Featuring an informative narrator, immersive sound effects and archival interviews with former workers and residents, this self-guided tour paints a vivid picture of the island’s bygone days across 26 audio stops.
You’ll learn about the poor living conditions of convicts incarcerated in the island’s former penal establishment, and the hellish plight of the young women raised in the Biloela Public Industrial School for Girls and the Biloela Reformatory. You’ll also hear about the feats achieved by the thousands of workers employed at the island’s enormous shipyard during the 20th century and the enduring significance of the island for First Nations Peoples.
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, Darling Harbour 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Parking spots: On-street parking is available near the ferry wharves at Woolwich, Greenwich, Chiswick, Huntleys Point, Drummoyne, Birchgrove and Balmain.
There are currently no disruptions to public access. Ahead of your visit, please check back here for updates.
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).
$5 per person (includes audio unit, headphones and a special map)
Note: The audio tour is available for purchase from the Visitor Centre between 10am and 4pm daily.
All ages: There is no age restriction on the audio tour; however, children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult as the tour contains mature themes.
Warning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: The audio tour contains stories (and may contain images and/or visuals) of deceased people.
Conditions: This tour involves a steep incline and some uneven surfaces, and it is not suitable for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. A moderate level of fitness and mobility is required.
What to bring: Suitable walking shoes and wet weather clothing (if needed).