If you’ve happened to notice an Edwardian-style boat cruising along the Swan River lately, don’t adjust your glasses. It is real, modelled on the vessels which sailed these waters in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and is the brainchild of Kevyn Townley, who started up the Little Ferry Co service in March this year, after 2 and a half years of planning. Inspired by our great skyline and amazing sunrises and sunsets, Kevyn’s aim was to maximise the city’s riverside location by making better use of the waterway for tourism and transit purposes. He chose the cosmopolitan Claisebrook Cove in East Perth and the CBD’s newest hotspot, Elizabeth Quay, as his two departure points, with regular services operating from both ends seven days a week.
What makes this service so special, however, is that it is 100% electric and therefore completely eco-friendly. Solar panels provide up to 35% of the Queensland-built vessel’s power, though its batteries are also recharged every night. In an age where protecting the environment is more important than ever before, the Little Ferry Co’s commitment to clean waters and renewable energy is not only refreshing, but also somewhat of a pioneering feat. Kevyn tells me there are very few, if any, other comparable services anywhere else in the world. I am astounded by how quiet the boat is, and it is so nice to be able to hear the water lapping alongside you as you sail along.
The company has a total of four skippers, including Kevyn, each of whom has their own personal style in informing passengers of the sights along the way. Ours, Bob, was a full bottle on the local history, imparting it with good humour and a smile. The ride becomes somewhat of a narrative, not to mention a sneak peek into the ever-changing face of Perth. As we leave Claisebrook Cove, we float past the Perth Stadium construction site, followed by the glittering Crown Towers hotel, due to be completed later this year. Look to the right and we see the beginnings of the multi-million-dollar Waterbank development, which will ultimately feature high-rise apartment blocks, offices and even a small beach. Passing under the Causeway and out around Point Fraser, we encounter the Bali-inspired Ku De Ta complex, which, when completed (expected to be October or November), will feature restaurants, bars, function rooms and an ice-cream parlour. And as the journey draws to an end, we pull into Elizabeth Quay, itself a fine example of how far Perth has already come, and of how much untapped potential it still has.
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Kevyn’s vision is ultimately to expand the ferry services, perhaps with shuttles to and from Perth Stadium, and additional routes to Fremantle or the Swan Valley. At present, however, his focus is on consolidating and developing the existing service, with a second vessel expected to start operation later this year. His venture has in fact been so successful that, in just three short months, it has gone from being #159 to being ranked Perth’s number 5 “thing to do” on the world’s leading travel website, Trip Advisor. See the rave reviews for yourself.
The Little Ferry Co operates daily 9am-5pm between Claisebrook Cove (East Perth) and Elizabeth Quay. After 5pm, it is also available for charters, including progressive dinners. Whether you’re a tourist, or just want to feel like a tourist for the day in your own city, this eco-friendly ferry service is a fantastic way to see Perth and its ever-evolving face from the waters of the Swan River.
For more information, including prices and schedules: