Pictured here is a retired ferry master and lovely gentleman called Ray Cox, sitting with his friend (who wanted to be unnamed) as she played the “Manly Ferry Song” by Judy Small.
Ray and his friend caught the ferry with about fifty other people today, December 10, in support of the retention of our large Freshwater ferries.
It was a mini protest led by Manly MP James Griffin. James had a quick word to the crowd this morning to say he would be gunning for retention of more than one Freshwater ferry “in perpetuity”, but only for weekend and public holiday runs.
It follows announcements within his own party, from Transport Minister Andrew Constance, that the larger fleet will be replaced with a smaller Emerald class fleet from next year.
Since that announcement the minister has allowed for one to be retained for weekend use.
Most of those we spoke to today were in favour of retaining all four ferries and for more regular use, but there were many who also felt weekend-only use would be fine, so long as there were two or three in rotation. Most from this latter camp felt the larger ferries were too often empty to justify regular use.
The Save Manly Ferries campaign (led by Beaches Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham) maintains that using the smaller ones for peak commuter runs but maintaining the larger four at all other times is the best approach, particularly given population and tourism growth is to be expected in coming years. They currently have a petition to parliament.
But back to Ray Cox, who said this when we asked what made him come down to the protest today:
“I was a ferry master in the 1960s, back then it was a private company and had to be taken over by the government because they were old vessels and it wasn’t working… I think these larger ferries have the benefit of heritage and with that they contribute to the welfare of society. They are also an icon for travellers everywhere. I hope they keep them.”