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History tours

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Experience our program of guided tours, catering for all ages, interests and personalities – from history buffs and thrill seekers through to families and seniors clubs.

Whether you want to see remnants from a bygone era, journey into the supernatural or explore distinctive heritage buildings, our tours are an opportunity to discover what makes our historic island so unique.

UPDATE: In light of Government advice surrounding COVID-19, our program of regular, weekly tours has been suspended until further notice. For more information, view our COVID-19 update page.

Regular tours

Haunted History Tour (all ages)

Secrets. Scandals. Skeletons... Cockatoo Island has its fair share of all three. Discover for yourself with our all-ages Haunted History Tour. As you explore atmospheric landmarks, our guide will blend mystery with history to captivate your imagination.

Audio Tour (available on demand)

Journey through Cockatoo Island’s complex and layered history at your own pace with our engaging audio tour. Featuring an informative narrator, immersive sound effects and archival interviews, this self-guided tour paints a vivid picture of the island’s bygone days.

Ghostyard – A Paranormal Tour (18+)

As the witching hour approaches, embark on an adults-only journey into the supernatural realm with Ghostyard – A Paranormal Tour. As you search for ghosts, our guide will regale you with macabre true tales and unconfirmed sightings of ghastly apparitions.

Overnight Fright Experience (18+)

Make each Friday a 'Fright Day' with our adults-only Overnight Fright Experience! As the witching hour approaches, you’ll journey into the supernatural realm with our popular Ghostyard Tour. Afterwards, we’ll test your scare threshold further with a screening of a paranormal horror film. Finally, you’ll settle in for an overnight stay in our waterfront campground. Pleasant dreams!

Special request

Group History Tour

Available in a 60-minute or 90-minute format, our Group History Tour is a guided journey through Cockatoo Island’s complex and layered history, from its use as a meeting place for the Eora People through to the convict and maritime eras.

Seniors Club Tour

Accompanied by our guide, the members of your Seniors Club will have an opportunity to learn about and visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Convict Precinct as well as the location of the island’s former shipyard, industrial school for girls and reformatory.

School holidays

Convict Escape Attempts Tour (all ages)

This tour will introduce you to the brave, foolhardy and desperate convicts who dared to escape Cockatoo Island’s penal establishment between 1839 and 1869. As you explore the island, you’ll hear about successful and ill-fated escape attempts involving disguises, sewers, shark-infested waters, stolen boats and a volley of bullets.

From Sandstone to Steel Tour (all ages)

Step back in time with our all-ages history tour! From Sandstone to Steel charts the changing face of our extraordinary island. As you visit key landmarks, including the Convict Precinct, Biloela House, the Convict silos, the Fitzroy Dock and the Turbine Hall, our guide will share historical stories, including anecdotes about a colourful cast of real-life characters.

Crooked Characters Tour (for kids)

Kids and their families will get to know the charlatans, rogues, thieves and cut-throats who once populated Cockatoo Island, with our Crooked Characters Tour. This hour-long tour, available during the NSW School Holidays, is fun for the whole family.

Convict Precinct Tour (all ages)

Discover Cockatoo Island’s UNESCO World Heritage listed Convict Precinct with this tour of the upper island. Our guide will lead you through the turbulent history of the former penal establishment, stopping at iconic landmarks.