Cockatoo Island

  • Cockatoo Island

a vestige of industrial archaeology on an island in Sydney harbour


Accessible by ferry from Circular Quay. You can pay with your Opal card.

Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site (one of 19 in Australia) located in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

It’s accessible by ferry from Circular Quay, just minutes from Sydney’s central business district by ferry, and you can pay with your Opal card.

The place has had many uses through its history. It started as a convict settlement, turned into an industrial school for girls, became a reformatory and, finally, developed as a shipyard, becoming the major shipbuilding and dockyard facility for the South West Pacific in WWII. Commercial operations closed in 1992, and today the site is used for cultural events. You can even sleep on site, in what’s billed as “one of the world’s great camping experiences”, though the many tales of ghost sightings made that seem like a spooky prospect!

It’s a great destination for fans of industrial archaeology and offers a spectacular vantage point for viewing the city. It is also a fantastic stage for contemporary art, serving as the principal venue for the Biennale of Sydney (read my article on the 20th Biennale of Sydney that took place in 2016).

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