Watson’s Bay Ferry

Image via Tom Häkkinen
Departing Rose Bay, Point Piper is visible to the left
and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is visible in the distance.
The Watson’s Bay Ferry serves commuters from Sydney’s Eastern suburbs ferry wharfs to Circular Quay, the main ferry terminal of Sydney and also the site where the city was originally founded. You can jump on the Watson’s Bay ferry from Double Bay, Rose Bay and Watson’s Bay, as well as Darling Point ferry wharf and also the ferry wharf at Garden Island Naval Base and it will take you direct to the city centre. It’s fast, runs on time, zooms straight past all the peak hour traffic on your way to work and you get tremendous views of Port Jackson (also known as Sydney Harbour). Only pity for tourists is that outside of peak-hour times, the service is rather infrequent.

Image via Tom Häkkinen
Fort Denison [centre] and the Sydney Opera House to
the right.
Fortunately for me I have the “onerous” task of having to cross this particular body of water on my way to school every morning. In all truthfulness it could well qualify as the highlight of my day. As hilarious as my students can be sometimes, it would take some special craziness from the students to top this view everyday. I enjoy seeing the deep blue of the water on a clear day, and passing Fort Denison, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. I also have a particular fondness for the two islands in the middle of the harbour which I pass but never set foot on, maybe it’s the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” on a young and impressionable mind, but I can’t help but feel a particular fascination for all types of islands. Fittingly for a Robert Louis Stevenson fantasy one is named “Shark Island”, the other has been dubbed the infinitely more mundane “Clark Island”.

Image via Tom Häkkinen
The cruise ship Europa moored at Circular Quay
International Passenger Terminal
Occasionally I might also spot floating into the city one morning, the bloated carcass of a leviathan. Upturned, grotesque white belly bulging into the air, dwarfing nearby buildings, while underneath, the cool navy blue is just visible along the water line. Although called cruise ships, as a conurbation of some 2000-5000 people, they may as well fit the geographer’s definition of a medium-sized town. Ever since the Diane Brimble scandal, I can’t help but associate these massive ships with a certain decadence and the faint reek of death. Thus, the glistening white of their exteriors is but further testament to their ossification and the otherwise innocent circling of the seagulls above the harbour now takes-on a more a sinister hue.

Image via Tom Häkkinen
Two ferries passing by.
Still, vibrant, young Sydney has life enough to spare without begrudging the cashed-up new arrivals their share. Only sometimes I wonder at what it must be like for those small Pacific Islands whose population doubles with the arrival of such a ship and are thus stuck in a grim dance with death, dependant as they are on the tourist dollar, but finding nevertheless that like an addictive drug, this same source of nourishment cheapens and destroys their culture.
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Natasha said...

My cousins live in Darling Point and one of the highlights of my trips to see them is always catching the ferry! You are so lucky to be living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!!!!

Best wishes,

Akseli Koskela said...

Thanks Natasha, on a sunny day Sydney definitely has its moments.

roxy said...

I enjoyed your writing here. (As I always do.) Especially the description of the leviathan and the water. I have a lake near my home and I spend far too much time watching it from my kitchen. I often forget I'm living in a desert. The views from your ferry ride are beautiful. I can see that the commute could be a highlight of your day.

PAMO said...

I felt as if I were on that ferry ride with you this morning. What a wonderful way to start the day and contemplate what lies ahead.
Your imagery is beautiful and I share in your musings about the islands, dependent on tourist dollars yet damaged by their influence.
Your photos are gorgeous!

Judie said...

Akseli, this is an excellent article. We Americans know far too little about life in Australia, and your post is a great help! If I had to take a ferry to work every day, I would never make it. I get terribly seasick, even on short jaunts!

JJ said...

Have a great Valentine's Day!

Akseli Koskela said...

Thanks for the comments all. It is a nice moment for contemplation to begin the day with.

Trip Out Corner said...

Wait till our foreign friends read your upcoming article on Cockatoo Island!

Akseli Koskela said...

My upcoming article on Cockatoo Island? Wait... what? This is news to me Serkan!

Can I assume that you are planning a picnic, barbecue or day-out at Cockatoo Island then?

Karyn said...

Every morning? Lucky. You seem to love the water, which makes you a man of my own heart. Though your scene certainly tops mine, I live next to a lake and could never imagine not living near a body of water. There's something about it that transcends all of nature's beauties for me.

Akseli Koskela said...

Thanks Karyn, yes I do feel quite lucky getting to catch the ferry every morning. I'm sure the lake views are great near your place too. Lakes can have such a magical mirror-stillness that is so quieting and soothing.

I really appreciated living by a lake when I was in Finland. You should read my blog from August last year, "Life in Finland":