With ancestry spanning over a century in the Midwest, local man Jason Dutton is proud to see the roots of Geraldton’s maritime history firmly entwined in his family tree.
A self-confessed history buff, Jason can trace his Geraldton lineage all the way back to 1860.
There to witness the early stages of the region’s maritime, fishing and crayfish industries, the Dutton family also played a major part in establishing the beginnings of Geraldton Port.
Three generations of the Dutton line have worked on the berths, beginning with Jason’s grandfather.
“My grandfather Hugh Dutton (MM) was in shipping between his combat service in both world wars,” he said.
“After he got back from WW1 he worked as a Lumper, which is what Stevedores were called in those days, and loaded ships from the old Railway Jetty before the Port was even built.
“He then started working at the new Port when the first 2 berths were constructed in the 1930s and later berth 3, where he worked continuously until the outbreak of WW2.
“He then served in WW2 and was killed in action in 1942 while fighting in New Guinea.”
Hugh’s son, Alan Dutton, followed in his father’s footsteps and began his career at the Port in 1950.
From humble beginnings as an apprentice mechanic, Alan went on to become one of the inaugural Founding Board Members of the Geraldton Port Authority.
He worked at the Port for four decades, with 20 of those years spent on the Board.
During this time Alan also went on to complete his national service - remaining in the armed forces for two years.
But such was his love for his home town, Alan returned soon after to resume life in Geraldton, despite being offered a promotion to become a second lieutenant.
Jason said his father’s true love had always been the Port.
“My father Alan was a great man who cared very much for other people, his community and his beloved Port,” he said.
“It was the hard work and vision of people like my dad and grandfather that laid the incredibly strong foundations that remain today.”
Jason continued this legacy when in 2013 he began working in one of the Port’s Operational Crews at the Bulk Handling Facility.
In his spare time, Jason continued to delve in to his genealogy and began tracing the origins of the other side of his family.
This is when Jason discovered an even greater tie to the region’s aquaculture industry.
“It turns out my great grandfather Carl Newman was one of the pioneer rock lobster fisherman off the Geraldton coast and the Southern Group of the Abrolhos islands,” he said.
Jason also discovered further links to the armed forces – uncovering the tale of how his great grandfather would ferry sailors to and from war ships during shore leave.
“My great grandfather was the last man to ferry the sailors from the HMAS Sydney II when she came to Geraldton,” he said.
“It was only a short time later that she was sunk while in battle with the HSK Kormoran off Shark Bay.
“To this day this story is told when they do tours of the HMAS Sydney II memorial site.”