On the 12th May 2014 the oldest commuter ferry in Australia working to a regular timetable, the M.V. Curranulla, will celebrate 75 years in operation on the Cronulla to Bundeena ferry run.
Operated by Cronulla and National Park Ferry Cruises, this grand old lady of the sea was designed and built by the well-known shipbuilders Morrison and Sinclair of Balmain, Sydney for the Cronulla ferry service owned by Captain Robert Ryall, and was purpose built for the shallow and rough water of Port Hacking. Curranulla was first commissioned on May 12, 1939 with a private cruise on Port Hacking.
At the time of commissioning she was the largest, fastest and most modern vessel ever seen on Port Hacking and could complete the crossing from Cronulla to Bundeena in half the time of the older ferries running since the service first started in 1915. Carrying up to 133 passengers and two crew, on 13 round trips per day, 7 days a week; the Curranulla has no plans for retirement.
She continues to be a vital transport link between the Cronulla and Bundeena communities. According to owner Carl Rogan, she has done an unbelievable equivalent of 32 trips around the equator. On most days the 20 minute trip between Cronulla and Bundeena is fairly routine however rough weather can make conditions challenging, especially with a southerly swell on a run out tide. Now days the service is cancelled in rough weather however on one occasion in 1985 the Curranulla was washed up onto rocks at Hungry Point after abandoning her run due to dangerous seas. Luckily the next wave came along and floated her off the rocks. She was beached at Bull Street Wharf in Gunnamatta Bay and a police launch kept her pumped out until the slipway at Cronulla was made available to perform the necessary repairs.
The Curranulla provides a vital and distinctive public transport link with Sydney’s southern metro area. Without the Cronulla Ferry Service, Bundeena would not exist as it is today. Until the 1950’s no road ran to Bundeena and the ferries were its lifeline. To this day, commuters and school kids begin their days and are welcomed home by the ferry and crew.
On weekend days, over 1000 tourists will step aboard the Curranulla to cross the Hacking and experience the beauty of the Royal National Park.
The Curranulla is slipped every July school holidays where she is repainted inside and out and the engine, gearbox and steering get an overhaul.
She is one of the finest examples of a timber ferry from her era and is a real credit to her owners Carl Rogan and family.
Cronulla and National Park Ferry Cruises will celebrate her birthday with a birthday for passengers to share in. For the entire month of May, Curranulla will be proudly displaying flags her flags as pictured below.