They promised harbour views and they delivered. Harbour views with clear skies? Well, that was a little too much to ask for. There's no doubting that the apartment accommodation at the Historic Residence Precinct on Cockatoo Island offers spectacular harbour views but you can also add it has some of the most amazingly unique history that Sydney can offer.
We arrived at our off-shore destination in a downpour with umbrellas blown inside out. The volunteers at reception looked sympathetic. We're then told that the entire fleet of the island's golf carts are out of action so we'll need to walk to our room in the rain. Mmmm, after some display of indignation, a truck materialises to takes us up the hill to our apartment. Phew!
Formerly the residences of the island's launch driver and coxswain, the three harbour view apartments are perched high on the island and as I may have mentioned, have views of the harbour.
Our one bedroom apartment is exquisite with tasteful modern furniture and artwork with connections to the island's ship building history. There is a small state of the art kitchen and a reasonably sized bathroom. You do, however, need to be an Olympic high jumper to get in and out of the bath. There's not much storage, but the apartment has all you need for a long term stay. It's stocked with plenty of kitchen implements, microwave, oven and stove top, washing machine and dryer.
The twin double doors lead out to your very own entertainment area and lawn complete with BBQ and those views. The evening sees dragon boat training and yachties taking their boats for a after work sail. The city skyline and bridge glow in the evening. The morning brings the sight of commuters on crisscrossing ferries and teams of rowers skimming along the surface to the calls of "stroke, stroke".
After a breakfast of more harbour views, the island's ship building and convict past beckons. Bileola House, built in 1841, is located right next to us and houses hundreds of images from different eras of the island's boat building history. It's exhaustingly, amazingly comprehensive. There are audio-visual presentations and, yes, more amazing views.
The Convict Trail reveals the outstanding Military Guardhouse with its slits in the walls where the soldiers could fire their muskets. The Mess Hall is where convicts ate their generous daily ration of one pound of fresh beef or mutton, twenty ounces of bread, and half a pound of vegetables.
We wave good-bye to the few glampers that are staying on the island. The Glamping Grounds on the island are substantial and those tents perched by the edge of the water are tempting but, look, I'm no accommodation snob, but why glamp when you can stay at the historic apartments with, and I think I may have mentioned them, incredible views.