Your Guide To Cockatoo Island Ferry Wharf

Disabled Access – YES

Food and Drink Options – YES

Tourist Attractions – YES

Transport Links – NO

Shopping Centre – NO

Nightlife – NO

Opening Hours – 10am-4pm (Visitors Information Centre)

Cockatoo Island is the largest of several islands located between the South and North shores of Sydney Harbour. The wharf via which the island is accessed features a Visitors Information Centre, which is located as you disembark and is open from 10:00am – 4:00pm daily. Most areas of the island are wheelchair accessible, and disabled toilet facilities are available. Some surfaces are uneven, with one steep incline from the lower island to the upper island. Note that there are a number of rules and regulations that need to be adhered to on Cockatoo Island. There is to be no alcohol brought onto the island. Beer and wine is available to purchase on the island. There’s also no smoking allowed anywhere on the island and portable BBQs and fires are also not allowed. Remote controlled drones and toys are also not permitted. Guide dogs are welcome, but all other animals must remain on the mainland. There are designated swimming areas, camping areas and construction areas that you must steer clear of, and you will require a permit to erect any gazebos or marquees or to perform any commercial activities. This includes playing amplified music.

History

Whilst it is now regarded as a unique tourist attraction, the island was actually off-limits to the general public for more than 100 years. In 2007, however, the Island was reopened and in 2010 it was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The island was originally a heavily timbered sandstone knoll, which many believe was used as a fishing base by indigenous Australians. Between 1839 and 1869 it was used as a penal colony where convicts were sent as secondary punishment for reoffending and between 1857 and 1991 it was also used as a shipyard, with the first of the two dry docks actually built by the same convicts who were sent there as punishment for their crimes. It’s considered historically important more for its shipbuilding legacy than for its time as a penal colony and has become one of the most popular stops on Sydney’s cultural map as a result.

Attractions

The island itself has become a major tourist attraction in recent years. One of the most fascinating historical sites in Australia, guests can either take a self-guided tour, an audio tour or hire a professional tour guide to take them through the island’s sweeping history. The island also features a café, the Marine Centre, tennis courts and even a life-sized chess board. Due to its unique vantage point, the island is also a popular location from which to watch the NYE firework display, with many firework fans choosing to camp on the island in order to grab a good spot. As it’s the only island in Sydney that allows overnight stays, camping is also popular on the island all year round (for the less adventurous amongst you there are also small holiday homes available) and there have also been numerous music and arts festivals held on the island since it reopened. The island is perfectly suited for charter boat passengers looking to whet their historical appetites and entry to the island is completely free.