The largest island in Sydney's harbour and set at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, Cockatoo Island is 18 hectares in size and named for the presence of sulphur-crested cockatoos. Before 1839, when a prison was built to house convicts from Norfolk Island, it was covered with red gums and was almost certainly an Aboriginal fishing spot.
The convicts eventually relocated to Darlinghurst Gaol and the island had a brief stint hosting an industrial school for girls and a naval training ship for boys (but due to ‘unseemly and unscheduled meetings' the girls moved to Parramatta). However, the island was mostly used for shipbuilding and repairs; its several docks serviced the Royal Navy during WWII and was the construction site of Australia's first steel warship. The island's maritime industrial activity ceased in 1992, and Cockatoo Island only opened to the public in 2007.
Today, the island is run by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and remains commercial free, although there are talks of reintroducing boat building on a smaller scale. The trust run different types of tours – visitors can opt for a self-guided audio tour (90 mins; $5-$8), on-demand guided tour (60 or 90 mins; $16) or a pensioner tour (60 or 90 mins; $12). Those who want to stay on a bit longer also have options – there are camp sites, glamping packages, apartments or heritage holiday houses.
Mon-Fri 6.15am-11.37pm; Sat-Sun 6.45am-11.37pm. Camping: (02 8898 9774). $45 per site, $75 per site with tent, sleeping mat, chair & lantern hire.
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Things to do
Haunted History Night Tours
Enjoy historical walking tours with a side of terror? Then this is the guided haunting for you. Capitalising on the inherent creepiness of the industrial hallows of Cockatoo Island, these tours allow you to learn more about the convict, ship-building...Walks and tours Saturday August 18 2018 - Saturday August 25 2018
Things to do
Festival of Dangerous Ideas
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas lived a long and prosperous life at Sydney Opera House until 2016 (in 2017 the festival was replaced with the solutions-first Antidote festival). Now, under the leadership of longstanding FODI curators Ann Mossop, Danielle...Fairs and festivals Saturday November 3 2018 - Sunday November 4 2018
Things to do
New Year's Eve on Cockatoo Island
Want to watch Sydney’s New Year's Eve fireworks without crowds, traffic and long walks? Cockatoo Island offers an excellent vantage point to watch the colourful display light up the night sky, with accommodation included. You can camp, glamp or stay in...Fireworks Sunday December 30 2018 - Tuesday January 1 2019