CAPE JERVIS – A new high-speed ferry service using a wave piercing catamaran, capable of delivering 95 passengers from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis in 30 minutes, will soon be operational.
Kangaroo Island Connect (kic) will be operating a 25 metre, Crowther-designed catamaran, ‘The James Cowell’, with limited operations commencing prior to Christmas 2017, but ramping up over the 2018 summer.
It will have the capacity to ferry up to 800 people a day.
The vessel is named after James Cowell, who died in 2003 and farmed on Kangaroo Island (KI) for more than 40 years. He was an advocate for competition on the crossing route of Backstairs Passage.
The operation will be based at American River and the vessel will leave American River every morning, operate between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw during the day, then return to the River in the evening.
Kangaroo Island Connect has also purchased the American River Airpark, aiming to develop the site into a sport aviation, scenic flights and a general aviation service centre at American River.
When the initial passenger ferry and aviation businesses settle down, kic is committed to establishing an integrated freight service between American River and Cape Jervis.
This service will specialise in the efficient movement of bulk grain, livestock and dangerous goods.
The family of David Harris, Managing Director of Kangaroo Island Connect Pty Ltd, has an unbroken association with KI going back to the 1920s.
Yankalilla District Council mayor Glen Rowlands said the state government and in particular the Department of Planning Transport & Infrastructure (DPTI) have been central to making this new service happen.
“It provides another option for travel to and from the island and our staff are working with DPTI,” Mr Rowlands said.
“SeaLink (current operator) runs a highly professional and reliable service and it is hoped the new service will bring more people to our region and we would like these visitors to stay. My biggest plea is for the upper levels of government to support an upgrade on the Myponga/Yankalilla road and to get a new bus service to and from Adelaide. It is a spin off we could receive for our region from the new ferry service, as it was what we need.”
SeaLink operates two ocean-going catamaran ferries between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw. Services operate an average of four times per day and up to 12 services per day during peak periods.
One has capacity for 378 passengers, 55 cars or 4 coaches and 42 cars and the other 243 passengers, 53 cars or 8 semi-trailers and 18 cars.