Punting on a sure thing
In a city renowned for its sprawling tram network – in fact, the world’s largest – there is another form of transport, perhaps Melbourne’s most unique, which many locals have probably never heard of.
Founded in 1993, the Westgate Punt has ferried thousands of passengers across the Yarra River from Spotswood to Fishermans Bend, and now, the service looks to continue for years to come as the Victorian Government invests $200,000 in the service.
The Westgate Punt was originally conceived as a way to help unemployed youth get a start in the maritime industry; however, the punt has evolved to become an integral link in the city’s transport network, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to travel from the city’s west into the CBD without crossing the Westgate Bridge.
Owned and operated by Rob Horner, the punt attracts more than 35,000 passengers each year, with the five-minute trip across the river setting passengers back $2.70.
With funding now secured, Mr Horner told Docklands News the Punt is here to stay, and he even has eyes for a new service that would cross Victoria Harbour.
“River punts were the first mode of transport in Melbourne to cross the river. Until settlers built bridges, there were punts. We are just keeping them going,” Mr Horner said.
“We’ve proven that it is a great form of transport that crosses the main artery of our city. Our passengers are constantly surprised of this perspective of Melbourne. We cross the main artery of the city, and when you cross it, it’s another world.”
“I proposed to the government years ago to put a punt service in at Docklands. It would travel under the Bolte Bridge from a low landing on the north side of the river, with two stops, one at Victoria Dock and at South Wharf.”
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll said the continuation of the punt was part of the government’s continued investment to improve Victoria’s active transport network to deliver better connections and safer options for people travelling by bike or on foot.
“The Westgate Punt is one of the west’s best-kept secrets and we’re ensuring more Victorians will have the chance to discover this unique way to travel,” he said.
“We’re proud to be keeping the Punt’s weekday services afloat – keeping active transport options available for inner west Melburnians.”
A schedule of the Westgate Punt’s weekday services can be found on their website or using the Public Transport Victoria (PTV) app. •
For more information: westgatepunt.com