Saturday, 23 April 2016

# 7 - Sydney Ferries

In life in general, you often find yourself having to get from one place to another place.  This is where transport comes in handy, as it greatly reduces the time to get from one place to another place. Particularly if the other place is quite far away.  In a place like Sydney, it is further complicated by the fact that the other place is quite often across the water.  This could cause quite a major issue, but thanks to the wonders of buoyancy and the principle of displacement, we have a solution in the form of ferry travel.

The big ferry taking an early lead
If you've read my previous posts on #9 Manly Ferry and #86 Manly Fast Ferry, then you'll know that I am a big fan of ferries as a way to see and experience Sydney harbour.  Given that the Manly Ferry is a subset of Sydney Ferries, it makes perfect sense that Sydney Ferries should be rated slightly higher.  I believe that Sydney Ferries refers to the official commuter ferries, rather than any of the private ferries that also operate in the area.

In the absence of beer, all you can do is enjoy the lovely scenery, without a beer
The Sydney Ferry network is a comprehensive set of routes, that allows you to get to most major places in the main harbour, and along the Parramatta river.  Most of these places can also be reached by bus, and occasionally by train.  However, the ferry is often quicker, usually more scenic, and in my opinion, a much nicer way to get around.  In some cases, it is also the only option.  If you see a bus offering to take you to Cockatoo Island, you may want to think twice, or at least bring along some underwater breathing apparatus.

Heading East from Circular Quay
There are 7 different routes on the Sydney Ferries network.  These all start or end in Circular Quay, with final destinations of Manly, Taronga Zoo, Parramatta, Darling Harbour, Neutral Bay, Mosman Bay and Watson's Bay.  In addition to the intermediate stops along some of the routes, this will get you to many of the best places to go in Sydney.  In many cases, the journey itself is as much of an attraction as the end destination.

Heading West from Circular Quay - either direction is pretty nice
The ferries are fairly regular, with some routes being more frequent than others.  There are a variety of ferries of varying sizes and layouts.  Most are the green and yellow coloured ferries that look a bit old fashioned, while there are a few of the more modern looking catamaran style ferries.  They can get busy at peak times, but there is almost always sitting room for everyone.  The only time I've seen standing room only, was during the Vivid Festival.

Woolwich - one of the stops on our ferry based pub crawl, the Ferry Crawl
They're generally pretty comfortable, and the journey doesn't tend to be too choppy.  However, they are of course at the mercy of the seas, so there are exceptions to this.  They generally don't run if conditions are considered too rough, but there are times when it can be beyond the comfort zones of some people.  If you tend to suffer from sea sickness, then you should apply common sense when deciding whether to travel.  Well, actually you should apply common sense whether or not you suffer from sea sickness.  In fact, it's a good idea to just apply common sense at all times, in all situations.  In my opinion.

There are still plenty of sights at night, and they don't look quite this grainy in person
Anyway, Sydney Ferries are a well organised and efficient mode of transport around Sydney harbour.  However, they are much more than this.  They are a beautiful way to see Sydney from a different angle, and to experience the fresh air and water views that make Sydney so special.  They take you to many of the biggest tourist sights in Sydney, and for a very reasonable price (generally no more than 16 dollars return, depending on which route you take).  I hate to use the phrase 'must do', but unless you are uncomfortable on the water, then a trip on a Sydney ferry really is a 'must do' while you are in Sydney.

One ferry arriving as another one leaves, both in front of a nice rainbow emanating from the Opera House
Do you agree - are Sydney Ferries one of the best ways to see and experience Sydney?  Or are they just floating buses, and nothing more than a way to get from A to B?  Please share your innermost thoughts and feelings on this matter, or any other matter that you'd like to mention, in the comments below.

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