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Primary school programs

arrow Virtual Excursion: Convict Times (NEW)
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Cost
  • $12 per student
  • Teachers and supervisors are FREE
  • Bookings accepted for groups of at least ten students.
  • Note: Price excludes cost of ferry travel.
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Hours
  • Available Monday to Friday by appointment
  • Programs run for 2½ hours with lunch break
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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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Escape the classroom and head to Cockatoo Island with your students for an interactive learning experience.

Our two primary school programs – Convict Times and Then, Now and Tomorrow – each support several key syllabus areas of the NSW Curriculum and have been designed to foster enquiry-based learning. Critically, students will have fun as they interact with historical artefacts from different eras and explore one of the most extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour. PLUS: We recently launched an online version of Convict Times to enable more schools to access this popular program.  

Convict Times

Available as an on-site or online excursion, Convict Times transports students (Kindy to Year 4) to the colonial era...

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.

Virtual excursion (NEW)

We have transformed our popular Convict Times program into a self-paced virtual excursion! This immersive online history lesson has been designed to activate imaginations and encourage the use of primary and secondary sources. 

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.

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Plan ahead

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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.

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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.

History tours (also available) arrow

In addition to offering primary school programs, we accept private bookings from schools for our our Haunted History, Convict Precinct and Group History Tours. To arrange one of these tours 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...