Sunday, 5 June 2011

Cockatoo Island

On Saturday I finally made it to Cockatoo Island for the first time. The largest island in Sydney Harbour it has had a varied history being a prison, grain store, reformatory school and ship yard over the years.

You have to pay for the ferry ride over to the island, but entry is free. Just like Port Arthur you are free to roam around and inside most of the buildings. We hired the audio guide which is very reasonable at $5. Usually I don't bother with audio guides, but I'd recommend it as there aren't that many information signs on the island so you'd be drifting round a bit aimlessly otherwise.

Just in case you wanted to know exactly how large the island you are visiting is.

Over the years the island has been heavily re-shaped by white settlers. It now has a wide apron of flat land circling high cliffs, on which a central plateau sits. On reflection it's quite odd and not something that could have been created naturally. There are several high staircases and one steep road to get up onto the plateau. Two tunnels undercut the central plateau to allow quick access to cross the island.

The buildings on the island reflect its most recent use as a ship yard. Lots of the buildings were hastily built and are now decaying with, seemingly, little being done to restore or stabilise them. If you are into photography of decaying urban landscapes the island is absolutely golden. The cranes particularly fascinated me, although I didn't manage to get any good photos.

It was pretty peaceful with not many other tourists around. As most Sydneysiders will know it is possible to camp on the island. There weren't too many takers in winter. However, some hardy souls looked like they had settled in for the night. I think it would be pretty unique to be camping the harbour with free roam of the island at night. I can imagine some of the large empty warehouses would be pretty eerie in the dark.

There are sweeping views of the harbour form the island. I tried a little panorama looking east.

My only regret is that by the time we got back to the entrance the kiosk had closed and I wasn't able to buy any postcards for the grandparents.


  1. The only time I visited Cockatoo Is was for last years Bienale but sadly that was cut short due to the hoards of people with prams. Not the most enjoyable experience. I look forward to returning sometime, on a normal day

  2. Always wanted to go, but alas...

  3. Dude, born in Sydney and never even been to any of the islands. Love your panorama =)

  4. I haven't gone there either, I should though. I was just flicking through your tasmanian posts. Lots of lovely looking food to be had in Tasmania that's for sure.
    Lovely to meet you on the weekend and I hope all those bubbles are doing as they should be :-)

  5. @CHFG - it was great to meet you too. Thanks for the starter and all of the advice. My 'new' starter seems to be going much better, I think I have some nice yeasty smells beginning to develop. Although this cold snap isn't helping!

    I am going to do my first bake on the weekend. My starter isn't ready, so I'll be using some of yours! ;-)