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School Holiday Program

These school holidays, escape with friends and family to the heart of Sydney Harbour!

Between Saturday, 6 July and Sunday, 21 July, Cockatoo Island will offer an exciting program of activities, including vacation care, historic crane demos, photography workshops and immersive tours. Plus, families can head to our visitor centre for a free activity book that encourages children to explore the island and engage with its rich history.

Our school holiday program is a great opportunity for children and teenagers alike to learn outdoors, make friends and tap into their creativity as they discover one of the most extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour.

From Sandstone to Steel (NEW)

Cost: $16 per adult, $5 per child (12 and under)

Duration: 90 mins

Dates/times: 11:30am and 1:30pm on select Saturdays (6, 13 and 20 July)

Meeting Point: Visitor Centre

Note: Online bookings are essential

Step back in time with our all-ages history tour! From Sandstone to Steel: A History of Cockatoo Island charts the changing face of our extraordinary island. As you visit key landmarks, including the Convict Precinct, Biloela House, the Convict silos, the Fitzroy Dock and the Turbine Hall, our guide will share historical stories, including anecdotes about a colourful cast of real-life characters.


Vacation Care

Cost: $12 per student, Supervisors free of charge

Dates: available Monday-Friday during the School Holidays

Times: 11:30am – 2pm

Head to Cockatoo Island with your vacation care group for an engaging excursion that combines fun activities, outdoor exploration and history. Your group will have fun learning about our Island's storied past as they engage in games (including historical role-play) in our UNESCO World Heritage listed Convict Precinct. Plus, children will have an opportunity to tap into their creativity at our craft table.  During the winter school holidays (6-21 July), our Vacation Care program will be themed around the Island's rich ship building history. Children will have fun building their own LEGO ships, colouring and constructing a HMAS Vampire replica and floating boats made of recyclable material in our miniature, indoor harbour.


Crooked Characters Tour

Cost: $12 per adult, $5 per child (12 and under)

Duration: 60 mins

Dates/times: 1pm and 3pm on select Sundays (7, 14 and 21 July)

Meeting point: Campground fire pit

Note: Online bookings are essential

Get to know the charlatans, rogues, thieves and cut-throats that once populated Cockatoo Island, with our Crooked Characters Tour. This hour-long guided tour takes families on a hilarious and fascinating journey through the island’s colonial and recent history led by your two hilarious guides Ocka & Two.


Haunted History Tour

Cost: $16 per adult, $5 per child (12 and under)

Duration: 90 mins

Dates/times: Every Saturday, from 6:30pm until 8pm

Meeting point: Visitor Centre

Note: Online bookings are essential

Secrets. Scandals. Skeletons... Cockatoo Island has its fair share of all three. Discover for yourself with our all-ages Haunted History Tour! As you explore atmospheric landmarks, including the convict workshops and gaol, Dog Leg Tunnel and Biloela House, our guide will blend history with mystery to captivate your imagination!


Audio Tour

Cost: $5 (available at Visitor Centre)

Duration: Approx 90 mins

Journey through the Cockatoo Island’s layered history at your own pace with our engaging audio tour. You’ll learn about the poor living conditions of convicts incarcerated in the island’s former penal establishment. 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.


Steam Crane Demos

Cost: Free

Dates/times: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm on Saturday, 13 July

Location: Fitzroy Dock

Note: No booking required

Travel back to the era when steam ruled – attend an upcoming demonstration of one of our vintage steam cranes! On 13 July, you can see the No. 2 Steam Crane in action. Installed on Cockatoo Island during the early 1900s, the No. 2 Travelling Steam Crane is amongst the oldest surviving examples of its kind in Australia. Located at Fitzroy Dock, the metal behemoth once played an indispensable role in the operation of the Island’s dry docks, placing props and scaffolding when ships docked for repairs. The crane operated on steam until the late 1980s, before converted to oil firing. Today, thanks to the Harbour Trust’s Volunteer Restoration Team, the crane has been restored to its former, steam-powered glory.


Photography Workshop

Dates: 10th & 17th July 2019

Times: 11am - 2pm

Location: Cockatoo Island with use of Huon Room

Young shutterbugs will develop their skills with a digital SLR camera and learn useful editing techniques during this adventure-based photography workshop, presented by the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in partnership with the Harbour Trust. Each child will receive print-outs of their photos and have their work exhibited.