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Lower Portland Ferry saved for a year but out of the water for repairs soon

Aug 4, 2023

A last minute deal with Lower Portland Ferry operator TONO by the Hawkesbury and Hills Councils, will see the service continue to operate until September 2024. 

Funding details were not provided for the extended contract. However, NSW government’s part-funding continues until June 30, 2024 and both councils said they are in discussions with the NSW Government to continue to secure a longer-term funding arrangement.

“Currently, the Lower Portland Ferry is the only vehicle ferry on the Hawkesbury River that is not fully funded by the NSW Government. Council is of the view that the service should be funded by the NSW Government in the same way as all other ferries on the Hawkesbury River are managed and funded,” a Hawkesbury City Council media release said.

Last minute deal secures Lower Portland Ferry for another year.

TONO had advised Hawkesbury City Council on July 25 that it would cease operations on August 5 when its four year contract was finished. The two councils jointly fund the ferry but it is managed by HCC.

On Aug 1, HCC advised the Hawkesbury Post that it was in last minute talks with TONO to continue the service despite not having issued a tender to continue the service past this month.

HCC will not say why it had not issued a new tender, ahead of the previous tender being completed.

But ferry users and local businesses will feel pain for several months as the ferry is pulled from the water for regular maintenance. 

“It is expected that there will be a period in the next few months when the ferry will be temporarily unavailable, for a major and unavoidable maintenance overhaul. This is a normal process and is required every 3 – 5 years as a requirement of both the licencing body and Hawkesbury City Council’s insurers,” HCC said in a media release.

A tender for maintenance to the ferry was issued the same day that TONO gave the Council notice it would cease operations tomorrow (August 5).

“The Lower Portland Ferry is a critical link between the Hawkesbury and The Hills for hundreds of residents,” Hawkesbury Mayor Sarah McMahon said.

“Council was not going to allow this important ferry link to close. As with many contract negotiations these things can take time to finalise, and I thank the community for their patience and understanding,” she said.

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