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Too distracted to farewell the ferry, Sydney’s great vessel of stories

We’re sorry. Truly, we are. We’ll miss you. It’s just the sky is so blue and the sun on the water looks so beautiful and … we got distracted. We do that a lot in Sydney: look at the water, become distracted.

The Freshwater-class ferries have braved some large swells in their time.

The Freshwater-class ferries have braved some large swells in their time.Credit:Nick Moir

That stab of pleasure every time we see you glide into the Quay or dart past the heads, we’ll miss that too. And the thrill of holding our breath, whether we be on shore or on deck, as you duck, weave and conquer the worst of the harbour’s wildness – that will now have to become a commuting tale for the grandchildren. You should have seen the waves crashing over the side. It was a roller coaster ride. It really was. But of course, the story will get a little bit weaker with each telling. You have to have been there, you see.

That colour palette – the yellow and green, under and above clear blue that says Sydney Harbour more succinctly than any logo could. These ferries are as pretty as a picture, yet somehow they often trigger melancholy. Perhaps it’s those hypnotic swells they forge through, the endless journeying back and forth like the city’s metronome, marking time in a busy city.

And then there are the precious cargoes of commuters, sightseers and others who choose to navigate this stretch of water to clear their heads, to plan, to take stock, to grieve across the water. Sometimes you see them, the passengers who go back and forth, back and forth. What is their story? Because it seems just about everyone who’s ridden a Manly ferry has at least one story.

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