A major drawcard is the UNESCO World Heritage listed Convict Site, which provides a window into the era when Cockatoo Island was a convict gaol (1839-69). Further highlights include a waterfront campground, licensed cafés, a historic dockyard, holiday houses and apartments, guided and self-guided tours and exciting seasonal events.
Known to Sydney’s First Nations Peoples as Wareamah, Cockatoo Island is just a short ferry ride from Sydney’s CBD. So, what are you waiting for? Plan a day trip or overnight stay!
Planning to visit? For a hassle-free experience, refer to the information below 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.
The privately-run Cockatoo Boat Storage offers casual berthing for private vessels at Camber Wharf on the island’s southern apron. To pay for casual berthing, head to Marina Café & Bar near the gangway. Overnight berths must be booked in advance by calling (02) 9940 0172 or emailing email@example.com. 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. Visit cockatoomarine.com.au for details and overnight bookings.
Street parking is available near the ferry wharves at Woolwich, Greenwich, Chiswick, Huntleys Point, Drummoyne, Birchgrove and Balmain. Check signage for any restrictions.
Temporary site fencing has been erected at Building 09 (plateau), Building 20 (plateau) and the Campground Tunnel on the north and south ends. It is expected the buildings will be ready for use by accommodation guests from mid-November 2023. We apologise for any inconvenience. Learn more here.
Tunnel 1 (also known as the 'Straight Tunnel') is closed for repairs. Tunnel 1 links the campground on the island's northern apron to the Docks Precinct on the southern apron. 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. The Harbour Trust anticipates Tunnel 1 will reopen to the public in late 2023. Learn more here.
Our Visitor Centre relies on the generosity and availability of our volunteers. While we endeavour to open from 10am to 4pm daily, we cannot guarantee the Centre will always be open. In the event our Visitor Centre is closed, the Audio Tour will be unavailable.
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 7am to 4pm and by security personnel from 4pm and 7am. 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 (7am to 4pm). Alternatively, to contact a security officer, call 0433 632 791 (4pm to 7am).
Help ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, by observing the below rules, enforceable by our rangers
Do not fish, do not smoke within buildings or within 5 metres of a café; do not litter 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); do not climb cliffs or on historical structures; do not ride or use skateboards, roller-skates, in line skates or similar equipment on Harbour Trust land. For further information, see: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (SHFT) Regulations 2021
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, Cockatoo Overboard and the Marina Café & Bar. For further details, see: FAQs.
No animals, except for assistance animals (as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992), are permitted to access Cockatoo Island.
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
Cockatoo Island features 2 family-friendly cafés, both of which are licensed to serve alcohol and operate 7 days a week.
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.]
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Located on the Eastern Apron, just opposite the Visitor Centre, Cockatoo 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 60 mins prior to close.]
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To order a BBQ pack, please click here.
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.
Eager to end 2023 on a high? Book accommodation at Cockatoo Island for New Year’s Eve and spend the biggest night of the year in the heart of Sydney Harbour! As either a camper or guest in one of our charming houses or apartments, you’ll spend the biggest night of the year close to the action… but far from the crowds! Not only will you get to stay in award-winning accommodation, you’ll also get to bask in the city's world famous NYE fireworks.
Journey back to Cockatoo Island’s convict and shipyard eras – or dare to step into the supernatural realm – with our program of guided history and paranormal tours. Our tours cater for different ages and interests – from history buffs and ghost seekers through to families and seniors’ clubs.
Bordered by landscaped gardens, Cockatoo Island’s holiday houses and apartments combine authentic heritage character with modern amenities and harbour views. Meanwhile, our waterfront campground is an opportunity to unwind in a spectacular outdoor setting and watch the sun set and rise on Sydney Harbour.
Want to explore Cockatoo Island at your own pace? Try our self-guided tours! Our Audio Tour is an immersive, 90-minute experience. Meanwhile, our Talking Object Tour harnesses mobile technology to bring historic objects to life. Look for the turquoise "Hello" signs to start a lively conversation with our talking objects.
Cockatoo Island is far from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD, making it an idyllic place for a picnic. Ascend to Biloela Lawn for a panoramic harbour view or head to the Northern Apron Park for free BBQ facilities and seating. Visiting with a large group? The campground kitchen can be booked for $250 and features shaded seats, BBQs, hot water, fridges and microwaves.
Visiting with kids? Let your little explorers tap into their creativity with an activity book, available for just $2.50 from the Visitor Centre. It includes challenges that encourage outdoor exercise and learning.
Enjoy a scenic workout with one of four orienteering courses, each commencing at Cockatoo Island's Muster Station. An initiative of Orienteering NSW, they cater for different fitness levels and experience and can be completed with the official orienteering map or the MapRunF mobile app (FREE).
Image credit: Tony Hill (photographer), supplied by Orienteering NSW
Explore Australia’s rich naval history with a guided ‘West of the Harbour Bridge’ cruise from our friends at the Naval Historical Society of Australia. Enjoy stunning views of the city's iconic landmarks and learn about the role of the Royal Australian Navy in protecting Australia's shores. Expert guides will provide fascinating commentary on the naval history of the area as you cruise past naval vessels, historic dockyards and important naval sites.
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.
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.
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 the Visitor Centre.
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 accommodation guests 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).
Cockatoo Island was a meeting place for Sydney’s First Nations Peoples during the 60,000 years prior to European settlement.
From the mid-nineteenth century, the island’s terrain was reshaped for different uses. It was the site of a convict gaol from 1839 to 1869 and a major shipbuilding and repair facility from 1857 to 1991. Additionally, between 1871 and 1911, the island hosted institutions for boys and girls. More recently, in 2000, an Aboriginal rights group established a camp on the island to support a land claim.
Cockatoo Island’s former shipbuilding and repair facility played a major role in Australia's maritime affairs from 1857 to 1991. Today, 17 steam-powered and electrical cranes survive from this era. Together with the island's remnant dock facilities, these ‘iron giants’ provide a window into a celebrated period spanning 134 years.
Looking to visit, stay at or tour Cockatoo Island? Here are some useful links.