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Learn at Cockatoo Island

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Featuring heritage buildings and landmarks from different eras, Cockatoo Island is a great place for children and teenagers alike to deepen their knowledge of Australia’s historical narrative.

Our school and vacation care programs are an opportunity for the next generation to develop their historical enquiry skills, exercise their imagination, participate in outdoor activities and form lasting friendships.

Spring school holidays program

The Harbour Trust is celebrating the spring school holidays (18 September to 3 October) with an online arts and craft program for kids of all ages!

To coincide with Biodiversity Month, we’ve curated a selection of fun activities that celebrate Aussie wildlife. This includes a FREE watercolour painting tutorial for kids. Hosted by illustrator Carlie Edwards (Earthdrawn Studio), this EXCLUSIVE online class is an opportunity for kids to channel their creativity into a painting of a cockatoo.

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360-degree tour

We have transformed our popular 'Convict Times' excursion into the 'Convicts, Crimes & Cockatoo Island' 360-degree tour...

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. 

Convict Times Virtual Excursion Cockatoo Island 650X550

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

School programs

Escape the classroom and head to Cockatoo Island with your students for an memorable learning experience...

Primary school

Our interactive primary school programs – Convict Times and Then, Now and Tomorrow – are an opportunity for students to learn about the historical significance of Cockatoo Island as they engage in dress up and role-play, and interact with artefacts from different eras.

High school

Our interactive high school programs – Social and Maritime Case Study and History Site Study – are an opportunity for students, including those studying for the HSC, to consider the history of Cockatoo Island from multiple viewpoints and hone their historical enquiry and writing skills.

Camping trips

Owing to its layered history, Cockatoo Island is the perfect camping spot for school, scout and youth groups.

Enrich your next school excursion with an overnight stay in our waterfront campground, situated alongside Cockatoo Island’s historic Industrial, Docks and Convict Precincts.

Camping Tents Cockatoo Island Sydney 650X550

Vacation care

Available during the NSW school holidays, our vacation care program combines outdoor exploration, historical learning and fun activities.

Children will learn about the Island's storied past, including the golden maritime era, as they engage in fun games such as historical roleplay. They will also get to tap into their creativity as they construct ships using LEGO and recyclable materials.

Vacation Care Cockatoo Island 650X550

Unguided visits

We welcome school groups wishing to embark on a self-guided tour of Cockatoo Island... 

Ahead of your excursion, please register your scheduled visit using the form on this page. The information you share with us will be communicated to our rangers and visitor service staff so they can, in turn, ensure your visit is safe and enjoyable. 

School Group Cockatoo Island Entrance Sydney 650X550

Kids Corner

Looking for ways to bust boredom outside the classroom? Check out the Harbour Trust's Kids Corner – a one-stop-shop for FREE activity sheets including DIY projects!

Kids (and kids at heart) can channel their creativity into a selection of activity sheets, including colouring in sheets, crosswords, construction sheets, science experiments. Activities include a First Nations card game and a nature scavenger hunt as well as instructions for creating a paper cup phone and a toothpick torpedo. Check out all 30 sheets!

Two Kids Colouring In Sheet Cockatoo Island 650X550