Ms van Driel’s love of the water developed over time.
“I just love being on the water. I used to work on the whale watching and dolphin watching boats out in Port Stephens, and that’s where my love for the water started,” she said.
“I just wanted to continue that.
“I used to take the [Stockton] ferry to work, and I always had a chat with the guys that worked here, and told them I wanted to get a job back on the water.
“A few weeks after that someone told me there was a job going, I applied and I got it.”
Early alarms for a day on the water
Working on the ferry usually comes with an early alarm clock and a 10-hour shift.
Ms van Driel starts work at 4.15am, before the ferry departs on its first run just after 5am.
“The really early mornings are always a bit hard, especially the first one because you can’t really make yourself go to sleep at 7.30 at night.
“But then as soon as you get to the second one you’re that tired, so you’re pretty much asleep by that time anyway.”
The voyage across the harbour only takes about two minutes. Ms van Driel said she can make the trip up to 40 times in a shift.
As one of only two women working on the harbour’s passenger ferry service, Ms van Driel said the crew worked harmoniously to get the job done.
“The guys here are really nice, I like working with each and every one of them,” she said.
“I’ve never really noticed that I was the only girl working here, or we were both the only girls working here. It’s always just been part of the team, and we’re just one of the guys really.
“That’s one thing about working on a boat — you’ve got to work together as a crew.”
Maritime scholarship provides a boost
Ms van Driel said being awarded the 2017 Barker Maritime Scholarship from Hunter TAFE Foundation will help her pursue her dream of working in more senior roles around the harbour.
“I’ll use the scholarship to obtain my Certificate III in maritime operations at TAFE; this will then allow me to eventually drive this ferry,” she said.
“From here, I would like to end up in the wheelhouse driving the ferry.