Take Your Family On An Art-Venture This Autumn School Holidays

  • Sat Mar 14 - Mon Jun 08 2020
  • Family
  • $0.00

Between 14 March and 8 June, Cockatoo Island will be a hive of activity for NIRIN – the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.

There are plenty of  events to educate, entertain and enjoy with kids of all persuasions, from budding artists and scientists through to intrepid explorers and young historians.  

Make each Sunday a ‘Family Day’

There are a handful of reasons why Sundays are considered a Family Day at Cockatoo Island during Biennale. 

Thanks to the Sunday travel cap on Opal Cards ($2.80 per adult, child or concession), people can ride public transport all day in Sydney for less than $3. This means a family of four can travel to and from Cockatoo Island by ferry – and catch any connecting transport services – for $11.20 in total. How’s that for value!

Meanwhile, Linda Kennedy will run a FREE creative workshop at Biloela House on the Upper Island every Sunday, commencing 22 March. Between 10am and 5pm, the Yuin woman, architectural designer and design activist will draw on a mix of creative arts, STEM education and cultural practices such as yarning to engage families in a conversation about culture, history and politics. No bookings required.

Other Sunday activities include Microplastics: Citizen Science Field Trip (26 April), a FREE activation that combines art with science to raise awareness of microplastic pollution, and Our Path: Uncle John Kelly and Rena Shein (7 June), a FREE artmaking and storytelling session at Biloela House.

In addition, our popular Crooked Characters Tour will run on Sundays during the NSW school holidays (12, 19 and 26 April). This hilarious, hour-long tour introduces families to the charlatans, rogues, thieves and cut-throats who once populated Cockatoo Island. Tickets are only $5 per child and $12 per adult.

Ride NIRIN HAIVETA on Saturdays

Do you live in Western Sydney? Rosman Cruises are operating a FREE ferry service from Sydney Olympic Park Wharf to Cockatoo Island on Saturdays during Biennale. Launched in 1947, NIRIN HAIVETA (previously known as Radar) is the ‘mother’ of the Rosman fleet. She was in continuous service for more than 60 years and has undergone a complete refurbishment for NIRIN, resulting in a vessel that celebrates Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian women’s mark-making. Online bookings for NIRIN HAIVETA are required.

If you’re planning to visit Cockatoo Island with your family on Saturday 6 June, head to Biloela House on the Upper Island for a FREE artmaking and storytelling session featuring Kempsey-based artist and Dunghutti Elder John Kelly. From 10am to 5pm, Kelly – together with artist Rena Shein – will engage children and their families in the preservation and celebration of culture.

In addition, the popular Haunted History Tour runs every Saturday from 6:30pm. Parents and kids will learn about Cockatoo Island’s secrets, scandals and skeletons and visit iconic landmarks as the sun sets. Online bookings essential. Tickets available from $15. 

Unwind at family-friendly cafés 

Cockatoo Island’s two family-friendly cafés are open Monday through Sunday. Located a short stroll from the ferry wharf, Societé Overboard offers a range of food including burgers, fish and chips, mezze plates and wraps. Meanwhile, Marina Café & Bar – a relaxed venue in the historic Docks Precinct – serve an assortment of toasted wraps as well nachos, pizzas, burgers and breakfast rolls.

Avoid crowds and save on accommodation

Family outings are hard enough to pull off without having to navigate weekend crowds in Sydney. For a hassle-free Biennale experience, escape to Cockatoo Island between Monday and Friday. You’ll have the best chance at seeing the featured artworks – as well as the island’s historic landmarks – unobstructed by other visitors. Plus, there are a handful of free activities for families on weekdays. These include Our Path: Uncle John Kelly and Rena Shein (1 to 8 June), Microplastics: Citizen Science Field Trip (22 April) and Art in Action (13 to 26 April)– an interactive program facilitated by Claudia Chidiac, the curator of Western Sydney’s Way Out West Children’s Festival.

Best of all? The Biennale Staycation Deal means you can save up to 20% on Cockatoo Island’s accommodation when you stay on a weeknight (Monday to Thursday) during Biennale. Are you long overdue for a family getaway or staycation? Take advantage of this limited time offer . T&Cs apply.

Don’t forget to pick up a free activity book

Upon arriving at Cockatoo Island, kids can collect a FREE activity book from the Visitor Centre. Suitable for kids aged 12 and under, the book includes challenges such as Convict Clues and Ship Shape, which encourage interaction with the island's rich history. Our visitor centre operates 10am to 4pm daily.

Where:     Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour
Transport: Ferry, water taxi, private boat or NIRIN HAIVETA
When:      14 March 2020 - 8 June 2020 (Main Exhibition: 10am to 5pm daily)
Cost:        Main exhibition: Free. Ticketed events: Prices vary

For more information, visit the website.

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