Heritage and conservation register


Name of Item Wymah Ferry Crossing on the Murray River
Item Number 4301073
Type of Item Built
Item Sub-Type ****
Address **** Main Road 282 Wymah 2640
Local Government Area **** 
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
Current Use Vehicle crossing
Former Use Vehicle crossing


Statement of significance

Statement of significance The Wymah Ferry, built in 1946, is of Local significance. It is one of only two surviving ferries across the Murray River and marks the location of ferry services linking Wymah with Granya since the nineteenth century.
Date Significance Updated 28 May 2009



Designer ****
Builder ****
Construction years **** - 1946
Physical description Ferry-Vessel No. 81, the Wymah Ferry at Wymah, was built in 1946 and is mainly timber in construction. The hull is 10.7m long and 5.1m wide width. 4.95m long flaps at each end. (The engine house cantilevers have approximately 1.1m out to the side.)

The hull is made up of timber planking fixed to 7 timber frames that run along the length of the vessel. The timber decking has a 50mm camber running from the middle to the fore and to the aft. The base and sides are fleated with galvanised iron over bituminous felt.

The ferry operates between floating landing stages which are attached to each bank. The position of the landing stages is adjusted by hand winch to suit the level of flow of the river. The landing stage construction is similar to that of the ferry. The ferry appears to have been modified to suit docking with the landing stages.

Physical Condition
Archaeological Potential
Original condition assessment: 'The Wymah Ferry vessel sank in February 2003 at Lake Hume. The vessel is set to re-enter the water July 2003 after the installation of a new engine. The Strategy for Border Bridge Maintenance suggests that a major overhaul is required in 1998 and that the closure and sale of the ferry should be considered.' (Last updated: 17/11/2003.) 2007-08 condition update: 'Good.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Modifications and dates N/A
Date condition updated 17 April 2009



Historical notes After decades of inter-state debate over the implications of diverting the waters of the Murray-Darling systems for irrigation, the River Murray Waters Agreement was ratified in 1915 by the parliaments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth. The agreement, implemented by the River Murray Commission, had as one of its cornerstones the damming of the upper Murray upstream from Albury and Wodonga. When completed in 1936 the Hume Dam was the largest water storage in Australia and Lake Hume which formed behind it backed up water in the Murray Valley for some 90 kilometres.

Near the head of the completed Lake Hume lay the village of Wymah. Wymah had developed in the mind-nineteenth century as a service centre for the sheep and cattle stations which were the successors of the original Wagra and Bungil runs of the 1830s and for the agriculture which was pursued in more favoured spots. The district was populous enough to warrant a public school at Wymah from 1873 onwards until 1985 with a gap between 1946 and 1952. There was a ferry across the Murray to link Wymah with Granya in Victoria, probably from the nineteenth century. In 1945 Lake Hume was exceptionally low and the exposed pastures dried up in the long hot summer. The Murray virtually ceased to flow and the old Wymah ferry was grounded. A new ferry boat was designed and approved in May 1945 and successfully launched in 1946 after the river and the dam had recovered. This is the ferry which is still operating.



Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       


Assessment of Significance

Historical Significance The ferry is significant since there has probably been a ferry on this site since the nineteenth century linking Wymah with Granya. It is rare being one of only two surviving ferries across the Murray. It is also associated with the damming of the Murray to form Lake Hume whereby the range of operation of the ferry (ie, distance across the river) had to be extended. It demonstrates a continuity of development to suit historical changes in the river, namely the damming of the river.
Historical Association ****
Aesthetic/Technical Significance The ferry does not have any particular aesthetic value although it does have minor local landmark qualities
Social Significance As a by-product of their own inefficiency as vehicle carrier ferries have special community recognition. At most times it is necessary to wait, or in peak times, to queue to cross. This process involves considerable social interaction between passengers and between passengers and the ferry operator. Crossing a body of water by boat attracts interest and ferries become local social landmarks where people congregate just to watch the goings on. Unlike bridges, ferries have a social face, being the operators (a role akin to that of a lighthouse keeper). The ferry becomes the operator's home during his working shift and the operator is a member of the local community. The social significance only remains when the ferry is in operation. When not in operation the ferry becomes a historical artefact.
Research Significance The ferry has high technical and research significance. Apart from being one of only two ferries across the Murray it has design features which have evolved to suit its particular location. Because of its location at the head of the reservoir it has to operate over a very broad stretch of the river with a very gradual slope to the banks. Small fluctuations in water level can lead to great changes in horizontal distance. As a result of this, to prevent the ferry grounding, it is necessary for the ferry to dock with a landing stage rather than dock directly to land via a flat attached to the ferry. This is rare.
Rarity ****
Representativenes ****
Integrity/Intactness ****
Assessed Significance Local




Type Author Year Title
Written    1993  Government Schools of New South Wales 
Written  J Macdonald Holmes  1948  The Murray Valley 
Written  Department of Main Roads  1945  plans for Wymah ferry, 1945 


Study details

Title Year Author Inspected by Guidelines used
Murray Crossings Heritage Study  1998  Hughes Trueman Reinhold    Yes 
Oral History - Vehicular Ferries  1998  NSW Roads and Maritime Services     No 


Custom fields

Roads and Maritime Services Region South West
Bridge Number 5853
CARMS File Number 202.65
Property Number Ferry Crossing
Conservation Management Plan ****



Wymah Ferry over Murray River
Wymah Ferry over Murray River

Wymah Ferry over Murray River
Wymah Ferry over Murray River

Wymah Ferry over Murray River
Wymah Ferry over Murray River