Adelaide was Australia’s third busiest port in 1950. It could berth 41 ships at 6 kilometres of wharves. It was a time of economic growth, technological change and belief in the modern world. A roll-on / roll-off terminal was built in 1960 and a bulk-handling terminal for grain followed in 1963. The first container terminal opened at Outer Harbor in 1972. They would transform the Port.
In 1966 the Department of Marine and Harbors replaced the Harbors Board that had managed South Australian ports since 1913. They ran the port—leased berths to ships, provided pilots, maintained lights and beacons, dredged the river, surveyed vessels and accredited skippers and engineers. They oversaw this maritime kingdom from a brutalist reinforced concrete office tower on the corner of St Vincent Street and Ocean Steamers Road. Completed in 1978, by 1986 some 213 staff worked on five floors of offices and another 236 worked on the Department’s wharves and vessels.
But the concrete tower would outlive the Department. In 1974 the South Australian Ports Corporation replaced Marine and Harbors and in 2001 it was sold to a new private company, Flinders Ports.
"For many years the monolithic Harbors Board building has stood empty and cast its long shadow over the Port. It has been a weighty concrete reminder of a dying Port economy. Here we have documented the adverse effects of vandalism on an abandoned space, in the knowledge that the building will soon be renovated and have a bright new future.." Danica Gacesa McLean