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Trip Planner:   South Pacific  /  Australia  /  New South Wales  /  Sydney  /  Cockatoo Island  /  Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island, Sydney

4.2
#2 of 20 in Nature in Sydney
Island · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove River in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia.

Cockatoo Island is the largest of several islands that were originally heavily timbered sandstone knolls. Originally the Island rose to 18 metres (59 ft) above sea level and was 12.9 hectares (32 acres) but it has been extended to 17.9 hectares (44 acres) and is now cleared of most vegetation. Called Wa-rea-mah by the Indigenous Australians who traditionally inhabited the land prior to European settlement, the island may have been used as a fishing base, although physical evidence of Aboriginal heritage has not been found on the island.
Between 1839 and 1869, Cockatoo Island operated as a convict penal establishment, primarily as a place of secondary punishment for convicts who had re-offended in the colonies.
Cockatoo Island was also the site of one of Australia's biggest shipyards, operating between 1857 and 1991. The first of its two dry docks was built by convicts. Listed on the National Heritage List, the island is significant for its demonstration of the characteristics of a long-running dockyard and shipbuilding complex, including evidence of key functions, structures and operational layout. Cockatoo Island contains the nation's most extensive and varied record of shipbuilding, and has the potential to enhance understanding of maritime and heavy industrial processes in Australia from the mid-19th century.
In July 2010, UNESCO proclaimed Cockatoo Island as a World Heritage Site, and has been managed by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust since 2001.
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Cockatoo Island reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
928 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • Two of us weren’t happy with the thousands upon thousands of people at Circular Quay on a fabulously beautiful Sunday summer afternoon. So. We decided to catch a ferry to explore Cockatoo Island just....  more
    Two of us weren’t happy with the thousands upon thousands of people at Circular Quay on a fabulously beautiful Sunday summer afternoon. So. We decided to catch a ferry to explore Cockatoo Island just....  more »
  • i cant believe i just had my first visit here, its amazing a must do and so so easy by ferry from barangaroo. so much to see and learn about, stunning location, cafes, facilities, picnic options... 
    i cant believe i just had my first visit here, its amazing a must do and so so easy by ferry from barangaroo. so much to see and learn about, stunning location, cafes, facilities, picnic options...  more »
  • I thought this was a mixed bag, it is interesting to visit for the history as it used to house convicts and was later used as a shipbuilding place. Many old buildings are still there and it is... 
    I thought this was a mixed bag, it is interesting to visit for the history as it used to house convicts and was later used as a shipbuilding place. Many old buildings are still there and it is...  more »
Google
  • magical place, absolutely stunning. I injured my food and the island team drove me to my tent. they also offered a wheelchair. everything is accessible for wheelchairs,too. the history of this place, the nature. during our stay the seagulls were breeding ND therefore a bit aggressive, so not many cockatoos here. ferry leaves every 30-60 min to circular quay. nice BBQ area with grills and fridges with enough space. showers are clean. nights in tents can get cold here though. planes are flying right above it so it can get loud. they also have an island cinema uphill that plays movies at 6, 8 +10 pm. cafés on this island open at 9.
  • Cockatoo Island is just a short ferry ride away from wharf 3 at circular quay. The island is well maintained and quiet. We saw two cafes on the island, one located at the entrance and another one at the back of the island. Camp sites are located on the right of the wharf. The tents look new, there's a canteen, a few BBQ pits and toilets near the camp site. It was great to spot the sunset from the camp site. Took us around an hour plus to walk around the island before catching the ferry back to circular quay.
  • What a great day out, only 10 to 15min ferry ride from barangaroo. Area was old ship building and repair yard, it hasn't been in used and a great piece of history to visit. Small island which can be seen in 1 to 1.5hr, free entry there are camp-site and lots of amenities on around.
  • Fun day out to go out and explore the island. Been here a few times and it's still enjoyable. Cafes and vending machines available on the island. 9 min ferry ride from Barangaroo! Was quite cold and windy when I went so I'm sure in warmer weather it's be even nicer. They've got information boards with the island's history around and an audio tour for a few dollars. Plenty of tents for camping and glamping available with nice accessible showers and toilets too. Lots of stairs around to get your step count up and do some exercise. Came across the cinema near the the convict precinct this time around where they were playing kids movies and had socially distanced beanbags to sit on.
  • Great part of our Sydney history, spend the day or the weekend. It’s a great place to wake to our beautiful Sydney harbour. If you are staying be sure to have early dinner if you want to eat at one of the two cafes on the Island otherwise you can order BBQ packs ahead, BYO or take a ferry ride to a Harbourside restaurant. If you like a drink of a night, particularly when you don’t have to drive. You should know, this could be a challenge. Overall a beautiful spot, ammenities are great and plenty of tours available to book.

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