THE WESTERN Australian government has injected $8.3 million into development plans for Port of Albany’s historic pilot station.

The historic cottages housed Port of Albany marine pilots from as early as 1853 through to 1936.

Its importance to Western Australia’s first port was recognised through its inclusion on the State Register of Heritage Places in 2002.

The government now plans to restore the station and turn it into a “vibrant community precinct”, with early concepts including an interpretive centre, small café, port-themed play areas and open spaces.

“This $8.3 million revitalisation of Albany Pilot Station will preserve and celebrate the rich maritime and cultural history of the state’s oldest port, while delivering lasting economic value to the Great Southern region.” WA ports minister David Michale said.

“Ports are important contributors to the social fabric of our regional communities. The Port of Albany has a long and deep connection to its local community and this unique project will only see this continue for generations to come,” he said.

And Rebecca Stephens MLA said the project would ensure the restoration of what is “a unique cultural and maritime heritage asset” for Albany.

“This work will ensure the pilot cottages are preserved and maintained as a heritage site,” she said.

“The restored pilot cottages will offer a rare insight into what it was like to live and work in these buildings between 1853 to 1936.

“They are an important part of the rich maritime history of Albany and will be a valuable community asset.”

Work planned for the pilot station would also create additional community infrastructure for cultural tourism and an outdoor space for local community events. The precinct is also expected to include an information centre for cultural and ecotourism.