The rules for whether pets are allowed on ferries in Sydney differ depending on whether it is a government-operated ferry or one of the privately-operated ferries. Read on to find out more about the rules for that apply to each ferry and whether you can take dogs on Sydney ferries.
Ferries Operated by Transport NSW
The rules for dogs on the Sydney Ferries operated by Transport NSW are similar to rules for government-operated buses and the light rail. These apply both on the harbour and the Rivercat ferries operating from Circular Quay, including the popular Manly ferry.
Pets are only allowed if they are confined in a box, basket or other container. This basically means only small dogs able to be carried in a pet carrier are allowed onboard. You also need to receive permission from the crew and pets need to travel on the outside deck if available.
Until a couple of years ago, the need for a carrier was often not enforced, with even larger dogs allowed onboard. But after a few incidents, the written rules are these days being enforced.
Privately-Operated Ferries in Sydney
The rules for dogs on private-operated ferries in Sydney are generally more flexible, with dogs of all sizes often permitted on board, with just the requirement they that are leashed. However, this is not always the case, sometimes the rules are the same as for the government-operated ferries.
Read on to find out the specific rules for each ferry company and whether you can take dogs on ferries in Sydney…
Manly Fast Ferry
Manly Fast Ferry operates regular ferry services between Circular Quay and Manly, taking a quicker 18 to 20 minutes compared to the traditional ferries. There’s even a bar onboard. They also operate a ferry service between Manly and Watsons Bay.
The rules for pets travelling on the Manly Fast Ferry are the same as on the government-run ferries. That is, pets need to be restrained in a suitable box, basket or other container at at all times, they need to travel on the outside deck if available, and you need to ask permission of the crew.
Manly Fast Ferry also operates sightseeing cruises and offers 1-day and 2-day Sydney Harbour Hopper Passes, however, it isn’t clear whether the same rules appear on these vessels.
Cronulla Ferries operate a regular ferry crossing between Cronulla and Bundeena, on the northern edge of the Royal National Park. The ferries operate roughly hourly, with the journey taking about 25 minutes in each direction.
Dogs are allowed on the ferry, as long as they are leashed, for no extra charge. When I’ve caught the ferry, I’ve seen dogs onboard it multiple times.
While dogs are not allowed to join you on a hike in the Royal National Park, there are dog-friendly beaches in Bundeena. Dogs are allowed on both Gunyah Beach, adjacent to the ferry wharf, and the larger Hordern Beach, at certain times of the week and year. Check the rules for dog-friendly beaches in Sydney.
Palm Beach Ferries
Palm Beach Ferries operates two main routes from Palm Beach in the far north of Sydney. Firstly, they operate the Basin Ferry Service, with stops around Pittwater including Mackerel, Currawong and the Basin. The service operates roughly hourly, with the trip to the Basin taking 20 minutes.
Secondly, they operate a service across to Ettalong and Wagstaffe on the Central Coast, crossing Broken Bay. This crossing to Ettalong takes about 25 minutes, with this service also operating roughly hourly.
Dogs are allowed onboard, as long as they are always on a leash and remain on the outside deck. There is no charge for dogs.
Enjoy a cruise around Pittwater or across Broken Bay with your dog on the ferry. Alternatively, use the ferry to access the dog-friendly beach at Mackerel, which is only accessible by boat, or enjoy a day at Ettalong, also home to a off-leash dog beach.
Note that the Basin lies within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, where dogs are prohibited, so dogs obviously can’t disembark at this stop.
Boathouse Ferry Co.
A second ferry also operates from the Palm Beach ferry wharf. The current operators of the ferry to Patonga is the Boathouse Ferry Co, part of the same group that operates the up-market pubs of the same name in Palm Beach and Patonga.
Crossing take place on the original Palm Beach ferry ‘Merinda II’. Double check the ferry timetable in advance. In particular, there are only limited departures over the winter, with the ferry not operating midweek.
Dogs are welcome onboard the Boathouse Ferry, presumably needing to be leashed and kept on the outside deck. Once you arrive in Patonga, there’s a great off-leash dog beach next to the jetty, with no time restrictions. Plus of course The Boathouse Patonga welcomes pets in its outdoor dining area.
Church Point Ferry Service
At the southern end of Pittwater, the Church Point Ferry Service operates from Church Point. Roughly hourly ferries cross to nearby Scotland Island, plus to a number of wharves on the western shore of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
Dogs are welcome on the ferry, as long as they are always kept on a leash and under control at all times. Be a responsible dog owner and make sure this privilege remains!
Make use of the ferry to enjoy the day on Scotland Island with your dog. There are multiple wharves around the island. Note that dogs are prohibited from entering Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
Brooklyn Ferry Service
The Brooklyn Ferry Service is a small privately-run ferry operating out of Brooklyn, on the shores of the Hawkesbury River. They operate two restored historic vessels across to Dangar Island the small enclave of Little Wobby Beach on the far side of the river, with roughly hourly departures.
There are two options for bringing pets on board. Either they need to be contained in a cage, or else they need to be both leashed and muzzle. Halter straps are not sufficient, and while loan muzzles used to be available, you now need your own muzzle.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.