At the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, you can find Cockatoo Island, the largest island in Sydney Harbour. Filled with mechanical structure, this island is an historic place about the convict life on the island. In 2010, parts of Cockatoo Island were even inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Before 1839, the island was covered with red gums trees and was thought to be a great fishing spot for the natives. Years later, Cockatoo Island became the site of a penal establishment to alleviate overcrowding on Nordfolk Island. The convicts built the prison barracks, a military guardhouse and official residences. Between 1930 and 1945, during WWII, The Royal Navy used the island as a shipbuilding and dockyard facility and it was even the construction site of Australia's first steel warship. The island's maritime activity ceased in 1992 and it reopened to the public in 2007.
If you want to learn more about Cockatoo Island, stories about convict life and some of the fascinating characters that lived there, the island offers several tour options that should be booked one week prior to avoid disappointment.
Self-guided Audio Tour: 90 minutes, $5-$8
On-demand Guided Tour: 60 or 90 mins, $16 ($12 for pensioners)
Things To Do
The best way to experience the island is to simply walk around. We advise you to do the walking track. You'll see the Industrial Precinct, the Docks Precinct, the Historic Resident Precinct, the Ship Design Precinct and the Convict Precinct and enjoy an amazing view of the harbour during your walk. If you want to know more about the history of the Island, you can go to the little cinema that shows interesting videos about the life on the Island. Interesting there's also a tennis court and a basketball court - you'll need to book in advance. You can also stay at Cockatoo Island for a night or several!
Staying At Cockatoo Island
If you want to enjoy a little more of Cockatoo Island, you can stay for several nights. You can stay at their premium campsite on the North side and hire any equipment you need. You can also rent an apartment or a heritage holiday house for something more premium. Again it's a good idea to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Cockatoo Island is great for tourists and history lovers thanks to the tours. The island is also kid-friendly but be careful because it's easy to get lost, so keep a close eye on the younger ones. Also a nice option for couples; something different and unique. A great idea for team building and a destination for corporate events with the option to hire out spaces. It's also a great location for wedding celebrations thanks to the Biloela House Lawn where the covered terrace is able to accommodate 80 seated guests or 100 standing guests.
Food & Drink
Cockatoo Island provides several picninc places and there are areas where you can have a barbecue. Near the wharf, you'll find Societe Overboard where they provide good comfort food options such as burgers or fish & chips. At the opposite of the Island the Marina Cafe & Bar offers tasty pizzas, nachos and even vegeterian foods.
Cockatoo Island has all the main amenties for such an isolated location. You'll find picnic tables by the kiosk near the wharf, public BBQ's in Memorial Park and several toilets.
To get to Cockatoo Island there are 2 options:
By Ferry: 23 minutes from Circular Quay
By Water Taxi: Quite expensive but then you aren't constrained to set times.