Terms and conditions

Owner and operator's responsiblity

Owners and operators are responsible for:

  • The safe embarking and disembarking of passengers.
  • The timely occupation and departure from berths in terms of their allocated timeslots.
  • Operators who observe or cause damage to the wharves must notify Transport for NSW (TfNSW) within 24 hours in accordance with the reporting requirements of the Marine Legislation. In the case of major damage, the matter must be reported immediately to Harbour Control.
  • Operators who cause damage will be required to pay all costs associated with the repair to the wharves together with a 7.5 per cent management fee.

Public liability insurance

Vessels with a passenger capacity of up to 80 are required to hold $10M Public Liability Insurance while vessels with a passenger capacity of more than 80 require $20M Public Liability Insurance.


  • Access to wharves is broken into four timeslots per hour, commencing on the hour.
  • A timeslot is a 15 minute period during which time an operator who has made a booking has priority access and use of the specified wharf. Operators will not be allowed to book consecutive blocks (ie more than 15 minutes) for the same vessel other than in exceptional circumstances with the written approval of TfNSW and payment of the appropriate fee.
  • Booking details will be available to the public and may be subject to publication.

Payment of bookings

All bulk booking invoices must be paid prior to the commencement of the booking period unless otherwise approved by TfNSW or else those bookings may be cancelled.

Payment for ad-hoc bookings is made at the time of making the booking by either credit card or from prepaid credit placed on the account.

Prepaid credit can be placed on an account by way of:

  • cash
  • cheque
  • money order
  • online credit card payment.

The credit must be showing on the account before an ad-hoc booking can be made.


Bulk Booking periods

TfNSW defines a 'bulk booking' as a recurring booking that occurs at the same time on the same day for a continuous period of six months within a bulk booking period.

Bulk Booking periods are divided into 6 monthly blocks, in line with the boating high and low seasons. These periods are as follows:

  • 1 April to 30 September
  • 1 October to 31 March.

Allocation of timeslots

Commercial Vessel Operators may submit Bulk Booking Nominations by completing a “Bulk Booking Application Form” and by submitting it either in person, or by fax, mail or e-mail on the following dates:

  • 1 October: for the following April – September
  • 1 April: for the following October – March
  • Approved Whale Watching: 1 January for the following 1 June – 30 November

Nominations received after the due date may be given lower priority.

Where TfNSW receives more than one nomination for a timeslot(s), allocation will be determined having regard to the following general principles:

  • Public Transport Services will have priority over other services.
  • Existing timeslot holders will be given priority over new applicants for any specific timeslot.
  • Other applications will be processed in order of receipt.

Changing a bulk booking

Changes cannot be made to a bulk bookings timeslot, location or day once the bulk booking period has commenced. The nominated vessel can be substituted during the bulk booking period; however an administration fee is payable per bulk timeslot where the vessel is substituted.

Cancellation of bulk bookings

Notice of cancellation must be received by TfNSW no later than seven (7) days prior to cancellation of the timeslots.

If more than twenty percent (20%) of the invoiced bookings are cancelled, the remaining bookings will be subject to higher booking fees. The operator will also lose its priority and status as an ‘existing’ timeslot holder.

Whale watching

Approved operators* that operate whale watching tours are able to submit a bulk booking for the period 1 June – 30 November. The timeslots are to operate continuously for the entire season and are subject to approval.

Whale watching bulk bookings are required to adhere to the standard bulk booking rules in regards to any cancellations and/or changes.

*Approved operators will provide advertised bona fide tours specifically for watching whales throughout the whale watching season.

Ad-hoc bookings

Ad-hoc bookings can be made four months in advance by registered users of the Wharf Booking System. The booking fee is payable at time of booking.

Changing an ad-hoc booking

Ad-hoc bookings can be changed with 48 hours or more notice and a credit will be issued if the fee is less, or further payment will be required if the fee is higher.

Bookings that are changed with less than 48 hours notice will be accepted if it is the same time, date and wharf (i.e. only the vessel can change). A credit will be issued if the fee is less, or further payment will be required if the fee is higher.

Cancellation of ad-hoc bookings

Ad-hoc bookings that are cancelled in writing at least 48 hours or more before the allocated timeslot will have the fee credited back to the online account.

Unauthorised use of wharves

Where a commercial vessel is secured to a specified wharf outside its allocated timeslot, both the master and owner of the vessel may be guilty of an offence under section 85A of the Ports and Maritime Administration Act 1995 and may be subject to Penalty Notice or Court Action.

In the event of an emergency where a commercial vessel needs to use a wharf without a booking, the procedures outlined in the Wharf Booking procedures for emergency drop off of passenger/s must be followed.

Where an allocated timeslot is unable to be used:

  • The operator is to notify TfNSW immediately upon becoming aware of same so that it can be re-allocated.

Note: If an ad-hoc booking is cancelled in writing at least 48 hours or more before the booking time, a credit for the booking will be allocated to the operator.

Operators must not transfer or swap timeslots with other operators as unauthorised use of a wharf may constitute an offence pursuant to the Marine Safety Act 1998, Section 11 (4)(b) and subject to Penalty Notice or Court Action.

In the event that an allocated timeslot is not used and TfNSW is not notified accordingly, the following will occur:

  • Bulk bookings -TfNSW may cancel the bulk booking or reallocate it to another user, regardless of whether a fee for the remaining allocated timeslots has been paid or accepted. In this case priority may not be given in the event of future conflicting bids.
  • Ad-hoc bookings - TfNSW may cancel future ad-hoc bookings irrespective of whether a fee has been paid or accepted.

Wharf Booking System technical information

Session timeout

Each booking session has a reservation period of 10 minutes. If you do not finalise your bookings before the expiry time the booking reservation may be cancelled.

Browser compatibility


  • Internet Explorer 9 or later
  • Chrome 39 or later.

Acceptance of the Wharf Booking System terms & conditions

Please note, the terms and conditions for the Wharf Booking System have changed to the above. All operators are to be aware of the new booking requirements.