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Cockatoo Island

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Free Admission

  • Cockatoo Island is open seven days a week
  • Visitor Centre closed indefinitely 
  • Ferry
  • Water taxi
  • Private boat
  • Kayak

Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour, NSW

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Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage listed sanctuary in the heart of Sydney Harbour...

Known in the Dharug language as Wareamah, meaning ‘women’s land’, the island has emerged as an iconic contemporary arts venue, having hosted everything from the Biennale of Sydney (since 2008) and SailGP (2019) and live performances by the likes of Lorde and John Farnham. Formerly a convict penal establishment, reformatory school and naval ship dockyard, Cockatoo Island also offers heritage accommodation, a waterfront campground, a program of tours, family-friendly cafés and tranquil picnic spots with panoramic harbour views. Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cover Rivers, Cockatoo Island is just a ferry ride away.

Plan ahead

Getting here arrow

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. You can also visit Cockatoo Island by water taxi, private boat or kayak.

Private transport

Sydney Event Cruises offer private transport to and from Cockatoo Island for small and large groups. A luxury limousine and large charge vessel hire can be arranged for up to 300 people, enabling your group to arrive in style to Cockatoo Island via Camber wharf. Call Sydney Event Cruises directly on 0407 973 508.

Mooring and parking arrow

Boat mooring: Private vessels may use Camber Marina on the south side of Cockatoo Island. Pay for casual berthing at the Marina Café & Bar at the top of the gangway. Overnight berths must be booked in advance by calling 9940 0172 or emailing info@cockatoomarine.com.au. Most boats to 42' can be accommodated but there are restrictions above 30' length and 10m height so please call ahead to enquire about availability. Fees are $15 for 4 hours for a boat to 29'. Please visit cockatoomarine.com.au for further details and overnight bookings.

Car parking: Street parking is available near the ferry wharves at Woolwich, Greenwich, Chiswick, Huntleys Point, Drummoyne, Birchgrove and Balmain. Check signage for any restrictions. 

Disruptions arrow

Temporary closures (07/09/2020): The Industrial Precinct, Convict Precinct, Campground Tunnel and Dogleg Tunnel will be temporarily closed between Monday 7 September and Thursday 8 October to allow for the Biennale of Sydney exhibition to be safely uninstalled. The Marina Cafe & Bar and Societe Overboard will continue to operate as per normal. 

Visitor Centre: The volunteer-run Visitor centre is currently closed (except for accommodation bookings) and the Cockatoo Island audio tour is currently unavailable; however, please pick up a free map outside the Visitor Centre to assist with your self guided visit. We look forward to welcoming back our volunteer visitor service team in 2021. The island’s water bubblers have been turned off. Visitors are advised to bring a bottle with them or to purchase water on the island. View our dedicated COVID-19 updates page for further information.

Public ferries: Be aware that ferries currently have capacity restrictions to ensure safe physical distancing between passengers. If a ferry has reached capacity, you will need to wait for the next service with available capacity. If you are visiting on a weekday, avoid travelling during the morning and afternoon peak period. For travel on weekends, be mindful that ferries are typically busiest on weekends, especially Sundays. Consider these factors when planning your trip and allow for extra travel time. Additional shuttle ferries will run between Barangaroo and Cockatoo Island from 9.45am to 6pm on weekends only. For further information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website

Woolwich Wharf upgrades: Woolwich Wharf will be temporarily closed from Wednesday 10 June 2020 while the NSW Government constructs a modern, accessible ferry wharf for the local community. Ferry services will be temporarily relocated to Clarke Road Wharf (also known as the Deckhouse Wharf) during this period. People will be able to catch a temporary bus service (route 537), which operates in a loop between Hunters Hill and Woolwich, to connect with F8 Cockatoo Island ferry services. This bus service is in addition to the existing bus services operating in the area. People are encouraged to plan their trip by visiting transportnsw.info or calling 131 500 before starting their journey.

