Australian port congestion continues into 2023

March 3, 2023

Australian port congestion continues into 2023

It’s certainly not news that ports globally have been struggling with congestion since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic for a multitude of reasons, most recently Australian port congestion is a result of the large amount of cargo arriving in Australia with seed contamination. Most terminals country wide are quickly filling with quarantined cargo.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen have provided the following update on the worst congested ports:

“Melbourne – Terminal congestion continues to be a challenge. Major Quarantine issues for all vessels coming. (largely seasonal / seed related) Current delays are approximately 15-20 days.

Port Kembla – Both terminal yards and berths are more congested than usual due to an increasing number of vessels calling the port. The increase of both import and export volumes are also impacting quarantine holds. Current vessel days have been approximately 5-7 days.

Brisbane – Currently experiencing regular delays in Brisbane, due to berth congestion. Some vessels are also facing Quarantine-related delays during discharge, but also impacts non-affected vessels berthing availability. Current delays are approximately 10 or more days for vessels carry contaminated cargo. Unaffected vessels delays are between 2-6 days.

Fremantle – Quarantine related delays on vessel discharging is currently at least 10 days, though vessels without contaminated cargo are facing slightly reduced delays. 

Auckland – Regular delays due to berth congestion, consistently seeing 3-5 days delayed depending on vessel bunching. Inclement weather and recent earthquake and cyclones have resulted in longer than usual delays”


Satellite map of australia with green ship icons around the coast showing Australian port congestion.
Live marine traffic for cargo and unspecified ships as of 9:45am 1st of March 2023. Source:


Additionally, the new car market is contributing heavily to the increased number of RORO vessels waiting to offload cargo. Automotive news platform Drive is describing the situation as a “quarantine traffic jam on a scale never seen before in Australia”. 

New cars are arriving to Australia in bigger batches than ever before, overwhelming most Australian ports, and, in the middle of the 2022-23 BMSB season.

This increase in biosecurity threats amongst the importation of new cars is likely because these new vehicles are spending longer in holding areas between the car factory and the port they’re due to depart from. In some cases these cars are waiting in grass fields for weeks at a time, giving pests ample opportunity to “hitch a ride”. Even when in regular holding areas, the cars are being stored for so long that the wind can easily carry seeds and pest to the vehicles. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are the biggest concern due to their ability to move around during a voyage.

Experts comment that the Australian economy is struggling to find enough workers to offload cars in the first place, and providers of biosecurity and quarantine cleaning are short-staffed and overworked.

Freightplus is committed to working with our customers during this Australian port congestion where we can, however, these delays are out of our hands.

To stay up-to-date with the latest Australian port updates and other industry news and head to the Freightplus Newsroom or get in contact with the Freightplus team.


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