Manly Cove hosts a small wharf with an exciting history

Most readers will be aware that at Manly Cove there is a smaller secondary wharf to the east of the main ferry wharf – ‘Wharf 3’ in Transport for NSW parlance. Many may also recall that for many years it was the location of the Manly Fun Pier. However, it has a much longer history.

When Manly was founded by Henry Gilbert Smith in 1855, he built a substantial wharf to give ferry access to both residents and day-trippers. Given the lack of road connection, as the population and popularity of Manly grew the wharf had to also cater for vessels carrying goods.

In 1886 the NSW Government built a separate wharf to the east of the existing one to cater for cargo vessels. The most spectacular use of this wharf was the unloading of the rolling stock for the new Manly tram service in 1903.

The two motor units and three trailers were shipped from Darling Island, now part of Darling Harbour, and unloaded by a floating steam crane. A temporary spur line was built on the wharf, connecting to the main tram loop, allowing the trams to be driven off.

In 1924 both the Spit and Roseville bridges opened and goods transport to Manly by water essentially ceased overnight. In 1929 the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company, which ran the passenger ferries from the main wharf, applied to lease the now redundant cargo wharf and build an amusement park on it.

Permission was granted and the Fun Pier opened in 1930, plus an aquarium alongside, located between the Pier and the passenger wharf. It prospered and expanded over the next 30 years but times, tastes and the power of residents were all changing. It closed for good in 1989.

Since then the wharf has had various functions but none as colourful as its Fun Pier days.

Richard Michell is the vice-president of the Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Historical Society and the secretary of Friends of Dee Why Lagoon. Visit and