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Access and Sevices

Ferries and Wharves

Ferries ran regular services from Sans Souci, on the eastern side of Botany Bay, and from La Perouse, at the north head of the Bay, as far back as 1898. After the construction of Captain Cook Drive, a macadamised road from Cronulla-Woolooware to Kurnell Village and the Refinery, passenger numbers fell and these services were running only intermittently by 1957. The last of the ferries ceased running in May 1965. There are currently plans for resuming the service from Brighton to Kurnell. The Brighton wharf is being modified to facilitate the service, though where it will berth at Kurnell is not yet clear.

The first wharf on record was the Holt wharf that extended from below the Cook obelisk out over what is known as Cook's Rock, where the Isaac Smith Memorial Tablet is affixed.
Thomas Holt's wharf built in the 1880s, showing the hoist and floating landing pontoon. An iron fence (later removed) still surrounds the obelisk in this photograph. This was the wharf used by recreational and professional fishermen and by the ferries until 1902. (Photo: Mitchell Library)
In 1899 the State Government resumed the land for the Captain Cook Landing Place Reserve and appointed the Lands Department as Trustee. The Department rebuilt nearby Alpha House and constructed a new wharf to serve employees of the Reserve, residents, fishermen and visitors. After the wharf was built the Fisher family, who operated a boatshed and ferry service at La Perouse, increased the number of their ferry services to Kurnell.
The Lands Department built a new wharf about 100 metres to the north of the obelisk after demolishing the decayed Holt wharf in 1902. (Photo: Mitchell Library)
The shelter shed, occasionally called the 'church', on the park wharf. The church got its name from a fisherman who often spent his entire weekend on the wharf. The priest, coming over by ferry to take the service in the Roman Catholic Church, commented that he had not seen him at Mass for some time. The fisherman replied that he had been in the 'church' on Sunday. (Photo: Harry Morgan)
The park wharf was maintained and kept in good condition, but was demolished by the storms of 1974. Until the 1960s it had the shelter-shed, 'the church', at the end of it. This was the wharf used during the 1970 royal visit for the Cook bicentennial celebrations.
Park wharf decorated for the Cook landing celebrations 1950. The shelter shed can be seen on the wharf. (Photo: Harry Morgan)
Queen Elizabeth walking from the park wharf to the obelisk, April 1970. The royal yacht Britannia is in the background. (Photo: George Blundell)
There was a second wharf, and perhaps a third, at Kurnell before the 1952 refinery wharf was built.  The one most remembered was the Dampier Street wharf because it was something of a failure! It was built with the intention of landing ferry passengers and also to allow the fishermen an easier access to their boats by avoiding a long walk up to the park. But it was strictly a high tide wharf. At low tide there was no water within metres of it and it fell into disuse and decay.
Looking landward along the Dampier Street wharf in the 1940s.  It was better known as the 'Shag's Rest'.  (Photo: Betty Jacobs)
Remains of the Dampier Street Wharf. Also, the railway sleeper retaining wall constructed in 1936 in an attempt to control erosion of the foreshores. (Photo: Betty Jacobs)
The ferry Cape Banks leaving Kurnell. (Photo: Elsie Popplewell (Honnor))
Over the years the Fisher family had a string of ferries which they built at their La Perouse headquarters. Three of their other ferries, all 'steam boats', were the Solander which operated on the Hacking River, the James Cook which operated in Sydney Harbour, and the Erina which operated in Botany Bay and also from the Cronulla Ocean Wharf to Sydney via Kurnell and La Perouse.
CAM Fisher off Alpha House. This ferry after termination of the service in 1957 went to Victoria for a re-fit and has returned to the Georges River as the Eucumbene a touring function vessel. (Photo: Elsie Popplewell)
The CAM Fisher ferry approaching the central landing platform of the park wharf, 1920. The rocks in the foreground are adjacent to the Cook obelisk. (Photo: Elsie Popplewell)
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