Port Stephens Ferry Service History
In 1904 the first passenger ferry between Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens was started by the Boyce and Thurlo families. It proved such a success that the runs had to be expanded to Salt Ash and Soldiers Point. They operated three launches; “Reliance”, “Kingfisher” and “Replica”. These petrol driven vessels carried supplies and passengers on a daily basis.
In 1927 the business was taken over by the Engal family, who installed the first diesel engines to operate at Port Stephens. With the outbreak of World War II the vessels were commandeered and the Engel family was forced to close. In 1987 the ferry service was restarted with an aluminium vessel named “Waterbus” operating four days a week between Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens.
Today, the Port Stephens Ferry Services Pty Ltd operates two traditional old timber ferries and a high speed vessel, carrying many passengers each year from Nelson Bay to Tea Gardens. It’s a ferry ride that both visitors and locals can enjoy, taking in the river system and all the surrounding areas that Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest has to offer.