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Could this be the end for Sydney’s iconic Manly ferries?

Emma Joyce

If you’ve ever sat outside on the yellow-and-green ‘Queenscliff’, ‘Narrabeen’ or ‘Freshwater’ ferries that cruise from Circular Quay to Manly you’ll recognise the feeling of truly living your best Sydney life. You may be risking a perfectly dry outfit for that postcard view of the sun setting behind our city’s famous landmarks, but it’ll be worth it as you post that winning Instagram pic with a smug ‘#mondaycommute’.

Riding the Manly ferry may be a slow and sometimes choppy, but it’s an iconic Sydney experience – one that’s topped our lists of the best things to do in Sydney for years (and tourists love it). So it’s sad news to hear that boarding one of the state’s Freshwater ferries could become a thing of the past.

Sydney Morning Herald reported that French company Transdev, who’ve signed a $1.3 billion contract to run Sydney’s ferries for the next nine years, are introducing three new Emerald-class ferries on the Manly route as early as next year, meaning retirement is on the cards for the larger Freshwater vessels.

The older double-ended Manly ferries can transport 1,000 passengers per vessel and the newer Emerald class can take 400 people per trip. But size isn’t their only blessing – the old chuggers move at a blissfully slow pace, giving you time to play tourist as you watch the Opera House and Taronga Zoo pass you by. And in winter, your journey may even be delayed by humpback whales! Not to mention the free WiFi and a 4 Pines bar on-board.

Of course, the downsides have always included overcrowding, waiting half an hour for the next ferry if you can’t board, and watching the clock during after-work drinks as the last service is just after midnight. But, we can only speculate as to whether or not the more modern fleet will fix any of these issues. Perhaps the Emerald class will be more frequent? Smoother sailors? Have funnier names?

What we do know is that if our time is limited on the loveable chuggers, which have been kicking around for 35 years, we’ll be taking even more chances on dodging a massive wave in the alfresco seats – and taking heaps more photos. Because riding a fancy, new Manly ferry just won’t feel the same.

Discover the 20 best things to do in Manly.

If you just missed the ferry, here are the best places to get a drink in Circular Quay.

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