Further information is available on the Roads and Maritime Services (Transport NSW) website

Facilities and accessibility arrow

Island amenities: Cockatoo Island has wheelchair access, toilet facilities (including accessible toilets), vending machines, barbeques, showers, an Opal card top-up machine, a kitchen (for exclusive use by campers), free Wi-Fi (enquire at the Visitor Centre) and gold coin operated lockers. Located in the Muster Station, each locker contains power outlets for charging devices. Small lockers (20cm x 20cm x 40cm) are available $2 for eight hours or $4 for 24 hours. Medium lockers (30cm x 40cm x 60cm) are available for $4 for eight hours or $8 for 24 hours. Large lockers (55cm x 60cm x 90cm) are available for $8 for eight hours or $12 for 24 hours.

Island conditions: 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.

Emergency and security arrow

Cockatoo Island is patrolled by rangers from 8am to 4pm and by security personnel from 4pm and 8am. In the event of an emergency, dial 000 or 112 if mobile reception is poor. To contact a ranger during an emergency, call 0434 652 153 (8am to 4pm). Alternatively, to contact a security officer, call 0433 632 791 (4 pm to 8 am).          

Visitor guidelines arrow

Help ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, by observing the following rules, enforceable by our rangers:

Conditions of entry: Do not fish, skateboard and roller-blade; do not bring pets (except guide dogs) onto the island; do not smoke within buildings or within five metres of a café; do not littering or dump rubbish; do not erect gazebos or marquees (without a permit); do not operate remote-controlled vehicles (including drones); do not play amplified music (without a permit) or create excessive noise; do not undertake commercial activities (without a permit); do not hold private functions (without a permit); and do not climb cliffs or on historical structures.

Alcohol consumption: To prevent unsafe alcohol consumption and curb anti-social behaviour, alcohol rules are enforced on the island. Visitors (with the exception of apartment and heritage house guests) are not permitted to bring alcohol onto the island. Alcohol consumption is permitted at the island’s two licensed venues, Societé Overboard and the Marina Café & Bar. For further details, see: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).      

Frequently asked questions arrow

Can't find what you're looking for? Our FAQs page contains further visitor information. Topics include the consumption of alcohol, our bag check and photography policies, guide animals and the island's amenities. 


COVID-19 (Coronavirus) arrow

In recent weeks, the Harbour Trust has followed advice from the NSW Department of Health and the World Health Organisation and implemented measures to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff.

Full details

Seagull nesting season (NEW) arrow

Please be mindful that Cockatoo Island’s seagulls are currently in nesting season and can become noisy and aggressive if approached. Although we have taken steps to minimise the inconvenience for visitors, including accommodation guests, we encourage people to keep their distance where possible.

Things to do

Stay for the day, overnight or longer!

Join a historic tour

Cockatoo Island offers regular program of tours for people of all ages and interests, including our all-ages Haunted History, Crooked Character and Convict Precinct tours as well as on-demand audio tours and our adults-only paranormal tour, Ghostyard.

Stay a night (or longer)

Surrounded by landscaped gardens with sweeping views, our apartments and holiday houses marry heritage character and with modern amenities. Meanwhile, our campground represents an opportunity to sleep under the stars in the heart of the world’s best harbour.

Enjoy a picnic or barbeque

Pack a meal and ascend to Biloela Lawn in the Historic Residence Precinct for unspoilt vistas. Alternatively, head to the Northern Apron Park on the lower island to take advantage of free BBQ facilities, shaded seating and sprawling green space.

The campground kitchen, which includes shaded seating, BBQs, hot water, fridges, microwaves, is also available for group bookings of up to 30 people at a cost of $250. 


Pick up a kids activity book

Visiting with kids? Head to the Visitor Centre for a free activity book. Suitable for kids aged 12 and under, the book includes challenges such as Convict Clues and Ship Shape, which encourage interaction with the island's rich history. 

Discover Shipyard Stories

Located in Biloela House on the upper plateau, Shipyard Stories is an exhibition of archival imagery celebrating the island’s storied maritime history.

