Taking the Sydney ferry almost anywhere is an inexpensive way to see one of Sydney’s best features, the Harbour. A round trip ticket from Circular Quay within Zone 1 cost just $10.60. A trip to Manly and back to Circular Quay is $13.20.
There are a few things to be aware of before taking the ferry. First off, at the ticket vending machine you can only use a card that is linked to a savings or checking bank account. A credit card that is not linked to an account can NOT be used to purchase a ticket. In Australia they have an EFTPOS card (Pronounced “efft-pos” – Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale), essentially an ATM card without a Visa or MasterCard logo. They also have Visa debit cards but they are not used as often. If you are using cash to pay for your ticket be aware that the maximum change from the ticket vending machine is $19.90.
If you have an iPhone I highly recommend getting the TripView app. There is a free version which is perfect for Sydney tourists. The only benefit to the pay version is it allows you to save trips. So if you have just moved to Sydney or are here on business and will be taking the same ferry, train or bus route and you can’t afford to be late, then consider getting the pay version. It’s a whole $3.
Sydney Ferry Timetables PDF Downloads
Download the pdf timetable and save it on your smart phone or iPad to use later.
Step by Step Guide
Below is a step by step guide for purchasing a ferry ticket with the ticket vending machine. If you have any trouble with the vending machine simply go to the attendant at the ticket window. It is often faster to wait in line at the ticket window than to sort out the vending machine. The vending machines are a bit out of date also so be patient when using them.
Sydney Ferry Ticket Vending Machine
Select a Ticket.
There are five tickets to choose from, all listed on the left of the touch screen. At the top is a small window that will display instructions. If paying by debit card keep your eye on this window for what to do next.
On the right is where you pay. Next to the keyboard is a slot to swipe your debit card (magnetic strip facing right). Above is where you can pay with coins. This can be a handy way to get rid of change and easy to do with $2 and $1 dollar coins. You can also pay with bills, the slot next to the coin collection (I didn’t include it in this photo but you will be able to figure it out). Beware that max change you will get back is $19.90. So do not pay with a $50 for a single fare of $5.30.
Select a Fare.
Select Payment.The top instruction window will now ask for payment. You can insert coins or bill but remember not to use large bills for small fares as you will only receive the max change back of $19.90.
Paying with a Debit Card.
Select Account.After you card as been correctly swiped, select the account you want the funds to be taken from for payment. Checking or savings are the only options, there is no option for credit. Select an account using the keypad. See the photo below.
Enter Pin & OK.Wait until the instruction window asks you to enter your pin number. By going too quickly the ticket vending machine will slow down and sometimes freeze.
Take Change. After you have collected your change the instruction window will tell you to remove your ticket. This does not happen quickly, give it a few moments then your ticket will appear on the left of the change collection window.
My Ferry Ticket.The photo on the right shows two different ferry tickets, an adult Multi 1 weekly and an adult single. Click on the photo to increase the size and to see the details easier. In the example the weekly ticket costs $41 and is valid from November 1-11.
Remember that dates in Australia are dd/mm/yyyy format. The weekly ticket is good until the time of day you originally purchased the ticket.
The single adult ticket was $5.30. A return is twice the cost, $10.60. It is only good for that day of purchase. You can not pre-purchase a single or return ticket from the ticket vending machine.
Wharf Gates.Once you have collect your ticket and change from the ticket vending machine, you can enter the wharf through the gates. Remember a single fare ticket can only open the gates once at Circular Quay and a return fare twice, when you enter at Circular Quay and when you return. The neighborhood wharfs do not have gates on the other side.
To open the gates, insert your ticket with the magnetic strip facing up. The ticket will be scanned and pop up on top. If there is something wrong with your ticket, it will be ejected. In this case simply tell the attendant and they will check you ticket and open the gates for you.
Entry to Wharf.When you collect your ticket from the top after it has been scanned, the wharf gates will open. The opening of the gates operates on a timer, not a motion detector. If the gates close before you enter the wharf, you will have to ask the attendant to re-open the gates.
Network Map. Here is the ferry network map. All zone 1 wharfs area within the grey area. Manly ferry wharf is zone 2. For Taronga Zoo you can buy a combination ferry ticket and entry pass.