The future of Manly's iconic Freshwater-class 1100 passenger ferries is under threat with the NSW Government announcing that they will be replace by 400 passenger Emerald class catamarans early next year.
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Deputy Mayor & President of the Good for Manly Association, Candy Bingham, will move at next weeks Council meeting (27/10/20) that the Northern Beaches Council hold an urgent meetings with the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance, over his recent announcement to scrap the large Manly ferries.
“The community is in shock. The proposal by the Minister to ‘keep maybe one for two’ 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 passenger numbers during peak visitor periods have not been considered” Cr Bingham said.
“Last Australia Day we had 80,591 people visit Manly by Ferry; over the Easter 4-day weekend in 2019 there were 257,960 people; and on average 47,000 come to Manly by ferry each day of summer.” she added.
With 2.8m people coming by ferry in 2019, 1 million of them international tourists according to Destination NSW’s Manly Visitor Profile of the year ended December 2019, there is major concern that the NSW Government is just focusing on the use of the ferries by commuters, and has totally overlooked the tourist market.
“The large ferries are the life-blood of Manly. Since 1850 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” Cr Bingham added.
President of the Manly Business Chamber, Charlotte Rimmer, said that the Chamber will be joining the Council’s push to have the Freshwater-class ferries retained.
“Our Executive met last week. The economic value that the large ferries bring to Manly is enormous. We are concerned that 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 in Sans Francisco.” Ms Rimmer said.
According to Paul Garrett, the 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 next year, the Queenscliff in October, the Narrabeen in November and the Collaroy in October 2023. They are unlikely to returned to service.
“These ferries are only 40 years old and still have decades of service left in them. For example the NSW Government is currently refurbishing the First Fleet class ferries, which are of the same age.
“Rather than see 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 double-ended Manly ferries are an internationally recognised Australian Institution”, he added.
Cr Candy Bingham is mounting a community campaign to reverse the decision to allow time for a detailed business case to be undertaken to include the tourism and economic value that these ferries bring to Sydney.
In the meantime a Change.org petition Save Australia’s Manly Ferry is gaining major momentum with over 5,000 signatures and growing, and concerned citizens are being encouraged to send an email to:
Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance at: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Local Member, James Griffin at: email@example.com
and the Minister for Tourism, Stuart Ayres at: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE HISTORY OF THE MANLY FERRIES has been provided by Richard Michell, President of the Manly, Warringah & Pittwater Historical Society, and is attached below.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.