Explore Cockatoo Island

  • Kids

Cockatoo Island is a magnificent island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Once a convict prison and a dockyard for shipbuilding, today Cockatoo Island features immense industrial workshops, prison barracks, underground grain silos, tunnels and two magnificent docks.

The island has lots of activities for families such as guided tours, sports, picnic spots, glamourous tents, cafes, and amazing views of Sydney Harbour. Kids will love exploring Cockatoo Island as they discover the island’s spooky convict prison, giant cranes and historic ship-building machinery. There is an always changing and interesting program of kid’s activities, including self-guided activity trails, and guided workshop programs. There are also lots of room to run around and plenty of interesting nooks and crannies for adventurous kids to explore. 

Guided Group Tours

Cockatoo Island tours
There is so much to uncover on a Cockatoo Island guided group tour!

Join a Cockatoo Island Group Tour to discover the heritage landmarks with a knowledgeable guide and delve into the different layers of Sydney's early settlement, convict and dockyard history. There are three day tours to choose from, and each has its own distinct theme: Convict Precinct Tour, Lower Island Tour (accessible) and Sandstone to Steel Tour. Tickets start from just $16. 

Dark Past Tour

Dark Past Tours Cockatoo Island
If you love a bit of spook, you'll love Cockatoo Island's Dark Past Tour.

Secrets. Scandals. Skeletons... Cockatoo Island has its fair share of all three. Now a vibrant cultural destination, this one-time convict penal establishment is still haunted by its history. Running select Saturday evenings from 6.30 pm, their all-ages Dark Past Tour is an exciting opportunity for you and your family to experience Cockatoo Island’s most atmospheric landmarks, including the convict workshops and gaol, the grain silos, Dog Leg Tunnel and Biloela House. Plus, our guide will captivate your imagination as they masterfully blend history with mystery!


Cockatoo Island things to do
A spot of tennis on Cockatoo Island, anyone?

Grass Court Tennis
Located on the upper island, with stunning views of Sydney Harbour, our grass tennis court will make you feel like the king or queen of swing!
Cost: $20/hour

Outdoor Basketball
Shoot some hoops and practice your dribbling at our harbour-side basketball court, located a short distance from the ferry wharf.
Cost: Basketballs can be hired from the Visitor Centre for $5

Novelty-size Chess
Play a game on our giant, outdoor chess board, surrounded by Sydney Harbour! Head to the island’s eastern apron, it’s your move.


Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island is the perfect destination for your next family getaway.

In need of a family getaway or staycation? Book accommodation on Cockatoo Island and enjoy a holiday at the heart of Sydney Harbour.

Bordered by landscaped gardens, Cockatoo Island's holiday houses and apartments combine authentic heritage character with modern amenities and harbour views. Meanwhile, their waterfront campground is an opportunity to unwind in a spectacular outdoor setting and watch the sun set and rise on Sydney Harbour. 

Getting There

Cockatoo Island
Getting to Cockatoo Island is part of the fun.

Catching a public ferry is the easiest way to visit. Harbour City Ferries run regular services to Cockatoo Island every day of the week, departing from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo, as well as from wharves along the F3 Parramatta River ferry route. You’ll find the latest ticket information, including prices, timetables and purchase locations, here.

Other methods
You can also visit Cockatoo Island by water taxi, private boat or kayak.

Car parking at ferry wharfs
If you’re catching a ferry, you’ll find plenty of on-street parking close to the wharves at Woolwich, Greenwich, Chiswick, Huntleys Point, Drummoyne, Birchgrove and Balmain. The Valentia Street wharf at Woolwich is the closest stop to Cockatoo – it’s just a five-minute ferry ride away and has unmetered parking so you can stay all day. For more information, visit Cockatoo Island's website.

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