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Primary school programs

arrow NEW: Worksheets & Colouring-In Competition
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Cost
  • $14 per student (min. ten students per group)
  • $65 per class for 360-degree tour
  • Free admission for teachers/supervisors
  • Pricing excludes cost of ferry travel
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Hours
  • Programs run for 2½ hours with lunch break
  • Available Monday to Friday by appointment
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Transport
  • Ferry
  • Water taxi
  • Private boat
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Meeting point

Visitor centre, Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour NSW


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Looking for inspired school excursion ideas? Our tip: Escape your classroom and head to Cockatoo Island for a memorable learning experience...

Our interactive primary school programs – Convict Times and Then, Now and Tomorrow – support key syllabus areas of the NSW Curriculum and foster enquiry-based learning.

Importantly, your students will have fun as they interact with historical artefacts from different eras and explore one of the most extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour.

Unable to visit in-person? We recently launched an online version of Convict Times.  

Worksheets and art competition

The Harbour Trust has released worksheets to keep Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 students engaged during lockdown and give them an easy way to tap into their creativity.

Drawing on the history of Sub Base Platypus in North Sydney, our worksheets combine Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 English and Science & Technology Outcomes with a light colouring-in activity.

The release of the worksheets coincides with a colouring-in competition, with students invited to enter either a coloured-in platypus or submarine. The competition closes on Friday 8 October. 

Like Cockatoo Island, Sub Base Platypus is a heritage destination managed by the Harbour Trust.

Submarine Colouring In 650X550

Convict tours

We have two convict-themed experiences for primary schools. A NEW 360-degree online tour (Stage 2) and an on-site-tour (Early Stage 1 to Stage 2)…

Convicts, Crimes & Cockatoo Island – 360-degree tour

Cost: $65 per class | Available: On demand | Audience: Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4)

Convicts, Crimes & Cockatoo Island is an interactive 360-degree tour of Cockatoo Island / Wareamah that allows Stage 2 students to virtually explore our former convict prison (1839-69). Your class will discover what it was like for convicts to live and work at Cockatoo Island, and learn about the world events that led to the British colonisation of Australia.

Critically, they will gain experience identifying historical sources and assessing the reliability of evidence when performing historical enquiry. Students will develop these skills during the learning experience as they examine buildings, hear convict diary entries, and consider Cockatoo Island's living conditions.

This 360-degree tour includes a transcript to provide teachers with an additional comprehension strategy and to ensure it is accessible to students who may require or prefer non-audio stimulus. 

On-site excursion

As students engage in outdoor exploration, role-play and dress up, they will learn about the First fleet, the impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and the island’s convict penal establishment, which operated from 1839 to 1869.

Then, Now and Tomorrow

Students (Years 1 to 4) will journey through the island’s layered history with this on-site excursion...

Through dress up and role-play, students will gain insights into the major historical developments, including community actions, that saw the island evolve from a convict penal establishment into a vibrant cultural destination.

Primary School Tour Mess Hall Convict Era Cockatoo Island Sydney Harbour 650X550

Plan ahead

Public transport arrow

Ferries: The easiest way to get to Cockatoo Island is by public ferry. The F3 and F8 services operate to Cockatoo Island daily, departing from Circular Quay and Barangaroo as well as from wharves along Parramatta River. For further information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website.

Opal cards: If your group is travelling to Cockatoo Island by ferry, each person will need to be in possession of an Opal Card with sufficient funds. Alternatively, you can pre-purchase Opal One Day Travel Passes for their entire group. To arrange Opal One Day Travel Passes for your group, visit opaldaypass.transport.nsw.gov.au

Parking facilities arrow

On-street parking is available for cars near the ferry wharves at Woolwich, Greenwich, Chiswick, Huntleys Point, Drummoyne, Birchgrove and Balmain. The Clarkes Point Reserve Carpark (access via Clarke Road, Woolwich) offers parking for coaches and is a short walk from the Woolwich ferry wharf.

First Nations disclaimer arrow

Our primary school programs contain stories (and may contain images and/or visuals) of deceased people.

Island conditions arrow

Most areas of the island are wheelchair accessible; however, there is a steep incline from the lower island to the upper plateau, and – owing to the island’s industrial heritage – there are uneven surfaces as well as some buildings not accessible by wheelchair

What to bring arrow

Suitable walking shoes, sun protection, wet weather gear (if needed) and packed lunches.

Cancellations arrow

General

If you decide to cancel a booking, please provide 48 hours’ notice to avoid being charged a fee to cover casual staff costs.

Weather

Bookings for our primary school programs will proceed regardless of weather conditions except in the event that ferry services advise against travelling to Cockatoo Island due to extreme weather conditions.

Guided tour also available arrow

In addition to offering high school programs, we accept private bookings for our Dark Past Tour. As your students visit iconic landmarks and buildings from different eras – including the Convict Workshops, Dog Leg Tunnel and Biloela House –  our guide will blend history with mystery to captivate their imaginations! To arrange this tour for your class, please complete our school program form

COVID-19 safety arrow

School groups booked into an excursion at Cockatoo Island must ensure teachers and students:

  • maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from others;
  • have not travelled overseas in the last 14 days;
  • have not been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days; and
  • are not unwell and have not demonstrated any COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days.
Request a booking
To request Convict Times or Then, Now and Tomorrow for your class, complete our school programs enquiry form...
arrowEnquiry form

School resources

Learn about history, geography, biodiversity and First Nations cultures with our selection of resources for primary school students...

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Interested in visiting Cockatoo Island as part of a school excursion? Here are some useful resources...