Hamilton to Stradbroke Ferry Service Forced to Close Amid Fee Dispute

River to Bay
Photo Credit: River to Bay/Facebook

A small business operating a fast ferry service from Hamilton to North Stradbroke Island has been forced to close just days after launching, with operators claiming exorbitant fees sank its operations.

River to Bay operates ferries from Brisbane River to the small seaside township of Dunwich with 30-minute and one-hour trips. However, the business shut down after  Redland City Council charged them a massive fee for using a public jetty on the island.

The company had already obtained a licence for $1,000 but claimed it was later told the fee would increase to $78,000 if it used the jetty more than 50 times a year, essentially killing its business, according to the operators. 

River to Bay operations manager Isla Toomey said they have asked Council to reassess the “exorbitant” fees.

The council has approved a schedule of fees that applies to all commercial operators using council-owned or managed jetties for business. The fees help maintain the jetty. The Council also said it was working with the operator and the State Government to find a solution.

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Stradbroke Flyer owner John Groom, who runs ferries to the island from Cleveland’s Toondah Harbour, said all ferry operators in Redland were feeling the pinch from these fees. Straddie Chamber of Commerce president Colin Battersby called for the Council to simplify the boat and ferry licensing deals and level the playing field because this was not the first complaint.

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In 2022, Mark Bailey, the former Transport Minister, criticised the Redland barge landing charges, which had increased from $72,000 to $136,000 for 2022-23. The charges were projected to increase further to $346,000 by 2025. Mayor Karen Williams justified the increases by stating that it was necessary to prevent ratepayers from subsidizing commercial ferry operators.

Published 14-March-2023