Crossing The Spit

The Spit Ferry Middle Harbour (Fry's Chocolate)Front copy

The image above is an evocative glimpse into era before the Spit Bridge was built. Today, most Sydneysiders and many visitors to the beautiful harbour city are familiar with The Spit Bridge. It is hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t there.

As this image shows though, there was a time when crossing The Spit was not as simple as driving along a bridge. The Spit (which was actually originally known as The Sand Spit) was settled by European colonists as early as the 1840s. In 1849 Peter Ellery took up land opposite The Spit (purchasing the land formally in 1855). Travellers often asked him to take them across the water, and in the early 1850s he decided to start a more formal, paid ferry service adjacent to where The Spit Bridge is today. Originally, the ferry was simply a row boat, but in 1862, with the building of the road to The Spit and the increased traffic the road brought, a better system was needed. Ellery soon replaced the rowboat with a hand operated punt. In 1871 the Government took over the service, operating a public ferry service and in 1888 a steam punt appeared. The steam punt operated right up until the first bridge was built in 1924.

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