Seven Miles from Sydney a Thousand Miles from Care - Lost Manly Shop

Seven Miles from Sydney a Thousand Miles from Care

"Seven miles from Sydney a Thousand miles from care". Ever wondered who wrote this slogan that greeted generations of Manly Ferry passengers as they arrived at Manly Wharf?  
The owners of the Manly Ferry service, the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company (PJ&MSSCo), took out an ad in the local newspaper to run a competition seeking the best slogan to entice more ferry passengers on the Circular Quay to Manly run, and experience the elegance of the newly aquired mighty South Steyne ferry that had sailed from Scotland in 1938, arriving on this day, 1 April.  
The winner was a Manly housewife and we learnt about this when her granddaughter joined the Lost Manly group some years back and told us about it. Not the stuff you find in history books, at least not yet! But you will when we write our own Lost Manly history book.  

The Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company, (PJ&MSSCo.), was established in Sydney in 1855. The company was created to provide a regular passenger and cargo service between Sydney and Manly, a popular seaside resort located just north of Sydney Harbour.

In the early days of the company, the ships used for the service were paddle steamers, which were powered by steam engines and propelled by large paddlewheels on either side of the vessel. These paddle steamers were the backbone of the company's fleet for many years, and they proved to be reliable and efficient vessels for the busy Sydney-Manly route.

As the popularity of Manly beach increased, so did the demand for the company's services. In response to this, PJ&MSSCo. began to expand its fleet and introduced larger, more modern ships. One of the most famous of these was the SS South Steyne, which was launched in 1938 from Leith, in Edinburgh Scotland, where it was built, and quickly became an icon of Sydney Harbour.

During World War II, the company's ships were requisitioned by the Australian government and used for various military purposes, such as transporting troops and supplies. After the war, the PJ&MSSCo. resumed its regular passenger and cargo services, and continued to operate successfully for many years.

However, by the 1970s, the company began to face increased competition from other transport providers, such as buses and cars. This, coupled with rising fuel costs, meant that the company was struggling financially. In 1974, the PJ&MSSCo. was forced to cease its passenger services, and focus solely on its cargo operations.

Despite this setback, the PJ&MSSCo. continued to operate as a successful cargo shipping company for many years, and in 2002, the company was acquired by DP World, a global ports operator. Today, the legacy of PJ&MSSCo. lives on in the form of the South Steyne, which has been restored and was a popular tourist attraction in Sydney Harbour for a few years until government politics got in the way. Now she sits idling in an undisclosed private wharf in Sydney, waiting for her mighty return where she rightly belongs.

The Port Jackson and Manly Steam-Ship Company played a crucial role in the development of Sydney and Manly as popular tourist destinations. Its reliable and efficient steamers provided an essential transport link between the two, and helped to shape the cultural and social fabric of the region.

The blog title was a catchy advertising slogan won by a local Manly housewife, in a radio competition run by the PJ&MSSCo. to promote the South Steyne ferry that had not long joined the Circular Quay to Manly run in 1938, and turned it into a travel promotion poster to attract the day trippers from the city. It now a much loved piece of our local history. 

On 1 April 1938 the mighty South Steyne arrived in Sydney Harbour from Leith, Scotland, where she was built, to begin her lifelong service of the Manly Ferry run. She now waits idly at a non public wharf in Sydney Harbour, waiting faithfully to be returned to service if only the government would provide a public wharf for her to use for embarkation purposes. On the celebration of this day, Lost Manly is offering our South Steyne 4 poster set on sale.



Join our engaging facebook group where it all began:


Back to blog


An excellent story. Wonderful history. I will forward this to Friends of Sydney Harbour.
South Steyne should ideally be put back in service so as to provide a weekly historical run to Manly return. This could operate , say, each weekend. Just a thought. Would be a very popular addition to Destination NSW. This brings me to the Freshwater class ferries matter. These iconic ferries must remain in service. They are a part of the fabric of Sydney and its harbour.

Patrick Bollen OAM

Such a nice Historical story you have written there. I don’t believe individuals have any influence towards applying GVT decisions, but perhaps lost Manly could send this article to the relevant minister. What else can we do to help this ship back to use ?.

Graeme Curran

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.