Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Charles Rosman

Interviewed by Nancy Johnson on 26 June 1996
Subject: ,

Nancy Johnson. The ferries you started here, did they run to the city?

Charles Rosman. Yes, of course, there was no bridge. I used to see four ferries in Mosman Bay loading to go to the city; this was the busiest part of the Harbour, except Milsons Point, where the bridge is built of course, now. There used to be one each side of the ferry at Mosman, one ready to load, and another one empty, and as soon as it went it started to load, and then another one would come in and take its place.

Nancy Johnson. Were they owned by other ferry operators?

Charles Rosman. No, all owned by the one Sydney Harbour Ferries.

Nancy Johnson. That was all Sydney Harbour Ferries. Was that the Government Ferry Company then?

Charles Rosman. No, a private company. They used to have one at the next wharf loading there, and then one down at Musgrave Street loading too, all at the one time as one would one moved out of the one wharf, the other one was coming in, and started loading there too, and they all went to town.

Nancy Johnson. It would have been the quickest way of getting there then.

Charles Rosman. It was the only way. There was no Cremorne in those days. I remember when Cremorne Wharf was built; there was no ferry wharf there for many years.

Nancy Johnson. Was that the one at the Point, or the old Cremorne?

Charles Rosman. That’s Cremorne, this one is known as old Cremorne.

Nancy Johnson. And that one was built first was it, old Cremorne?

Charles Rosman. The one here that we know now as old Cremorne that is a new one. When I was only a few years old – do you know where the Yacht Club is? A bit further along, about 100 yards? That used to be the ferry wharf. The ferries in the early days were paddle wheelers. They found that to turn around from that wharf, to turn round to go to Musgrave St they had trouble turning round, come over and turn in. So they did away with that wharf and it was turned into a place where they had billiard tables there and a combined boatshed and that sort of business there.

Nancy Johnson. Your ferries when you started those they were all timber when you started?

Charles Rosman. Yes, but they gradually got from the smaller ferries like 35 and 55, and my father had one half built when he died that carried 150. ‘The Rex’ was the name of it. It was half finished when he died. It is a long storey.

Nancy Johnson. That was ferrying passengers?

Charles Rosman. Yes, picnics and that sort of thing. We used to get a lot of Sunday School picnics from Concord, or Cabarita, Five Dock, Gladesville – we’d go to Balmoral Clifton Gardens, or Clontarf. A lot of boats used to go there, but people eventually got moved because a lot of those that used go there had drunken parties – picnics. They’d have two or three 18 gallons of beer, and they’d all get very drunk and noisy, and they used to finish up at Clontarf because it was a good wharf to pick up, and plenty were drowned and there was a baths there.