• Liam Carroll

Outrage Over Plans to Scrap Classic Manly Ferries

Updated: Feb 13

The State Government wants to scrap all but one of the classic Manly Ferries and replace them with smaller vessels made in China but community outrage is powering a grass roots campaign to save the world-famous Manly icons.

The iconic Manly Ferry, Sydney Opera House and a picture perfect sunrise. Photo credit: Robert Mellow

President of the Good For Manly Association and Northern Beaches Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham is running the campaign to have the decision reversed. She says the public need to have their say, and any decision must consider the estimated $500M in tourist dollars that the iconic large ferries bring to Manly and the Northern Beaches every year.

“The community is in shock,” Cr Bingham said. “The proposal by the Transport Minister to keep just one of the 1100-passenger large Freshwater Class ferries, with the rest to be replaced by three 400-passenger Emerald class catamarans, just doesn’t make sense. It appears that the focus is on commuters and that the large tourist passenger numbers during peak visitor periods have been overlooked.” She added, “The decision to keep just one Manly Ferry is like demolishing the Sydney Opera House but retaining one sail for tourists to photograph”.

The tourist numbers are big. Last Australia Day 80,591 people visited Manly by ferry; over last year’s 4day Easter weekend there were 257,960 ferry visitors; and on average 47,000 people come to Manly by ferry each day during Summer. A total of 2.8M visitors came by ferry during 2019, with one million of those coming from overseas. Northern Beaches Council, which strongly backs the campaign, estimates the tourist economy is worth $500M a year to Manly and the Northern Beaches area. It also accounts for 12% of local jobs. “The large ferries are the life-blood of Manly. Since the 1850s they have serviced this popular tourist destination bringing millions to enjoy our seaside resort. The Fast Ferries are used by commuters, the large ferries are used by day-trippers and those who enjoy the experience of the leisurely 30-minute trip to Manly,” explained Cr Bingham.


President of the Manly Business Chamber, Charlotte Rimmer, said the Chamber stands right behind the Northern Beaches Council to have the Freshwater class ferries retained. “The economic value that the large ferries bring to Manly is enormous. We are concerned this decision has not considered the value of the tourist dollar that this internationally recognised attraction brings. When you come to Sydney you come for the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and a ride on the Manly Ferry. This decision is like removing the cable-cars from San Francisco.”


According to Paul Garrett, Assistant Secretary of the Sydney Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the large ferries undergo a major service every 5 years. The Freshwater is due for service in February, with the Queenscliff due in October. The Narrabeen is scheduled for service in November 2022 and the Collaroy in October 2023. The fear is that the ferries won’t be serviced at all – they will be scrapped instead. NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, has already indicated the Freshwater could be stripped, sunk and used as a diving site. “These ferries are only 40 years old and still have decades of service left in them,” Mr Garrett said. “The NSW Government is currently refurbishing the First Fleet class ferries, which are of the same age. This could also be done for the Freshwater class ferries”.


Cr Bingham believes that rather than seeing expenditure on maintenance and life-extension programs for these Freshwater ferries as a cost, the NSW Government should see it as an investment in an iconic tourist drawcard. “The Manly ferries are an internationally recognised Australian Institution. They must remain.”


What You Can Do

Sign the NSW Parliamentary Petition at www.goodformanly.com.au/ferries

Email Transport Minster Andrew Constance office@constance.minister.nsw.gov.au

Email Local Member James Griffin manly@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Email Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres office@ayres.minister.nsw.gov.au

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