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Cockatoo Island Open Day

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Cost
Hours
  • Saturday 20 July
  • 10am to 3pm
Transport
  • Ferry 
  • Water taxi
  • Private boat
  • Heritage boat ride (details below)
Plan your trip
Get ready for the ultimate island adventure on Saturday 20 July. For one day only, we’re opening the doors to our heritage accommodation and waterfront tents. Plus, visitors to Cockatoo Island, on the day, will be eligible for an EXCLUSIVE discount on their next stay!

Cockatoo Island Open Day runs from 10am to 3pm. In addition to checking out our award-winning accommodation, we’re heating up winter with a range of FREE activities the whole family will love. There will be plenty of things to enjoy, including live music, delicious food and drinks and a series of expert talks about the island’s layered history and marine biodiversity.

Oh, and we haven’t forgotten the kids (or the kids at heart)! Throughout the day, they’ll have opportunities to witness mighty heritage steam cranes in action, search for dinosaur fossils, play historical games, connect with Country and complete our Convict Clues activity booklet!

Want to arrive in style? Hop aboard Sydney Heritage Fleet's 1902 steam tug Waratah to get to Cockatoo Island, just as the dockyard workers would have years ago.

While it’s not compulsory to register to attend, we encourage you to do so we can monitor attendance and cater for everyone.

Open house discounts

Explore our holiday accommodation and unlock exclusive discounts on your next stay.

Time: 11am to 3pm | Cost: Free | Location: Various

For one day only, we’re opening the doors to our heritage accommodation and waterfront tents to everyone! Check out our Heritage Holiday HousesGarden Riverview ApartmentHarbour View Apartments and Fire Station Studio. Constructed between 1915 and 1916, these charming dwellings are the perfect setting for your next vacation. More of a camping enthusiast? Step inside one of our Premium Waterfront, Deluxe Waterfront or Deluxe tents located directly on the harbour!

PLUS, attend on the day to receive our exclusive discounts:

  • Book 2 nights in our heritage accommodation and receive a 3rd night FREE.
  • Save 20% off a stay in our Premium Waterfront, Deluxe Waterfront or Deluxe tents.

Visit Heritage Holiday House 24B during Open Day to take advantage of these discounts (T&Cs apply).

Things to do

Take part in a range of fun, educational and all-age activities between 10am and 3pm.

Enjoy a historic steam crane demonstration (all-ages)

Time: From 10:30am to 2:30pm | Cost: Free | Location: Docks Precinct

Travel to the era when steam power ruled – and meet Cockatoo Island’s ‘Iron Giants’! Heritage steam crane demonstrations will run every half hour from 10:30am until 2:30pm. Plus: hear directly from a volunteer heritage crane specialist about the mighty iron giants, including how they work.

Buriburi Dreamtime Story with Gujaga Foundation (all-ages)

Time: 11am & 1pm | Cost: Free | Location: Naval Store

During this special presentation, Gujaga Foundation will share the local Dreamtime Story of Buriburi, the humpback whale. The Dreamtime Story of Buriburi’ is presented as an opportunity for audiences to consider the origins of Sydney Harbour from the perspective of coastal Sydney’s Traditional Owners. Plus: There will be some fun kids' activities available after the presentation!

Get playful with a dinosaur fossil hunt (for kids)

Times: 11am to 11:45am & 1:30pm to 2:15pm | Cost: Free | Meeting point: Campground firepit

Attention all junior Jurassic Park lovers: Ever dreamed of being a palaeontologist? Now’s your chance because we’ve turned the island into a fossil site! Joined by our resident dinosaur enthusiast, and equipped with binoculars, you’ll learn fun facts about extinct reptiles and search for their fossilised remains. Think an Easter egg hunt…but with dinosaurs!

Brush up on your history with a specialist talk (all-ages)

Times: Various | Cost: Free | Location: Various

Enjoy a series of bite-sized talks on Cockatoo Island, presented by a lineup of specialists including knowledgeable guides, volunteer restoration workers and a heritage architect. Plus, there will be opportunities for questions at the end.

  • Convict Courtyard Talk – 11am to 11:15am & 12pm to 12:15pm.
  • Docks Precinct Talk – 11am to 11:15am & 12pm to 12:15pm.
  • Turbine Shop Talk – 11:30am to 11:45am & 1pm to 1:15pm.
  • Heritage Boats & Restoration Talk and Walk (60 mins) – 11am & 1:30pm.
  • First Nations History Talk – 11:30am to 11:45am & 1pm to 1:15pm.
Complete our Convict Clues activity booklet (for kids)

Time: From 10am to 3pm | Cost: Free | Pick-up point: Information tent

Kids can channel their inner explorer and tap into their creativity with our free Cockatoo Island Convict Clues activity book. Solve riddles, colour in, journey through time and have a ton of fun! Collect your Convict Clues activity book and pencil pack from the Visitor Centre upon arrival. While stock lasts.

 

Marine biology talk featuring SIMS (all-ages)

Times: 11:30am to 12pm | Cost: Free | Location: Eastern Apron

Did you know? The Harbour Trust recently partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) on the Cockatoo Island marine restoration pilot project. Join a member of the SIMS team for a talk on all the exciting initiatives, now underway, to advance the restoration of the island’s marine environment.

