Cockatoo Island is a source of intrigue and inspiration for visitors owing to its heritage buildings, distinctive terrain and panoramic views. Popular attractions include heritage and campground accommodation, waterfront cafés and picnic spots, guided history and paranormal tours, and exciting seasonal events. Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, Cockatoo Island is just a ferry ride away (See 'Getting here').
Planning to visit? To ensure your time with us is enjoyable and hassle-free, refer to the below information ahead of your trip…
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 island's southern apron. Pay for casual berthing at Marina Café & Bar near 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 call ahead to enquire about availability. Fees are $15 for 4 hours for a boat to 29'. Please visit cockatoomarine.com.au for details and overnight bookings.
Casual berthing for private vessels is offered at Camber Wharf, on the island’s southern apron, by the privately-run Cockatoo Boat Storage. To pay for casual berthing, head to Marina Café & Bar near the gangway. Overnight berths must be booked in advance by calling 9940 0172 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Bookings are not taken for casual daytime berthing and berthing is normally available, with the exception of the New Year’s Eve period. Most boats to 40' can be accommodated but there are restrictions above 30' length and 10m height, so call ahead to enquire about availability for overnight reservations. Fees are from $15 for 4 hours for a boat to 29' and $35 for vessels 30’and above. Overnight berthing to 29’ is $65 and for vessels 30’and above is $95. Please visit cockatoomarine.com.au for 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.
Visitor Centre: Our Visitor Centre relies on the generosity and availability of our volunteers. While we endeavour to open from 10am to 3pm daily, we cannot guarantee the Centre will always be open. In the event our Visitor Centre is closed, the Audio Tour will be unavailable.
Tunnel closures: The Campground Tunnel, which links the Northern Apron to the Docks Precinct, is currently closed for repairs. Visitors seeking to travel to the Docks Precinct can do so via the Turbine Shop on the Eastern Apron or by walking around the island's Western Apron.
Ship Design Precinct: Restoration work is taking place in Buildings 10 and 12 on the plateau in the Ship Design Precinct from 5 September until early March 2023. Access to the area around these buildings will be restricted, including walkways between the buildings and the ladies toilet. Please use the ladies toilet in the nearby Mould Loft until the work is completed.
Current and upcoming event disruptions:
We apologise for any inconvenience.
Cockatoo Island is a former industrial site with cliffs and steep drops as well as occasional unmarked and uneven surfaces, voids, and trip hazards. For your safety, mind your step, wear appropriate footwear, stay alert for vehicles and construction activity, and monitor any children with you. The lower island is generally accessible by wheelchairs and mobility scooters; however, there are uneven surfaces, and some buildings are not suited to mobility aids. Further, accessing the plateau requires visitors to climb stairs and ascend rises. The campground is wheelchair accessible, with a dedicated shower and toilet available; however, tents have a step to enter, which is not suitable for wheelchair access. Priority works and major events may disrupt visitor access to areas of Cockatoo Island. Check our website for details and speak to our visitor centre staff for help, including alternative routes.
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.
The Harbour Trust maintains public toilets at Cockatoo Island, and these facilities are listed on the Department of Health’s National Public Toilet Map. The toilets available at this destination are listed below:
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:
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
Looking for things to do in Sydney? Cockatoo Island is a scenic destination where you can engage with Sydney's historical narrative as part of a day trip or overnight stay...
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.
We are excited to be hosting Opera on Cockatoo Island: Carmen – an innovative Opera experience premiering in November 2022. Revellers will enjoy the modern classic seated in a raw, industrial setting – or moored in the world’s best harbour – with the opportunity to stay in our award-winning accommodation.
Journey back to Cockatoo Island’s storied convict and maritime eras – or dare to step into the supernatural realm – with our program of history and paranormal tours. Our tours cater for different ages and interests – from history buffs and ghost seekers through to families and seniors’ clubs. They're also a great opportunity to discover iconic landmarks, including heritage buildings rarely opened to the general public.
Key objects and landmarks have been awoken at Cockatoo Island… and they’re eager to have a conversation with you! Introducing the 'Hello Harbour Trust' initiative.
As you explore the upper and lower island, look out for the turquoise "Hello" signs to kickstart a series of lively and informative conversations.
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 use our free BBQ facilities, shaded seating and sprawling green space.
Campground kitchen (incl. shaded seating, BBQs, hot water, fridges, microwaves) also available for group bookings of up to 30 people at a cost of $250.
Are you a passionate orienteer or outdoor enthusiast? Explore Cockatoo Island – and enjoy a scenic workout – with Orienteering NSW’s program of orienteering courses.
There are four courses, catering for different fitness levels and experience. They range from 600m to 3.5km, meaning experienced orienteers can test their mettle while beginners develop their navigational skills.
Image credit: Tony Hill (photographer), supplied by Orienteering NSW
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. Bring a basketball or hire one 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 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) available for $5 from 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. Games available at 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.
Cockatoo Island features two family-friendly cafés, both of which are 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: Café menu available daily, kitchen menu offered Thursday to Sunday. Last kitchen orders are 60 mins prior to close, alcohol/coffee service ends 30 mins prior to close.]
|Spring trading hours|
Just a short stroll from the ferry wharf, Societé Overboard offers diners an opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner – as well as a selection of hot, cold and alcoholic refreshments – as they take in an incredible harbour view.
[Note: Kitchen shuts 45 mins prior to close. Dinner menu only available on Saturday.]
|Spring trading hours|
Cockatoo Island intersects the homelands of the Wallumedegal, Wangal, Cammeraygal and Gadigal Peoples, who inhabited the area for thousands of years prior to European settlement...
Sandstone buildings and other remnant structures from the island's convict era (1839 to 1869) offer insights into the conditions endured by people who were exiled to Australia and put to work on the colony’s ambitious building projects. Meanwhile, the Industrial, Docks and Ship Design Precincts – together with Cockatoo Island’s towering heritage cranes – offer a window into the island’s storied maritime era (1857 to 1991). Since 2001, the island has been protected by the Harbour Trust.
The Harbour Trust has launched a collection of immersive exhibitions on the Google Arts & Culture platform, meaning people can experience the island and other extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour anytime, anywhere in the world. Jump online and visit their collection to learn about the island's First Nations stories, towering heritage cranes and layered history.