Things to Do in Cockatoo Island

Things to Do in Cockatoo Island

There are several interesting things to do in Cockatoo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at Sydney Harbour. This picturesque island is situated in the Sydney Harbor and was used as a penal establishment during 1839. Cockatoo Island is popular for its historical buildings, picturesque views and distinctive terrain. While on the island, you can opt to go on a walking tour, covering the island’s historic buildings such as the Convict Precinct, the Industrial Precinct & Docks Precinct and others on a self-guided audio tour. There are other tours available as well which you can enjoy on the island such as the Ghost Tour, Haunted History Tour etc.

Once you are done with learning the history of the various attractions, indulge in some fun activities such as playing Corn Hole or opt to take a ferry ride to admire the Sydney attractions from the water. The Cockatoo Island is also an excellent place for a picnic and you can enjoy an outing and have a meal at the various waterfront cafes such as the Marina Cafe and Bar. Many visitors visiting the island also opt for a camping experience and enjoy staying under the sky. Spending your time sitting around a campfire or watching a movie at the Campground Cinema are just some fun things one can indulge in.

Do Camping

One of the must things to do in Cockatoo Island is to opt for overnight camping experience. Take a respite from the hustle and bustle of Sydney city and spend a night at Cockatoo Island, one of the best harbors in Australia with breathtaking views. Delight in finding modern amenities at your camps and spend your time sitting around a campfire and watching a movie at the Campsite Cinema. One can simply gaze up to the night sky and admire the view of the Sydney city line and its attractions.

Location: Cockatoo Island Campground, Woolwich NSW 2110, Australia

Explore Convict Precinct

The Convict Precinct is one of the 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and features incredible examples of remains of convict structures. Take a Convict Precinct guided tour and learn the history of the Penal establishments of the bygone era. Pass iconic landmarks on your tours such as the Military Quarters, central yard, the Military Guardhouse, Barracks, Solitary Cells and the sandstone Mess Hall. Delight in the mesmerizing view of the Parramatta River during your tour.

Location: Birchgrove NSW 2041, Australia

Timing: 7 am-11 pm

Check out the Industrial Precinct & Docks Precinct

Checkout Industrial Precinct & Docks Precinct in Cockatoo Island where you will be able to experience some of the old industrial workshops. One of the things to do in Cockatoo Island is to learn about both the precincts dating back to 1860 and their significant historical importance in the Australian Navy. You will be able to understand the improved working standards by federations conducted on Cockatoo Island as well as get an insight into Australian Army history at both precincts.

Location: Balmain NSW 2041, Australia

Have Fun Playing Corn Hole

Another one of the exciting activities to do in Cockatoo Island is to play the game of Corn Hole. Corn Hole is an outdoor game in which you will attempt to throw 16-ounce bean bags on a platform with a hole to score 3 points. The game needs lots of depth understanding as well as hand-eye coordination and you will be able to teach your kids how to improve these skills while playing the game.

Watch a Movie at Campground Cinema

Watching a movie at the indoor cinema in the Convict Precinct is one of the best things to do in Cockatoo Island. Relax on a bean bag and indulge in a cinematic experience with your favourite popcorn. Adults and kids can also have fun watching movies from the selection of free movies available. The Campground Cinema can accommodate up to 30 individuals.

Timings: kids movie at 7 pm, adult movie at 9:15 pm.

Location: Cockatoo Island Campground, Woolwich NSW 2110, Australia

Take a Ferry Ride

During your visit to this picturesque island, one of the activities to do in Cockatoo island is opting for a ferry ride. Known as F8 Cockatoo services, the enjoyable ride will take you below the iron curves of the Harbour Bridge. You will also be able to watch the Sydney skyline and its attractions such as the Opera House and others.

Timings: 6:15 AM - 10:45 PM

Location: Circular Quay and Barangaroo as well as from wharves along Parramatta River

Spend an Evening at the Campground Fire Pit

Spending an evening camping is some of the exciting things to do in Cockatoo Island, in which you will be able to enjoy an evening relaxing around the bonfire at the Campground Fire Pit. Sit around the warmth of the fire and enjoy roasted marshmallows while listening to some spooky takes of the island. Admire the sights of the Sydney Harbour and gaze up to the evening sky full of stars.

Timings: Starts at 9 pm

Location: Cockatoo Island Campground, Woolwich NSW 2110, Australia

Dine out at Marina Cafe and Bar

While on your day or overnight tour, one of the activities to do in Cockatoo island will be to dine at the Marina Cafe and Bar, located along the Camber Wharf. Relax with a coffee or any other beverage at this harbour-side hangout with a country-style pub charm. Enjoy delightful dishes from the menu which also has vegan delights along with other gluten-free, dairy-free dishes on offer.

Timings: Mon to Fri: 10 am to 3 pm; Sat & Sun: 9 am to 5 pm

Location: Unnamed Road Camber Wharf, Docks Precinct Cockatoo Island Sydney, NSW 2039, Australia

Take a Walking Tour of Island

One of the activities to do in Cockatoo island is to take a self-guided walking tour of the island. The island is full of historical buildings and you will love taking this walking tour into the Yesteryear histories for 1.5 to 2 hours. The island has signs and plaques all over, explaining some of the histories of the island. To enjoy your tour more, opt for an audio guide, available at the visitor’s centre, and listen to the detailed commentary. Those not very keen on history can also opt to go on a clifftop walk and enjoy the rocky side of the island with tunnel passages.


Which are the best places to visit on Cockatoo Island?

  • Industrial Precinct & Docks Precinct
  • Convict Precinct
  • Ship Design Precinct & Historic Residence Precinct
  • The Tunnels
  • Old dock
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Darling Harbour
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge

How long does it take to walk around Cockatoo Island?

It will take you around 1.5 - 2 hours to take a walk around Cockatoo Island. You can explore the historical grounds of the island and avail of the audio guides to know more about the places.

How do you get to Cockatoo Island?

By Ferry: This is the most common way to visit Cockatoo Island. You can catch a ferry from Circular Quay and Darling Harbour and make the 29-minute journey to reach the island.

By Private Boat: Those having a private boat can reach the island and berth at Camber Wharf at Cockatoo Island Marine Centre cafe.

By Water Taxi: You will need to book a water taxi in advance if you want to avail of this transportation for reaching the island.

How much is the ferry to Cockatoo Island?

The cost of a one-way ferry to Cockatoo Island ranges between $6.12 to $7.65 for adults Concession tickets are available for certain age groups and ranges between $3.06 to $3.82.

Is Cockatoo Island worth visiting?

Yes, Cockatoo Island, which is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worth visiting. It attracts visitors for its breathtaking panoramic views, heritage buildings and distinctive terrains. Visiting the island can be fun as you will find various entertainment options there such as exciting tours, overnight stay at camps, guided historical tours and more.

Why is Sydney famous for?

The vibrant city of Australia, Sydney, has gained popularity owing to its amazing beaches, picturesque yacht-studded harbour, and iconic Opera House. The city was once a colony of exiled British convicts and had grown to become Australia’s most diverse and cosmopolitan city. You will find the beautiful city filled with attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Darling Harbour and others.

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