Image credit: David Harasti

Historical games area (all-ages)

Time: From 10am to 3pm | Cost: Free | Location: Eastern Apron

Have some old school fun with our historic games area. Can you guess what games the island’s convicts used to play? No? We’ll, join us on the Eastern Apron and find out!

Live music on the harbour’s edge with Gemma Lyon (all-ages)

Time: From 11am to 2pm | Cost: Free | Location: Eastern Apron

Unwind with live music and stunning harbour views featuring Gemma Lyon, a dynamic Sydney vocalist celebrated for her soulful RnB blend. With appearances on The Voice and All Together Now, Gemma has toured internationally and performed as a backing vocalist for Jessica Mauboy and Eurovision runner up, Dami Im.

 

Cockatoo Island passport stamp-a-thon event (all-ages)

Time: From 10am to 3pm | Cost: Free | Location: Information tent

Join us for our stamp-a-thon event. Collect 6 stamps in your Cockatoo Island passport for a chance to collect one or more cockatoo stickers! First 50 children to complete their passport, and present it to our Visitor Centre staff, will receive a sticker sheet. But don’t worry – everyone’s a winner! Individual cockatoo stickers will be available to other passport completionists. While stock lasts.

Crack the code of the faded graffiti for the chance to win a camping voucher (all-ages)

Time: From 10am to 3pm | Cost: Free | Location: Dog Leg Tunnel

Love a good mystery? Put your detective skills to the test and crack the code of the faded graffiti in Cockatoo Island's Dog Leg Tunnel! Faded graffiti holds clues to a mysterious bashing, a rigged election and Communist activity during the Cold War. Can you decipher the cryptic letters? Share your guess during Open Day for a chance to win a deluxe camping voucher!

Awaken history with our self-guided Talking Object Tour (all-ages)

Time: All day | Cost: Free | Location: Various

Keep an eye out for our turquoise "hello" signs to speak directly to iconic objects, including historic landmarks, about their incredible stories . As you chat with key objects, you'll hear their stories and gain insight into the island’s First Nations, convict and maritime narratives. Plus, you'll receive helpful tips for your visit and have the chance to share your thoughts and provide feedback on your experience.

Heritage boat ride

Arrive to Cockatoo Island Open Day in style on board Sydney Heritage Fleet's 1902 steam tug Waratah.

Time: Varies| Cost: $20 per adult & $10 per child | Location: Pirrama Park, Pyrmont

Hop aboard Sydney Heritage Fleet's 1902 steam tug Waratah to get to Cockatoo Island, just as the dockyard workers would have years ago. Tickets are just $20 per adult and $10 per child (4-12 years old) one way. Pick up from Pirrama Park, Pyrmont (schedule below). Book tickets here.

Plus: For those wanting to experience a heritage boat ride around Cockatoo Island, there will be 2 special sails around the island. The sail will depart from the Camber Wharf on Cockatoo Island at 12pm and 1:30pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for kids (4-12 years old). Book tickets here.

Heritage boat schedule:

Limited spots available. Minimum age 4 years. 

Register now
Planning to attend Cockatoo Island Open Day? Let us know by registering your attendance!
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How to get here

Planning to visit? For a hassle-free experience, refer to the information below ahead of your trip.

Getting here arrow
Heritage boat ride

Arrive in style on the Cockatoo Island Open Day! Hop aboard Sydney Heritage Fleet's 1902 steam tug Waratah to get to Cockatoo Island / Wareamah, just as the dockyard workers would have years ago. Tickets are just $20 per adult and $10 per child (4-12 years old) one way. Pick up from Pirrama Park, Pyrmont. Limited spots available. Minimum age 4 years. Make a booking here.

Walking to Pirrama Park from the Star? View map directions here.

Public ferries

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.

Facilities and accessibility arrow
Visitor Centre

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.

Accessibility

Cockatoo Island is a former industrial site with cliffs and steep drops as well as occasional unmarked and uneven surfaces, voids, and trip hazards. 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. To help mobility impaired guests access the upper island, courtesy buggy car rides will be available throughout the day from the Visitor Centre. Priority works may disrupt visitor access to areas of Cockatoo 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.

Public toilets

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:

Emergency and security arrow

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).          

Visitor guidelines and FAQs arrow

Help ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, by observing the below rules, enforceable by our rangers

Conditions of entry

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

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, Cockatoo Overboard and the Marina Café & Bar. For further details, see: FAQs.      

Assistance animals

No animals, except for assistance animals (as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992), are permitted to access Cockatoo Island.

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

Mooring and parking arrow
Boat mooring

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 info@cockatoomarine.com.au. 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.

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. 

Eat and drink

Cockatoo Island’s 2 family-friendly cafés look forward to serving all Open Day attendees!

Marina Café & Bar

Location: Docks Precinct | Trading hours: 9am to 5pm

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

 

Cockatoo Overboard

Location: Near Visitor Centre | Trading hours: 8:30am to 7pm

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.]

Helpful links

Learn more about Cockatoo Island with these useful links.