Sydney by ferry

West of the Bridge - the Parramatta River

Parramatta River is the western extension of Sydney Harbour.  The history books will tell you that our first "ferry", the Rose Hill Packet, ran to Parramatta in the 1790's.  But by the 20th century, ferries here were limited to the Woolwich service until the government build a fleet of seven rivercats in the 1980's, both to run a tourist service to Parramatta itself, and a commuter service to new wharves above Woolwich.  Rivercats are unusually squat ferries, due to the very low clearance under the railway bridge at Rydalmere.  Conventional ferries have operated as far as Meadowbank but can't get further upstream.

The rivercats were an instant success, and over time became more crowded as old industrial estates along the river were rebuilt as apartment blocks.  Today, the six rivercats are joined by two smaller Harbourcats, and three ferries chartered from Fantasea (Palm Beach Ferries).  The combined fleet of 12 ferries is not far off being half of the entire fleet - not bad for a service that wasn't thought necessary for so long.

Above Woolwich, the new apartments and new ferries have brought many changes.  Today, there are new walking tracks along most of the length of the river, and cafes dotted in many places.  It's not an area where tourists often go, and deserves to be better known.

Particularly on Sundays (when the cheap family fares apply), you may find the Parramatta services packed out.  So, go explore the rest of the river, and you'll also avoid the risk of being transferred to a bus above Rydalmere due to low tides.

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