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A small slice of the past

a sign on the side of a boat next to a body of water

Before the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour was filled with ferries and punts plowing their way across the blue waters to join the north to the south of the city. There were private and public punts with them all providing a simple, small and spectacular journey. With the opening of the bridge and others, the punts soon started to disappear and they then faded into the history of Sydney.

But not all of them.

Commonly known to locals as the ‘Putney punt’ the Mortlake ferry began operating in 1925 and is the only remaining punt in the Sydney metropolitan area.

The service was established to serve the factory areas of Mortlake. The ferry opening pre-dated the nearby Ryde Bridge which opened in 1935, and it was one of several vehicular ferries operating across the Parramatta River at the time. You can either drive your car on or walk on and sit in the passenger area. Keep in mind that if you drive on, you are not allowed to leave your car. And the best thing is, the service is free!

The Mortlake Ferry is one of ten remaining vehicular cable ferries in New South Wales, and the only one still in use on Sydney Harbour or its tributaries. While carrying much less traffic than it has in the past, the ferry still operates daily and is protected by a heritage order by the National Trust of Australia.

The trip across Parramatta River only takes about 5mins. But about 10mins all up by the time the cars and passengers get on and off. Keep in mind that depending where the ferry is when you arrive to catch it, you may have to wait up to 10mins. Plus, the car ferry regularly has to wait a bit for the Parramatta Rivercat to go by.

IMAGE CREDIT: Parraparents

a boat on a body of water