SS Kuring-gai

SS Kuring-gai was a ferry that served on the Sydney to Manly run from 1901 to 1928.

Name: Kuring-gai
Operator: Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company
Port of registry: Sydney
Route: Manly
Builder: Mort's Dock and Engineering
Launched: 1901
Maiden voyage: 1901
Out of service: 1928
Fate: hulked 1934, sunk post World War 2
General characteristics
Tonnage: 497 tons
Length: 51.8 m (169 ft 11 in)
Beam: 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in)
Height: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
Decks: 2
Installed power: 85 NHP
Propulsion: 3 cylinder tripled expansion steam engines
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Capacity: 1,228 passengers

An iron framed, steel-plated double-ended screw ferry, it was the archtype of the familiar Manly ferry shape of the 20th century.

The name "Kuringai" is an ethnonym referring to indigenous Australian peoples from between the Gamilaraay and Sydney


Kuring-gai was ordered by the Port Jackson Co-operative Steamship Co. Ltd, which became the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company. The vessel was designed by renowned naval architect, Walter Reeks and was a development of Reeks' previous Manly ferry, the wooden Manly. Kuring-gai's wheelhouses were located immediately adjacent either side of her single funnel. She was the first Manly ferry to have gangway exits on both upper and lower decks. The subsequent Binngarra type of vessels were larger versions of Kuring-gai but with wheel houses at the far ends of the upper deck.

Her basic design was emulated on eleven ferries that formed the twentieth century fleet of Manly ferries; namely the Binngarra class ferries, the two Dee Why-class ferries and the South Steyne. The basic layout was also emulated in the four current Freshwater-class ferries introduced in the 1980s and still operating.


Kuring-gai was built 1901 in at Mort's Dock and Engineering in Balmain. Her triple expansion steam engines, supplied by Mort's Dock and Engineering generated 85 hp. She reached 15.66 knots on her trials on 28 April 1901, and ran her first revenue trip to Manly on the 11 May 1901.[1] The vessel won instant acclaim for the quality of her passenger accommodation - polished timbers, mirrors and electric lights. Kuring-gai set the standard and pattern of later vessels that was not altered much until the arrival of Dee Why, Curl Curl and South Steyne.

Service life

Kuring-gai had one accident, in 1905, when she overshot the wharf at Circular Quay and buried herself in a large hole that the brand new Binngarra had carved out four days earlier - she was freed by the paddlewheeler, Brighton.[1]

Kuring-gai was reboilered in 1922. Her capacity of 1,228 passengers became too small for the booming Manly route, particularly in comparison to the larger Binngarra class ferries that had been subsequently introduced. Following the arrival of the fast and big Dee Why and Curl Curl from Scotland, she was sold to Newcastle Ferries Ltd in 1928[1] and used as a ferry on the then Walsh Island (Kooragang). She was also used to run excursions to Raymond Terrace, Nelson Bay and Broughton Island.


She was tied up and hulked in 1934. The wooden superstructure was demolished and in World War II, US forces used her in New Guinea as a storage barge. After the War, the vessel was towed back to Newcastle, moored at Hexham and finally sank in the mud near Hexham Bridge where she is still visible.


  • Andrews, Graeme (1975). The Ferries of Sydney. A.H. & A.W. Reed Pty Ltd. ISBN 0589071726.
  • Prescott, AM (1984). Sydney Ferry Fleet. Magill South Australia: Ronald H Parsons. ISBN 0909418306.
  • Scanlon, Mike. "What Lies Beneath". Newcastle Herald. Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
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