The vehicular ferry between Mortlake and Putney was opened on 16 May 1928.  The service was established to serve the factory areas of Mortlake. The ferry opening pre-dated the nearby Ryde Bridge which opened in 1935, and it was one of several vehicular ferries operating across the Parramatta River at the time.
The Mortlake Ferry is one of ten remaining vehicular cable ferries in New South Wales, and the only one still in use on Sydney Harbour or its tributaries. While carrying much less traffic than it has in the past, the ferry still operates daily and is protected by a heritage order by the National Trust of Australia.
Sign announcing the Mortlake Approach to the Ferry
The ferry is operated by a private sector operator under contract to New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), carries a maximum of 15 cars plus passengers at a time, and is free of tolls. The crossing is some 300 metres (980 ft) in length and takes approximately 5 minutes. The ferry operates on demand on weekdays from 0645 to 0925 and 1445 to 1815; on weekends and public holidays it operates every half-hour from 1030 to 1730 from Mortlake and from 1045 from Putney. The 1245 weekend service runs ten minutes earlier from Putney (at 1235), and 1300 service five minutes later from Mortlake (at 1305) to provide a short lunchtime break.
The ferry has magenta flashing lights on the ferry and at both end points when it is in operation. Sydney Ferries services must grant right of way to the Mortlake Ferry unless they have established radio contact and agreed on priority.