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Pyrmont Bay to Circular Quay by Ferry

Image: Steve Collins

Undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest and most magnificent harbours, Sydney Harbour has many secrets, many of which are revealed when you take a trip on a Sydney Harbour Ferry.

Pyrmont Bay is a historic part of Sydney due to its location just opposite the main Sydney central business district.

Pyrmont and nearby Darling Harbour were once bustling ports from the earliest days of European settlement in Sydney. Today, perched on hills above Darling Harbour you can still see the former large sandstone wool stores from which millions of bales of wool were once loaded onto ships for their journeys to all parts of the world. Australia’s fine merino wool is the product that first brought wealth to Australia.

Times change and most of the docks have moved out of Sydney Harbour. Many of the original wharves have gone to be replaced by towering skyscrapers.

Most views of Sydney are seen from the east, but by taking the Pyrmont Bay ferry to the main terminal at Circular Quay the lesser-known western side of the harbour is revealed, and it too is stunning.

Pyrmont Bay Wharf is located right next to the Australian Maritime Museum so the nearest neighbour is a full-size recreation of Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour.

Image: Steve Collins

As the ferry turns 180 degrees you see some very modern luxury passenger vessels lined up opposite the wharf.  A few minutes later and we pull into one of Sydney’s newest wharves at Barangaroo.

The name recognises one of the original indigenous groups who lived in this area, which would now be completely unrecognisable to those aboriginal residents.

From there the ferry heads west to one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs, Balmain. As you near the wharf you’re greeted by some historic buildings, before stopping at the modern wharf.

There are eight islands in Sydney Harbour, and the ferry passes close by Goat Island which was once used as a sandstone quarry and to store explosives.  Now it is a national park where people enjoy guided heritage tours.

Heading north towards the bustling commercial centre of North Sydney we stop at McMahons Point and then head east across Lavender Bay, passing  Luna Park to Milson’s Point, which is situated almost beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From here, as the bridge towers way above, you can appreciate just what a marvellous engineering feat it was to construct.

Directly opposite is another fantastically engineered building, the Sydney Opera House which is one of the world’s most recognizable buildings. When you see it in real life you realise what a massive building it actually is.

As the ferry turns into Circular Quay, our final destination, we pass the historic Rocks area and the International Cruise Terminal, which once hosted dozens of ships each year, but has been vacant since Covid began.

Docking at Circular Quay you can continue your tour of Sydney by foot, train, bus, tram or by hopping on another Sydney to further admire this most scenic of harbours.

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