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 as they discover the island’s spooky convict prison, giant cranes and historic ship-building machinery. There is an always changing and interesting program 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
Join a group tour for an hour to discover the heritage of the island and uncover from the top layers through to beneath the surface of this fascinating chapter in Sydney’s convict and early settlement history. On overview of the wonderful tales hidden in time are revealed on On Demand history tours ($16, $12 for seniors) or the more specific Convict History Guided Tour (book ahead).

Haunted Goast Tours
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 Saturday evenings from 7pm, their all-ages Haunted History Tours are 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!


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.

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a stay at Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour! There are a number of popular and quality accommodation options, which include beautifully restored heritage holiday houses as well as the world’s first urban waterfront campground.

For those wanting wanting to try island glamping at Sydney’s only permanent truly harbour-side glamping site, there are dozens of tents permanently pitched. Positioned perfectly for idling away the night in the centre of the harbour, watching the ferry lights flicker on, and the sun go down.

Getting There
Ferry: 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 the website.

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