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Cockatoo Island

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by Janelle (subscribe)
I like to participate in life rather than be a spectator. Music, dancing, theatre, travelling, food, cycling and walking are some of my passions. Writing is an enjoyable pastime that allows me to share my experiences.
Published August 11th 2019
From convict settlement to urban playground

Island, Sydney, Harbour, free, history, family, ferry, picnic, walks
Cockatoo Island (image JW)


Visit Cockatoo Island to see a historically significant site that is also naturally beautiful. Known as Wareamah 'Women's Land' in the Dharug language, Cockatoo Island has been used as for a convict penal establishment, a reform school, ship building and repair. In recent years, it has been a venue for the Biennale of Sydney, concerts such as the upcoming One Electric Day and as a filming location for X-Men Origins and Australian Ninja Warrior.

Island, Sydney, harbour, industry, history, family, free, picnic, views
Remnants of an industrial past (image JW)


Pop into the visitor centre, which is open daily 10am to 4pm, after a short scenic ferry ride to collect maps, an audio guide ($5 pp) or to book a tour. The information guide shows the five unique precincts of island usage. The convict precinct is one of eleven historic Australian convict sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Camping, walks, island, Sydney, Harbour, accommodation, tents, family
Camp overnight (image JW)


Cockatoo Island is the only Sydney Harbour island that offers overnight accommodation. You can bring your own tent and gear or opt for a camping package, a harbour view apartment or vintage holiday house.

Tents, camping, family, island, Harbour, Sydney, accommodation, views
The interior of the tents (image JW)


Accommodation, views, history, walks, island, Sydney, harbour, family,
Accomodation in historic buildings (image JW)
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There is plenty to do and discover here; one can take a walk into history, visit the Shipyard Stories exhibition at the beautiful Biloela House, play some lawn games or just soak up the stunning views. Bring a picnic or dine at one of the two licensed cafes, Marina Bar & Cafe and Societe Overboard that also provides pre ordered BBQ packs for campers.

Cafe, island, Sydney, harbour, views, history, family, food, drink, entertainment
The Marina Bar and Cafe (image JW)


Toilet and showering facilities are plentiful, there are vending machines for drinks and snacks, fresh drinking water, free Wi-Fi, and gold coin operated lockers with mobile device charging outlets. The lower part of the island is accessible for wheelchairs but there are some steep inclines and uneven ground.

History, free, walks, island, Sydney, harbour, family, entertainment
Aspects of the island (image JW)


Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cover Rivers, Cockatoo Island is a treasure of Sydney Harbour that is hidden in plain sight.
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Why? Take a ferry ride to a beautiful historic part of Sydney.
When: Open seven days a week, overnight accomodation available
Phone: Rangers (8am to 4pm): 0434 652 153 Security (4pm to 8am): 0433 632 791
Where: Cockatoo Island Sydney Harbour
Cost: Free to visit, tours and accomodation extra
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