Monday, August 20, 2007

The Grower Ferry

Before The Rip Bridge was bunged up in 1974, getting from one side of Brisbane Water to the other involved either rowing yerself across or rattling along for bloody miles in yer horse and cart, up round Gosford and down the other side. Clearly this was a Bad Thing and the obvious solution was ferries.

Kincumber Growers Ferry

This is the old Kin-Gro ferry that used to run on Brisbane Water.

( "Kincumber Growers Ferry" it says across the top and on either side of the doorway: "Empire Bay" and "Davistown".)

In 1921 local farmers decided to get some ferries to get their produce up to the Gosford market and across to the trains. To do this they formed the Kincumber Growers’ Co-operative Company Ltd.

The Kincumber was their first ferry. She was built up at Cockle Creek and launched in 1921. They expanded their fleet over the next few years with the Avoca, the Grower and the Kin-Gro.

They did a run covering Davistown, Empire Bay, Woy Woy, Bensville, Kincumber South and Kincumber Creek. They finished up in 1944 after 23 years of service. Their ferries, especially the Grower and the Kin-Gro are fondly remembered by many Dear Old Things.

Some old ferry stops of Brisbane Water

The pink dots are the some old ferry stops. I was going to put numbers on them instead but I forgot. I named them on the annotated version.

There's a good half dozen more old stops. Which'll be added when I've identified the bastards.

As yet unidentified stops:

Pine Tree

(I know where Pine Avenue is, but not Pine Tree.)

If you know where these stops were, let me know in the comments below.

In the past the ferries have carried gossip, dead bodies to Gosford for burying, newspapers, the post (mail), people off to the trains and the Thursday market at Gosford, the stuff they were going to buy there and them coming back again with the stuff they bought.

Gossip and people are still carried, commuter services in the mornings and afternoons hook locals up to the Sydney trains at Woy Woy, lunchers are carried to the Davo and back, tourists ferried around to ooh and ahh at the beauty that is Brisbane Water.

We already looked at raising of the wreck of the Lady Kendall at Koolewong in May. She was a ketch built in Tassie (Tasmania) in 1903. She worked there carrying logs to Hobart then as a fishing boat in Bass Strait. She won in her class in the Hobart Regatta in the 1940s and '50s then went to Melbourne in 1966 to work as a ferry then came to Brisbane Water in 1985 to work for Starship Cruises at Gosford. (More)

Old ferryman's house & old ferry at Woy Woy Bay

The house is reputed to be that of the former Phegans Bay ferryman and the upturned hull in front of the house that of the old Phegans Bay ferry.

We glanced at the old Phegans Bay run and will come back to that some time.

Ferry routes of Brisbane Water

Dotted lines are current ferry routes.

Blue line - Palm Beach Ferry (Palm Beach Ferries, Sydney)
Pink line - Codock II AKA Cockatoo Ferry (Central Coast Ferries, Empire Bay)
Red line - Saratoga Ferry (Central Coast Ferries)
Brown line - Lady Kendall II (Starship Cruises, Gosford)

Saratoga, Codock II & Crystal Spirit

The short orange line in the lower part of the map is The Rip Bridge. Before the bridge was bunged up in 1974, by boat was the only short way across Brisbane Water.

The cross is St Joseph's at Kincumber South. The Pioneer Ferry Service started from there in 1905, run by the penguins, taking visitors and patrons to the orphanage there. Those ferries included the San Jose (pronounced locally as San Joase), Southern Cross and the Stella Maris.

Brisbane Water's buzzed with ferries over the last 180-odd years and is still buzzing with them. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Row row row your post

Before the ferries carried the post, it was carried by a bloke in a rowboat. For 26 years William Settree, known as Scotchie, met the Woy Woy mail train and rowed the post back to Davistown. He died in 1916 and his sons kept up the run until the ferries took it over in 1921. How's that for service?

1 comment:

Spike said...


In that strip photo of the 3 ferries, Crystal Spirit is a Palm Beach ferry. The other 2 are Central Coast ferries.