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Cockatoo Island

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Cost

Free Admission

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Hours
  • Open seven days a week
  • Visitor centre shut (See 'Disruptions' for info)
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Transport
  • Ferry
  • Water taxi
  • Private boat
  • Kayak
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Location

Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour, NSW


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Known in the Dharug language as Wareamah, meaning ‘women’s land’, Cockatoo Island is a former convict penal establishment and naval shipyard, located in the heart of Sydney Harbour...

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 such as the Biennale of Sydney, New Year's Eve and music concerts. Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cover Rivers, Cockatoo Island is just a ferry ride away (See 'Getting here').

Plan ahead

Getting here arrow

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.

Private transport

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.

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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 info@cockatoomarine.com.au. 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.

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. 

Disruptions arrow

New Year’s Eve closures: Cockatoo Island’s cafés and visitor centre will close at 4pm on Wednesday 30 December 2020 and the island will be closed to the public all day on Thursday 31 December 2020.

Visitor Centre: The volunteer-run Visitor centre is currently closed (except for accommodation bookings) and the Cockatoo Island audio tour is currently unavailable; however, please pick up a free map outside the Visitor Centre to assist with your self guided visit. We look forward to welcoming back our volunteer visitor service team in 2021. 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.

Public ferries: Be aware that ferries currently have capacity restrictions to ensure safe physical distancing between passengers. For further information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website

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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.

 

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.

Emergency and security arrow

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).          

Visitor guidelines and FAQs arrow
Guidelines

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: FAQs.      
Frequently Asked Questions

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

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) arrow

The Harbour Trust is following advice from the NSW Department of Health and the World Health Organisation and has implemented measures to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff.

Full details

Seagull nesting season (NEW) arrow

Please be mindful that Cockatoo Island’s seagulls are currently in nesting season and can become noisy and aggressive if approached. Although we have taken steps to minimise the inconvenience for visitors, including accommodation guests, we encourage people to keep their distance where possible.

Activities

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...

Embark on a guided tour

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.

Stay a night (or longer)

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.

Enjoy a picnic or barbeque

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. 

 

Pick up a kids activity book

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. 

Discover Shipyard Stories

Located in Biloela House on the upper plateau, Shipyard Stories is an exhibition of archival imagery celebrating the island’s storied maritime history.

Shoot some hoops

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.

Exercise your brain

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! 

Watch movies

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).

Share campfire stories

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.

Play vintage lawn games

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.

Go kayaking

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.

Eat and drink

Cockatoo Island features two family-friendly cafés, both of which are licensed to serve alcohol...

Marina Café & Bar

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 Wednes to Sun​. Last kitchen orders are 60 mins prior to close, alcohol/coffee service ends 30 mins prior to close.] 

Regular trading hours
  • Monday to Wednesday – 10am to 3pm
  • Thursday and Friday – 9am to 4pm
  • Saturday and Sunday – 9am to 5pm
Private functions

To book a private function, contact the Events Manger on 0419 632 091. For more info, email enquiries@cockatooisland.cafe, call 1300 228 326 or visit the venue's website.

 

Societé Overboard

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 shuts 45 mins prior to close. Dinner menu only available on Saturday.]

Summer trading hours  Christmas, NYE & New Year hours
  • Mon to Wed – 9:30am to 4pm
  • Thurs – 8:30am to 4pm
  • Fri – 8:30am to 5pm
  • Sat – 8:30am to 8pm
  • Sun – 8:30am to 4pm
  • 24 Dec – 9.30am to 4pm
  • 25 Dec – Closed
  • 26 to 30 Dec – 9.30am to 4pm
  • 31 Dec – Closed
  • 1 Jan – 9:30am to 5pm
  • 2 Jan – 9:30am to 7:30pm

 

Corporate events and private functions

For more information, call 0434 372 260, (02) 9555 5586 or email societecatering@bigpond.com. ​

History

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. In 2010, the island's Convict Site, which includes convict-built Fitzroy Dock, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List with 10 other heritage sites. Collectively, these sites are known as the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.

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). 

Aerial View 1944 Cockatoo Island 650X550