Historical information

Commercially-operated boat tours on the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers in Melbourne were a major tourist attraction, especially in the first half of the twentieth century. A number of companies ran ferries and motor-launches to locations such as the Riverview Tea Gardens (1909-1947) at Ascot Vale, and the Hawthorn Tea Gardens on the corner of Power Street and Riversdale Road. One of the families which ran these services was Hicks Bros, which from circa 1921 operated a ferry service from Princess Walk (Melbourne) to Studley Park. This is one of a series of 17 black and white undated photographic proofs donated to the Kew Historical Society in 2013 by the Queenscliffe Historical Museum. The series includes images of individuals, tea rooms, ferries, motor launches, ocean liners and tugs.

In 1953, the owner of Hicks Bros was involved in an inquest into the drowning of a Ukrainian tourist on a ferry operated by Melbourne Ferries, a rival firm. In published reports of the inquest, reference is made to a number of photographs taken by Robert Irvine Atchison, part-owner of Hicks Bros. As the reverse of the photographs indicates copyright is held by the State of Victoria, the collection may have derived from that year.


Historically significant and rare image of one of the major tour boat services which operated on the Yarra River.

Physical description

Faded black and white photographic proof of a ferry, possibly one of a number owned by Hicks Bros on the River Yarra. The single storey wooden ferry has a wheel that is motor driven. The popularity of ferry services is indicated by the number of passengers on board.