Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sydney to Gosford ferries

(Letting my fingers do the walking)

Hawkesbury River railway bridge opening May 1st 1889

Hawkesbury River railway bridge opening May 1st 1889

Brisbane Water got busier after the railway came. More day-trippers up from Sydney, more people buying land and moving up here from Sydney or down here from further up the Coast.

Before the railway you got here from Sydney by slow boat round the back of Sydney and up the Hawkesbury or up the coast on a small ferry from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour. Must've been a long queasy trip on rough days.

"The SS Woy Woy runs every Tuesday and Friday at 8am from the foot of Erskine St for Gosford and Woy Woy, calling at Merritt's Wharf(Cockle Creek), Blackwall, Green Point, and New Brighton, or elsewhere as required; fares, 2s 6d single, 4s return.
The SS Erina also leaves Russell's Wharf, at the foot of Bathurst St, at 7.45am on Thursday, picking up passengers at Dawes' Point, if signalled, at 8am; fare 2s 6d return." (1909 tourist handbook)

The foot of Eskine Street is at Darling Harbour in Sydney, just round the corner from Circular Quay. Bathurst Street ends at Darling Harbour as well, right up in Cockle Bay. Dawes Point is at the southern foot of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the CBD side.

2s 6d should be two shillings and sixpence and 4s four shillings. That's Australian currency pre-1966.

The handbook twitters on a bit about the scenery:

"The matchless beauty of the landscape in this portion of the State, the charm of swelling hill and sylvan valley, of precipitous cliff and rocky gorge, of grassy upland and impenetrable masses of forest, is enhanced by the presence of picturesque creeks, romantic bays, and broad sheets of glittering water, the whole presenting a series of magnificent spectacles."

Dunno about "matchless", there's heaps of beautiful places in the world, but otherwise I'd agree with that. Bloody lovely place to live is Brisbane Water.

In 1915 the Gosford Times said "Card-sharpers continue to ply their nefarious calling on trains between Sydney and Gosford. One of their latest victims was relieved of 17 pounds in a very short space of time." Nowadays it's poker.com on yer mobile phone.

Sydney to Woy Woy map

Sydney to Woy Woy map showing Hawkesbury River (left) and railway line completed in 1889 (middle) and the coast up which ferries came from Sydney Harbour.

The Sydney ferry dropped you off at Gosford usually but might go down to Woy Woy after or you could get a local ferry from Gosford.

Woy Woy wharves Phegan's Great Northern Guide 1924

When you got to Woy Woy it looked like this photo from Phegan's 1924 Great Northern Guide. That wharf's in the same spot as the current wharf.

"Goldenia" that building in the middle says. A quick Google suggests Goldenia was either a brand of tea or a race horse.

The closest building, the shed, is about where the commercial wharf is now. The foreground in the lower right of the photo is now Anderson Park, where the annual Fun Run starts. The creek is gone but until about 18 months ago there was a fountain over it.

Wagstaff Point 1900-1910

Wagstaff Point sometime between 1900 and 1910. Manly House stands where the progress hall stands now and the wharf hasn't shifted.

Two launches running, including the latest, largest, and fastest motor launch on the river - The Conqueror - seating accommodation for 150 passengers.
Passengers landed anywhere along the River.
Don't miss a trip to Ettalong Beach, Wagstaff Point, Pretty Beach, Broken Bay, Lion Island etc.. Lovely sandy beaches, surf bathing, good fishing. Hot and cold water free. Return fare 1s. Take the White Ferry. J Murphy, Proprietor." (Peninsula News history article)

What "the Bar" is I can't find out. At a guess I'd say it's the name of the wharf or pub in Sydney where the ferry left from.

Some of the ferries

S.S. Woy Woy was a 24 ton cargo and passenger ferry launched in 1901. In 1905 her fares from Circular Quay to Gosford were 2/6d and 4/- return (two shillings and sixpence, four shillings) Tuesdays and Fridays.

History of Woy Woy - scroll down for photo of the ferry and 1905 land sale in Woy Woy township.

SS Gosford did the Sydney run and also went up to Port Stephens up past Newcastle.

S.S. General Gordon operated a regular passenger and cargo run between Gosford and Sydney. It was a stern-wheel paddle-steamer of 164 tons and carried passengers across the Hawkesbury before the bridge was opened (top photo).

On a charity fund-raiser trip in 1926, says the book, "she was loaded with excited passengers bound for Wisemans Ferry ... The trip was not without incident. The ship broke down and rolled alarmingly in Broken Bay. Gosford band master Dick Wells struck up the tune, '... and he played his ukelele when the ship went down!'" Possibly not the best idea a band master ever had.

The ferry was fixed but then the male passengers spent some time in the pub at Wisemans steadying their nerves and the ferry finally got back to Gosford after 10PM that night, where the passengers' families were getting toe-y on the wharf.

S.S. Erina was damaged by fire in 1911 while she was moored down at Balmain wharf in Sydney. The ship's fireman (stoker) was asleep on board but managed to get off without being roasted alive and the fire brigade came. The ferry survived and was sold in 1934 to an R.W. Miller for use on Sydney Harbour. She was replaced by the Erina II, which was a 77 ton diesel powered vessel built at Empire Bay by Arthur Davis and sons.


Koolewong level crossing & trains - local trainspotting from Trent "Raichase" Nicholson


Suzanne44 said...

Fascinated by the history - you really do a lovely job.

michael said...

I cant see why they cant reintroduce such a ferry service now it would make a shitload of money (I hope) but we are still waiting for the ettalong to circular quay ferry service to get its shit together and get it up and running
I know of Trents work he is a regular contributor to the railpage australia forums

Spike said...

Suzanne, thank yer kindly. This place is small but has a nice rich history to bite into.

Michael, fucking 8 years they've been playing round with that fast ferry bizzo. Need to get their shit together is dead bloody right.

Haven't Googled him yet. Knowledgable is he?

michael said...

I think he is fairly knowlegeable from what i can gather he gets around the system a fair bit taking photos and theyre quite good I dont know him personally only know his work thru his posts over at the railpage forums

Spike said...

What a boon the interwebs must be to trainspotters and their ilk. I rather enjoy popping in on them occasionally and gazing at their pics.

michael said...

well go to www.railpage.com.au/f-f2.htm plenty of good photos on there
also here is a youtube video you might be interested in seeing: