Frederickton Ferry Timetable Sign ; 02110


Kempsey Museum


Frederickton Ferry Timetable Sign

About this object

This framed painted tin sign was used at the Frederickton to East Frederickton ferry crossing over the Macleay River connecting Austral Eden and East Frederickton to Frederickton. It indicates the working hours, meal hours and maintenance schedule of the ferry service.

The ferry was an important link for the residents of East Frederickton and Austral Eden. Dairy produce was brought across the river to the Frederickton Dairy Factory while children used the ferry to travel to school each day.

The first hand operated ferry was greeted with much excitement in 1882 and was operated privately by a tender process. In 1906 the Shire of Macleay took over the responsibility of running local ferries and punts. This meant ferry men were employed by the Shire Council with formalised wages and conditions.

This sign gives an indication not only of the ferry operating hours but also the working conditions of the ferry employees, particularly their working hours and meal breaks which were described by a correspondent to the Macleay Argus in 1907: ‘…Boil his own billy, cook his own tucker, if he had time. Often have it half cooked, when someone calls out PUNT O! You have to go, come back to make a fresh start, fire out, light it again and often get half through your meal…’

The sign evidences the challenges of staffing a ferry service and making it available to its numerous users whilst ensuring ferry men were given appropriate meal and rest breaks.

The Frederickton ferry service operated until 1973 when bridges over the Macleay River made it redundant. This sign is a reminder of the important role of ferries in transporting people and produce in the Macleay River valley and in particular the vital role of ferry men, the men who operated the ferry in all conditions and at all hours to service the transport needs of the their local community.

Peter Ryan and Garry Munday
14 August 2014

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