The Little Ferry company is to be found at Elizabeth Quay in Perth Western Australia (WA.) Perth is a city on the up. Cranes stalk the skyline and new luxury hotels are going up everywhere. Central to this development is Elizabeth Quay, a brand new hub of leisure and tourism activity right on the Swan River.
It’s good to see the coastline and all the new developments from the perspective of the water, and so we took a ride on a Little Ferry Company vessel up to the end of the river stops at Claisebrook Cove. These little ferry boats are quite special. They are custom built boutique solar electric ferries, which connect Elizabeth Quay, On The Point and Claisebrook Cove throughout the day, with the skippers providing informative commentary along the way.
The boats carry only eleven passengers and cruise quietly and smoothly along in absolute comfort without pollution from fuel emissions or smoke. The craft are very stylish in design, with a very retro 1920’s feel, but powered by a state-of-the-art, BMW electric motor. There’s a brass bell overhanging the gangway and the boats are finished with smart red cedar trim. Marrying the Art Deco look together with practical convenience, is what makes these charming little boats quite unique. The boats were built by a contractor in Queensland, and then replicated by shipwrights in Western Australia.
The boats have solar panels on their roof. The panels charge up banks of lithium batteries which top up an overnight mains charge.
We settled in for our trip on the Jessica Lee, with our cheery skipper, Rory. Rory is a Pert local, and a mine of information about the city and the Swan River. He is also an accomplished player of that iconic Australian instrument the Didgeridoo. Playing a Didgeridoo is an near impossible task, but to even have a shot at it you must master the art of circular breathing which involves breathing in and out of your nose, while continuing to blow out of the mouth at the same time. Rory gave us a polished demonstration of his skills before we’d even pulled out of the harbour, and was able to easily create that iconic noise and even imitate some sounds of the Australian animals, like the dingo and the Kookaburra. Rory actually made this instrument himself which is pretty impressive. He told us about the river which is in fact an estuary, and not actually that deep, and about the different types of birds such as Shags, Ibis and Egrets which live there.
An impressive structure at the centre of Elizabeth Quay is the Bell Tower. The Bell Tower is located on Riverside Drive, overlooking the water’s edge and is one of Perth’s biggest tourist attractions. It has a very modernistic distinctive design – resulting from a major architectural competition – and it has become an icon for Perth and Western Australia. This historic ring of bells was given to the people of Western Australia as part of the national Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Among its many attributes, the Bell Tower includes the original twelve bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields, made in Whitechapel London, which are recorded as being in existence from before the 14th century and recast in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I. These historic bells are still regularly rung, and you can go up the tower and watch the bell ringers at work at regular intervals.
We set sail up the river past Kangaroo Island where a population of wild kangaroos live. They are all female to avoid fighting. Fed by the park rangers the kangaroos can’t swim, and so are effectively marooned roos! One of Perth’s brand new attractions is a purpose built enormous 60,0000 seater stadium replacing the WACA (West Australian Cricket Association) stadium, which was getting rather old. The English have never beaten the Aussie’s at the WACA incidentally, so I guess now they never will. The new stadium is two and half times the size of the old one and the cricket matches will transfer there, along with other major sporting fixtures, and it also serves as a concert venue. Ed Sheeran was appearing there on that evening and it was sell out performance.
As a city, Perth is less than 200 years old and the amount of infrastructure built in that time is impressive. The mining boom brought wealth and prosperity to this part of Australia, and it has some of the most expensive real estate to be found in the country in the swish waterside apartments here, which boast such luminary occupants as Hank Marvin. From The Shadows.
We alighted at the end of the line at Claisebrook Cove where we had some delicious lunch at a restaurant on the waterside. We had a bit of a walk about this Eastern area of the city, and then got the free CAT bus back to Elizabeth Quay. You could go straight back on the ferry though if you wanted to do the round trip.
The Little Ferry Company operates two daily services; the Ferry Service and the Shuttle Service.The Ferry Service includes all three stops in its journey; Elizabeth Quay, On The Point and Claisebrook Cove, while the Shuttle Service is a shorter route running directly between Elizabeth Quay and On The Point. Each journey takes approximately 30 minutes to its destination, equating to a total round trip of 2 hours.
The Shuttle Service also runs at different intervals giving you more options to travel throughout the day. We had a lovely trip with little ferries – a definitely recommended ‘thing to do’ in Perth and thanks to Rory our super skipper!
Find out routes and prices for the Little Ferry company here https://www.littleferryco.com.au/