This image from a glass plate negative, produced between 1902 and 1910, depicts the ferry terminal at Milsons Point on the north side of Sydney Harbour in the centre of the image looking to the west. The terminal was a busy interchange for people intending to cross the harbour before the Sydney Harbour Bridge was completed in 1932. North Shore commuters had to travel by steam train to Milsons Point then alight and cross the Harbour by ferry to Bennelong Point where the Sydney Opera House now stands. Other travellers who arrived on wheeled vehicles or horses crossed by vehicular ferry. The Milsons Point ferry terminal building features a domed clock tower and an elongated domed roof section which provided shelter from the weather for waiting passengers. The photograph was taken at almost 11.30 am and part of the fleet of Sydney Ferries Ltd is shown with two ferries in service and others awaiting peak hour traffic.
Several ferries are at the terminal. At the left passengers are boarding one of the larger ferries, used mainly for the Milsons Point to Circular Quay service. Below the clock tower, end on, is the vehicular ferry 'Kamilaroi' (1901-1932). Her design was unique to Sydney. In the centre is the 'Kurraba' (1899-1934) which was used mainly on the Mosman service. This double-ended steamer was 134 feet in length and could carry 890 passengers. The ferry commenced service in 1899 until retired and sold in 1934. All of the ferries depicted appear to be double-ended steamers. Nearest the camera is the ferry 'Wallaby' (1879-1929), the first effective double-ended propeller ferry in Sydney. Alongside is the 'Wallaroo' (1896, rebuilt and renamed 'Kiamala' in 1914). This vessel was used by the Royal Australian Navy during World War II.
A sloping road leading to the ferry terminal can be seen in the centre right of the image. A cable-tram line ran along the road which is also flanked by advertisements including for the 'Sunday Sun' newspaper, the Star newspaper and Anthony Hordern's New Palace Emporium. An office of Hardie and Gorman, House and Land Agents, can also be seen at the terminal. The harbour-side suburbs of Milsons Point and Lavender Bay are in the background.
Graeme Andrews OAM, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences volunteer under the supervision of Margaret Simpson, Curator, August 2015.
This photographic negative was published by the Sydney firm Charles Kerry & Co. and is part of the Powerhouse Museum's Tyrrell collection which contains over 2,900 glass plate negatives by Kerry & Co. Although a few appear to be from the 1880s most were produced between 1892 and 1917. Over this period, and well into the early 1900s, prints from these negatives appeared in many Australian publications and albums of views. In 1903 the company began producing postcards from these negatives, further establishing the images as some of the most significant and best known early views of New South Wales.
Some of the more significant themes covered by the collection include; views of New South Wales, Queensland, country towns, Sydney, Indigenous Australians, the South Pacific, rural life, native flora and fauna, and sentimental views. In addition a number of significant events from the 1900s are covered by the collection including; embarkation of troops for the Boer War, Hordens fire, the Inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901, the arrival of the Great White Fleet and the Burns verses Johnson boxing match at Rushcutters Bay in 1908.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, January, 2009
Newton, Gael, Shades of Light; Photography and Australia 1839 - 1988, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988
David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981
Tyrrell, James, Australian Aboriginal and South Sea Islands Implements, Weapons and Curios, James Tyrrell, Sydney, 1929