell.

The Motor Car

The advent of the motor age did little to change the almost empty streets of Bayswater.  However the mid-1920s saw a coach services from Bayswater and Beechboro Road to Perth and there was a local taxi service located at the training station.  Taxi passengers were charged 2/6 to be taken from the station to anywhere in Bayswater.

Commercial use of vehicles occurred in early times in the Bayswater Community our Chinese market gardeners provided the early form of “house to house” with Suey Sang’s market garden delivery. Cutting carts provided mobile butchers, Mr Wrights fish round in the late 1890s and Rosher’s milko deliveries. Campbell’s Store in Whatley Crescent delivered to outlining farming areas in 1900s and Bert Wright’s in King William Street with grocery lines and Emberson’s Butchers.

Vehicles changed and shaped our community in the 1960s commercial delivery of Bob Marshals Dry Cleaning following the war supported local rise in commercialism. Bayswater also had trams and bus services.

May, Catherine, Changes They’ve Seen, City of Bayswater 2013


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