Shoot some hoops

Play a game of basketball at our harbour-side court, a short distance from the ferry wharf. Basketballs can be hired from the Visitor Centre for $5.

Exercise your brain

What’s better than playing a game of chess in your living room? Playing a game on our giant, outdoor chess board, surrounded by Sydney Harbour! Head to the island’s eastern apron, it’s your move! 

Watch movies

Located in the historic Convict Precinct, our Campground Cinema is an opportunity for campers to kick back in a plush bean bag and enjoy a free selection of films. The cinema can comfortably accommodate up to 30 people. Group cinematic experiences can be arranged through the Accommodation Team ($5 per person – includes popcorn).

Share campfire stories

As night falls, gravitate to the warmth of our campground firepit and share stories, both spooky and funny, as you enjoy flame-roasted marshmallows. Note: Marshmallow bags (including sticks) are available for $5 from the Visitor Centre.

Play vintage lawn games

A true test of hand-eye coordination and depth perception, corn hole is a game where players take turns attempting to throw beanbags into a raised hole. We also offer highly addictive variations on the classic ring toss game (Finska, Quoits and Hoopla) and Frescobal – a paddle ball game popular in Brazil. All games are available from the Visitor Centre.

Go kayaking

Make a grand entrance by kayak at Slipway Number 2 where the historic ships were once built. Kayaks can be left at this slipway, but please remember that items are left at your own risk so take any valuables with you. Kayaks are not available for hire on Cockatoo Island.

Feeling peckish?

Our family-friendly cafés are both licensed to serve alcohol...

Marina Café & Bar

Located alongside Camber Wharf, this harbour-side hangout exudes country-style pub charm. Relax with a beverage or coffee in the beer garden and take advantage of a diverse menu that includes gluten free, dairy free and vegan options. [Note: The Campground Tunnel is currently closed and Dogleg Tunnel is being used as an exhibition space. Visitors wishing to reach the Marina Café and Bar can do so via the Eastern Apron and Industrial Precinct.]

Trading hours

  • Monday to Wednesday – 10am to 3pm
    • Labour Day (Monday 5 October) – 10am to 4pm
  • Thursday and Friday – 9am to 4pm
  • Saturday and Sunday – 9am to 5pm

Café menu available every day. Kitchen menu available Wednesday to Sunday​. Last kitchen orders are 60 mins prior to close. Alcohol and coffee service ends 30 mins prior to close. To book a private function, contact the Events Manger on 0419 632 091. For more info, email enquiries@cockatooisland.cafe, call 1300 228 326 or visit the venue's website

Societé Overboard

Just a short stroll from the ferry wharf, Societé is an opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner – as well as a selection of hot, cold and alcoholic refreshments – as you take in an incredible harbour view. 

Regular trading hours

  • Monday to Thursday – 9:30am to 4pm 
  • Friday and Saturday – 9:30am to 5pm
  • Sunday – 8:30am to 4pm

School holiday hours (26 Sept to 11 Oct)

  • Monday to Thursday plus Sunday – 8:30am to 5pm
  • Friday and Saturday – 8:30am to 7:30pm
  • Sunday (4 Oct) – 8:30am to 7:30pm

Note: Kitchen shuts 45 mins prior to close time. Dinner menu only available on Saturday night. For more info, call (02) 9555 5586 or 0434 372 260, or email societecatering@bigpond.com. ​


Island history

Cockatoo Island’s heritage buildings and distinctive terrain offer insights into the complex and layered history of this former convict penal establishment, naval ship dockyard, industrial school for girls and reformatory. The island also has strong continued ties to the First Nations, having served as a meeting place for the Eora People prior to colonisation.


Virtual background

Stay connected with this extraordinary place on Sydney Harbour with our collection of virtual backgrounds, ideal for your next online meeting…

You can spend your next online meeting against the virtual backdrop of Cockatoo Island's iconic landmarks. Our collection also includes Headland Park, Woolwich Parklands, Sub Base Platypus, North Head Sanctuary and Macquarie Lightstation. 


CI Industrial 650X550