I Went For A Ride On Sydney Harbour For The Ferrython & Want Others To Try It Too

The annual Australia Day Ferrython is one of those magical Sydney moments I’d always wanted to part of and this year I was lucky enough to be invited by China Southern airlines, who fly A380s to Guangzhou and have sponsored the race for the last three years.

We took our friend Fergus, aged 6, who’s a big fan because he has the Fergus the Ferry books series, written by Sydney lawyer John Williamson-Noble, and Fergus and the Race is all about the big day!

Four ferries raced from Fort Denison, down the harbour and around Shark Island, before heading west to the finish line under the Harbour Bridge.

The race started in 1981 and 30 years ago, there was a close shave when the Karrabee took on water and sank at Circular Quay not long after it had unloaded hundreds of race passengers.

In recent years the Lady class ferries battled it out, then two years ago the zippy, and perhaps appropriate, First Fleet class catamarans took over, with four corporate sponsors dressing them up. The Star, who sponsor the Sydney Festival, are new the kids on the boat.

It’s an amazing day out and the number of spectators, both on the water and harbourside, blew me away. Everyone was so excited and had a great time.

My one wish is that everyone could have the chance to go and I’d appeal to the organisers – it’s part of the Sydney Festival – to put on one more ‘People’s Ferry’ so people can buy tickets and join in the fun.

The race was more a ballet than propellers to the floor as the boats weaved in and out of each other and surged forward at full throttle. I suspect the result had a touch of WWE about it. The NRMA won, but hey, when you have Dawn Fraser, NRMA director and champion swimmer on board, it’s no surprise.

Here are some pics from my adventure.

Here's our ferry, Friendship (yes, that was the name of one of the 11 First Fleet boats), dressed up in China Southern Airlines livery.

We even had our own inflatable plane tail on the boat

How cool is this? The old and the new and the best of Sydney Harbour

The crowds by the harbour were amazing!

Like horses before the race, we mingle at the starter's gate.

Aaaaand we're off!

We had our own Police escort to keep the spectator boats a safe distance from the race.


Yep, it really was full steam ahead!

P&O got into the spirit of Australia Day, with two cruise ships anchored in the middle of the harbour

Hey Dawn, give us a wave! That's Dawn Fraser atop the NRMA boat

The effort so many boats put into 'dressing up' was fantastic

Like I said, our spectators looked great!

And the field tightens as we pass Fort Denison for the finish line

Go China Southern! Our crew with a view

There were plenty of places to watch the action

And the NRMA crosses the line in 1st place

After the finish, we had lunch on the boat, provided by China Southern. I wish Sydney Ferries had catering

Is this ambush marketing? A Qantas A380 does a low flypast over the Harbour Bridge, passing over our China Southern Airlines ferry

I wish someone would repair the piece of Sydney Harbour history so we can see it gracing the harbour again

After the race there was a parade of decorated boats, including this one with a Red Dog theme

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