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The Yarra River Shuttle Service
  • Hop off the shuttle at a riverside restaurant
  • Yarra Shuttle

"From the Yarra River you get a whole different perspective of Melbourne."

Vin Wright, District Chief Ranger, City and Waterways.

At the centre of a capital city of three million people, Melbourne's Central Business District bustles and buzzes at all hours. Trams compete with cars and buses, which compete with pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and skaters, joggers and even the odd horse and carriage; all of which move at a pace and with a purpose through the streets and lanes of this big, confusing city.

As a state capital very generously endowed with parklands, there are quite a few venues for quietude in Melbourne. One of the most novel, relaxing and interesting however, is the new Yarra River Shuttle Service, a ferry service that takes advantage of the wide water road that runs right through the middle of town.

Famously muddy, the Yarra River was the reason Melbourne was sited at the head of a big bay. In the late 20 th century, with a host of new public buildings, tourist attractions and a whole new residential precinct arising in what was once the city's docklands, the Yarra River has become one of the core thoroughfares linking the most interesting parts of the city.

With the Southbank dining, shopping and theatre precinct on - as the name suggests - the central south bank of the river, there has long been a service of small water taxis and larger tourist barges operating from a base at Southbank.

Until it officially commenced at the beginning of the summer of 2004, there has never been a regular ferry shuttle service plying the river and giving those on board the chance to use

it as a “hop-on, hop-off” transportation mode that gives them enjoyable and easy jetty-to-jetty access to the best of Melbourne's attractions.

The Yarra River Shuttle Service, managed by Parks Victoria, uses two smaller (25 seat) vessels, and new 60 seat vessel, to provide better linkage between waterfront venues, and to take advantage of the ambience of the river during warmer seasons. Between November and Easter, the Yarra River Shuttle Service operates seven days a week and runs every half hour between 11am-5pm Monday-Thursday, and between 10am-8pm Friday to Sunday, and on public holidays.

Vin Wright, District Chief Ranger, City and Waterways, explains that in buying a day ticket, those using the river shuttle can hop on and off the craft as many times as they like.

What makes the service so practical as a tourism vehicle, especially for first-time visitors to Melbourne, he says, is that it arrives every half hour at eight different stops up and down the river. The stops include Federation Square and Southbank, close to the city's most important leisure precinct as well as its major art galleries, theatres and the Melbourne Information Centre.

It then stops at the Melbourne Aquarium which, with 10,000 aquatic creatures, is Australia's only Southern Ocean specialist aquarium. Then it crosses the river to the extraordinary Crown Entertainment Complex with its casino, hotels and luxury shopping centre.

The next downstream stop is the Melbourne Exhibition Centre which is often hosting a major trade exhibition.

From there, the shuttle service enters a whole new realm of cosmopolitan Melbourne, the Docklands precinct, which has added a modern new residential, business, sport and play dimension to the city.

The Shuttle stops three times within Docklands; at Yarra's Edge, at Waterfront City / NewQuay where there are some delightful restaurants, and at Victoria Harbour, which similarly offers a range of sophisticated food venues and waterside promenades.

Vin Wright explains that a Yarra Shuttle day ticket ($9 per adult), is often linked to value-adding or discount options at many of the retail, entertainment or dining venues along the Yarra.

"Seeing Melbourne from the water gives you a different perspective of the Central Business District,” he says. “You get to see the city views from an uncluttered, unobscured view."

"We find that a high percentage of our patrons are young families and international tourists who would, I'm sure, find it an easy place to start any tour of Melbourne," said Vin.

"It's a very relaxing way to become oriented in Melbourne and to experience the city from a very different point of view."

For further information on the Yarra River Shuttle Service please contact Parks Victoria info@parks.vic.gov.au or visit our website: http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/.

About the author
Parks Victoria wrote this article

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