Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Freshwater

Sydney's First Fleet Ferries were under threat of replacement. Dating from the mid 1980s and built in their home state of New South Wales, they have been saved and will continue in operation.

Alexander is a First Fleet ferry and they are named after the ships that arrived in Australia as the first fleet of ships from Portsmouth to Sydney Cove. But tourists and Sydney day trippers don't care too much for the First Fleet Ferries. Not their business. Nevertheless, the state government has decided to upgrade them and the annual Australia Day race between the First Fleet ferries on Sydney Harbour will continue.

While government owned, Sydney Ferries is operated by the French giant Transdev. Transdev in Melbourne is on the nose with the public and certainly with the state government. It has not acquitted itself well as a private bus operator in Melbourne.

On I think Easter Monday, Sydney Ferries carried the most passengers it ever has. The weather was fine and warm and it was a public holiday. The busiest ferry would have been the ferry to Manly, an obligatory trip for us when we visit Sydney and for many. Even local people like to make the trip to Manly by ferry.

The Freshwater class of ferries makes the trip from Circular Quay to Manly and what  a great ferry they are. As a commuter and tourist ferry, it is a large beast, capable of carrying 1200 people and often doing so. It has air conditioning in the large interior seating area and various open decks at the side and fore and aft on a couple of decks. While once the staff could be a bit rough around the edges, they seem quite professional now. Harbour ferries are part of Sydney's public transport system, so it not expensive to use. They are fast, comfortable and being double ended, efficient. Summer days, the Manly Ferry can have figures of transporting 45,000 people a day.

It will be a sad day when Transdev retires them next year (really? Transdev is paying for the new ferries?) and they are replaced with a slightly faster but smaller modern ferry operating to a more frequent schedule. Don't you love how governments when contracting out operations can blame or lay responsibility to the private company, when in this case, I am sure the NSW taxpayers will be paying for the new ferries.

Meanwhile in a Scandinavian country, ferries are being upgraded to being powered by electric motors, with batteries charged while they are moored at ferry terminals.

Why not do that with the Freshwater Class of ferry?

For whatever reason and odd as it seems, the New South Wales' motoring organisation had set up a rival smaller but faster ferry service to Manly. Very strange indeed. But local Manly people like the faster service.

I've put this photo up before, and I like the photo, showing a smaller First Fleet ferry and the larger Manly Freshwater class. Save the Manly Freshwater class ferry, please. We like 'em big and we know their times. Speed is not everything and certainly not for tourists.


This post is a bit boring, so I will chuck in a few more Sydney ferry photos. The First Fleet ferry,  Scarborough. 


First Fleet ferry,  Friendship.


I remain puzzled as to why a motoring organisation club runs a ferry service in competition with Harbour City Ferries.

23 comments:

  1. I enjoyed making use of the ferries when I was in Sydney.

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    1. Yes Marie, they are terrific and useful public transport too.

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  2. Not boring at all.
    I don't think I have ever been on a Sydney ferry, something I will try and rectify on an upcoming trip.
    Public transport? Sigh. Big, big sigh. Our woes continue.

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    1. EC, a visit to the big big smoke pending. Exciting. Your government is not softening on the bus route changes?

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  3. Times they are a-changing!

    Have a good week, Andrew. :)

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    1. Lee, they are but are they for the better?

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  4. Your photo of the smaller First Fleet ferry and the larger Manly Freshwater class is telling. As a tourist I was not interested in speed, as you noted, and just wanted to enjoy and explore Sydney Harbour. I love Melbourne, but we don't have a proper ferry service.

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    1. Hels, we don't have a proper ferry service and I am not sure why. Brisbane has ferries on its river.

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  5. Not far from me in Canada there a lovely ferry crossing the Kootenay lake and in state it spelled kootenai. And I love riding the ferry up there. It use to be fresh water ferry was free but the salt water ferry there was charge. Don't know if it still the same.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, surely more to do with other factors than whether it was salt water or not?

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  6. The difference between the fast ferry and the regular one? 12 minutes.

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    1. James, thanks. 24 minutes for a commuter's daily round trip. I can see the attraction but I haven't looked at the price difference. We went for free on the ferry as we had already reached senior's Opal weekly cap.

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  7. My wife (who visits Sydney regularly) absolutely adores those ferries; she considers them as much a part of Sydney as The Opera House, or The Coathanger Bridge.

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    1. Cro, I agree. They are so much part of Sydney.

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  8. I like all the ferries, first fleet and new. I don't remember the name of the one I was on doing a lap of the harbor.

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    1. River, was that around ten years ago? It seems an age. Goodness, how long have we known each other? I would guess it was private ferry tour operator, which we have used for a lunch cruise and it was good.

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    2. Just a regular ferry, I took time off once the convention was over and took a ride around the harbor before going home the next day. Close to ten years ago.

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  9. I suppose some people want to get across the water quickly and the remainder faster :) as long as they get safely to the other side is all I would be concerned about.

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    1. Margaret, it is important as it is about public transport and tourism. Safety is always paramount now, as we hear. Both tourism and public transport are so important in Sydney.

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  10. Not boring at all Andrew, in fact I find out many many interesting facts that I might not have ordinarily from your blog. I had no idea the Sydney ferries were operated by a French company, pourquoi I wonder?

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    1. Thanks Grace. Transdev operate buses in Sydney and Melbourne and I think used to operate our trams too. It is a giant world wide company.

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  11. I'm nuts about ferries. Many ferries here from the large island itself to the small outer islands and also to the mainland, big honkers. Something about them, like trains, away from the hustle for a while, a micro-world.

    PS Manly, yeah I like that tho ferries are shes surely? Otherwise bad luck, etc.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, we met someone on our South African tour last year from your area and she was in charge of one of the ferries, not as captain, but looking after passengers and in charge of some ferry staff. Yes, ferries, well all water craft I think, are shes.

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