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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
General: Cockatoo Island remains open with a few exceptions. The Visitor centre is currently closed (except for accommodation bookings) and audio tour headsets are temporarily unavailable; however, please pick up a free map outside the Visitor Centre to assist with your self guided visit. 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.
Biennale of Sydney: The Biennale is open from 10am to 4pm daily. Due to varying weather conditions, and in order to maintain the safety and condition of artworks, some exhibition spaces may be closed. Check for updates on the Biennale of Sydney website when planning your visit.
Tunnels: The Campground Tunnel is currently closed to the public and Dogleg Tunnel is being used as an exhibition space for the Biennale of Sydney. Visitors wishing to access the Docks Precinct, including the Marina Café and Bar, can do so via the Eastern Apron and Industrial Precinct.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
Stay for the day, overnight or longer!
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.
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.
Pack a meal and ascend to Biloela Lawn in the Historic Residence Precinct for unspoilt vistas. Alternatively, take advantage of the lower island’s barbeque facilities, shaded seating and sprawling green space.
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.
Located in Biloela House on the upper plateau, Shipyard Stories is an exhibition of archival imagery celebrating the island’s storied maritime history.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
In addition to offering regular tours, Cockatoo Island hosts seasonal events...
Cockatoo Island is being reimagined as an immersive contemporary art space for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. Between 16 June 2020 and 6 September 2020, visitors to the island are invited to engage with a series of public artworks, anchored in this year’s theme: NIRIN.
Image credit: Lisa Reihana, In Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015–17, (detail) ultra HD video, colour, 7.1 sound, 64 mins, Courtesy the artist and New Zealand at Venice
Cockatoo Island hosts a range of free and ticketed seasonal events including live music performances, school holiday activities, historic crane demonstrations, New Year's Eve celebrations and more. Check out our what's on directory to see what's coming up...
Our family-friendly cafés are both licensed to serve alcohol...
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.]
Café menu available every day. Kitchen menu available Wednesday to Sunday. Last orders are 30 mins prior to close. To book a private function, contact the Events Manger on 0419 632 091. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1300 228 326 or visit the venue's website.
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.
Note: Kitchen closes 45 minutes prior to the end of the trading day. Dinner menu only available on Saturday night. For more info, call (02) 9555 5586 or 0434 372 260, or email email@example.com.
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.
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.