This guide to information resources on ferries and inshore craft covers vessels that operate on Sydney Harbour and those used in other states. Many of the resources below are available in the museum library.

Sydney Harbour ferries

The ferries of Sydney

Graeme Andrews. - [several editions 1969-1994]. Sydney. Reed; Oxford, 1969-1994.
386.6099441 AND
The first ever published book on Sydney Ferries.

Paddle steamers of Australasia

R.H. Parsons and J.C. Holley. Lobethal, S.A. R.H. Parsons, 1968.
386.22430994 PAR
Discusses all of the paddle ferries and paddle tugs that worked on and from Port Jackson.

Sydney's transport: Studies in urban history

Edited by Garry Wotherspoon. Sydney Hale and Iremonger, 1993.
A collection of essays concerning the development of Sydney's transport. Includes Manly ferries but not inner harbour routes.

Sydney ferry fleets

A.M. Prescott. Magill, S.A. R.H. Parsons, 1984
386.6099441 PRE.
Contains information on companies, routes, ferries and ferry data and features an alphabetical listing.

Manly ferries of Sydney Harbour

Tom Mead. - Sydney Child & Associates, 1988.
386.6099441 MEA
Covers Manly ferries in great detail up to 1988 and features personal stories and reminiscences.

The Sydney ferry book

Dale Budd, Randall Wilson. Sydney : UNSW Press, 2006
386.6099441 BUD

North of the harbour

L.A. Clark. Sydney. Newey & Beath, 1976.
380.5099441 CLA
An excellent explanation of the early public transport services to the north shore (including ferries).

Taking the ferry: ferry services and travel on the North side from the days of the watermen to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

North Sydney Council. North Sydney: The Council, 2002
386.6099441 TAK

Further resources

Heritage consultant and well known ferry author Tony Prescott's Sydney Transport Digital Publishing Project will assist those researching the history of ferries and transport in Sydney and it's surrounding areas. The site includes links to his thesis on Manly ferries at Sydney University, a series of online publications on Sydney and Hawkesbury ferries and a bibliography of his printed works.

The Sydney Heritage Fleet Maritime Records Centre (phone 9298 3850) holds plans of some of the Sydney Harbour ferries in its Maritime Records and Research Centre.

Other ferry services

New South Wales

The ferrymen: The history of the Forster-Tuncurry passenger and ferry service from 1890 to 1959

Philip Howard. Tuncurry, N.S.W. J.Wright, c. 1977.
386.6099442 HOW

Ferries of the lower Clarence

D. Stuart Towner. Maclean, N.S.W. Maclean District Historical Society, 1985.
386.6099443 TOW
Small river ferries and cable punts were vital to the public infrastructure along the state's largest coastal river in the days before modern road transport.

A history of ferries on the Central Coast of NSW: Gosford and Wyong areas

Gwen Dundon. Berowra Heights, N.S.W. : Deerubbin Press, 2010.
386.6099442 DUN


Ferries of the Derwent

Dave O'May. Hobart. D.G. O'May, 1988.
386.6099461 OMA
Hobart's Derwent River commerce developed with and similar proportion to that of Sydney's Port Jackson. Some of the small cargo and passenger ferries worked along the adjacent coasts but most stayed on the Derwent estuary.

Ships in Tasmanian waters

G.W. Cox. Hobart. Fuller's Bookshop, 1971.
386.22 COX
The story of the working and passenger vessels of the South East of Tasmania and the area's floating bridge.

Ferry to Tasmania: a short history

Peter Plowman. Dural, N.S.W. : Rosenberg Publishing, 2004
386.09946 PLO
A history of the Bass Strait - Tasmania ferry service.


Ferries on the Yarra

Colin Jones. Melbourne. Greenhouse, 1987.
386.6099451 JON
Ferry and excursion services on the Yarra River began soon after the settlement of Melbourne.

Down the Bay: The story of the excursion steamers of Port Phillip

T.K. Fitchett. Adelaide. Rigby, 1973.
387.243099452 FIT
Comparable in public folk memory to Sydney's Manly ferries, but often much bigger and faster, the paddle steamers of Port Phillip are well described and illustrated by the author's paintings.

Bay steamers and coastal ferries
Jack Loney. Sydney. Reed, 1982.
387.2309945 LON
In addition to ferries and excursion vessels many small passenger and cargo ships worked out of Port Phillip Bay along the coast before rail and roads took over.

Western Australia

From oar to diesel on the Swan

Paper prepared by K.O. Murray. Perth. Western Australian Historical Society. June 1948.
386.3099411 MUR

Fifty years afloat: An autobiography of a ferryman

Hugh Cameron. Perth. Hesperian Press, 1996.
386.609941 CAM
A personal account by a working ferryman, detailing how he built and operated his own large steel ferry. Provides an insight into ferry operations on the Swan River and the Rottnest Island service.

South Australia

Boats across the lake: the Milang, Narrung, Meningie boat service

Victor Woodrow. [Milang, S. Aust.] : Milang and District Historical Society, 2001.
386.6099423 WOO
Ferries across Lake Alexandrina.


"Oh-ver": history of the Brisbane River cross river ferries

by Percy Hanlon. [Brisbane: P. Hanlon, 2000]
386.224309943 HAN

Further Resources

Bridges and ferries of Australia

Valmai Phillips. Bay Books. Sydney, 1983.
624.20994 PHI
Briefly cover ferries that are extensions of road networks (such as the Kangaroo Island Ferry and Wisemans Ferry).

"Cable Ferries: A Disappearing Breed"

Andrews, Graeme. Australian Sea Heritage, no. No. 11 Spring 1986 (1986): 16-18.
This article looks at the history of cable ferries, which were once a large feature of travelling by car in New South Wales. Includes metropolitan ferries such as the Lugarno Ferry, Wisemans Ferry.

The wheels still turn: A history of Australian paddleboats

Peter Plowman. Kenthurst, NSW. Kangaroo Press, 1992.
386.30994 PLO

The watermen of Sydney: Memories of a working harbour

Graeme Andrews. Wahroonga, N.S.W. Turton & Armstrong, 2004.
994.41 AND

The car punts of Newcastle

Bill Bottomley. Kulnura, N.S.W: Wirrimbirra Workshop, 2008
386.6099442 BOT

Pride of the port: the watermen of Hobart Town

Graeme Broxam. Hobart, Tas.: Navarine Publishing, 2009
387.2026 BRO

Looking to buy books? Shop online at the museum store.

Our research guide, Pictures of ships in the Australian trade will assist you with locating illustrations and photographs.