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.
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.
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
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.
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
North of the harbour
L.A. Clark. Sydney. Newey & Beath, 1976.
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
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.
Ferries of the lower Clarence
D. Stuart Towner. Maclean, N.S.W. Maclean District Historical Society, 1985.
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.
Ferries of the Derwent
Dave O'May. Hobart. D.G. O'May, 1988.
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.
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
A history of the Bass Strait - Tasmania ferry service.
Ferries on the Yarra
Colin Jones. Melbourne. Greenhouse, 1987.
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.
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.
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.
From oar to diesel on the Swan
Paper prepared by K.O. Murray. Perth. Western Australian Historical Society. June 1948.
Fifty years afloat: An autobiography of a ferryman
Hugh Cameron. Perth. Hesperian Press, 1996.
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.
Boats across the lake: the Milang, Narrung, Meningie boat service
Victor Woodrow. [Milang, S. Aust.] : Milang and District Historical Society, 2001.
Ferries across Lake Alexandrina.
"Oh-ver": history of the Brisbane River cross river ferries
by Percy Hanlon. [Brisbane: P. Hanlon, 2000]
Bridges and ferries of Australia
Valmai Phillips. Bay Books. Sydney, 1983.
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.
The watermen of Sydney: Memories of a working harbour
Graeme Andrews. Wahroonga, N.S.W. Turton & Armstrong, 2004.
The car punts of Newcastle
Bill Bottomley. Kulnura, N.S.W: Wirrimbirra Workshop, 2008
Pride of the port: the watermen of Hobart Town
Graeme Broxam. Hobart, Tas.: Navarine Publishing, 2009
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.