Louis Harding - Yarra River Ferryman

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Louis Harding operated a ferry service from Melbourne to Grange Road, Fairfield between the First and Second World Wars. Harding started small, with a second hand boat but expanded his service as business grew. His launches and ferries left Princes Walk in the city and would progress up the Yarra as far as Dights Falls. The falls prevented ferries progressing further up the river so passengers would transfer to a smaller launch, the Gloria, at the top of the falls and progress up to the tea rooms at Rudder Grange.

Harding's business prospered by the 1930s and he was able to greatly expand his business. In 1934 the 65-feet paddleship the Fairyland joined his fleet. With capacity for 156 passengers she was a substantial vessel plying the Yarra River.

The 1934 floods however caused much damage to Harding’s business. It wrecked many of the jetties he had built along the Yarra and left his boats stranded far up the banks of the river. In 1936 the Fairyland struck a rock in the Yarra and was beached. During the ensuing panic the boat keeled over, tipping many of its passengers into the water. Fortunately nobody lost their lives but less than a year later the Fairyland, caught fire during another voyage and was lost.

After World War II ferries gradually lost their popularity and eventually disappeared from the Yarra. However since the refurbishment of South Bank in Melbourne, ferries are again beginning to appear on the Yarra, although they have not yet returned to Fairfield.

Jones, Colin.  (1981). Ferries on the Yarra. Collingwood: Greenhouse Publications.