From above, Cockatoo Island looks like it has been dropped right into the middle of Sydney Harbour. As a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, Cockatoo Island is worth a day trip to learn more about some of Australia's incredible tales and triumphs.
This previous convict establishment is just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay and lies between Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers.
Grab a ferry and enjoy views across the water on the way to the island, with the option to take a day trip or extend your stay overnight at one of the campgrounds or holiday houses. The island is known for its historical sites, and on arrival, you will have the option to enjoy a self-guided experience or audio tour.
If you choose to spend the day exploring alone, then bring a picnic and go to Biloela Lawn for incredible views and a relaxing place to spend hours on end unwinding. The lower island provides barbecue facilities and ample green space to stretch out in too.
Make the most of the basketball court or giant chess. Or for Shipyard Stories, visit Biloela House. Photography lovers will get lost in the island's industrial precinct and rugged relics telling stories of history to photograph too.
After a day of exploring stop by the Societe Overboard Cafe to take in views over the harbour as the sunsets, or Marina Cafe and Bar on the water's edge.
Surprisingly, this is the only island on the harbour where you can stay overnight. Enjoy the spectacular campsite on the water or one of the apartments on the island. You can find both camping and glamping options available to suit all types of styles and experiences. Of course, glamping will bring you creature comforts like a cosy bed, hot showers and toiletries. From your campground, watch the sky fill with colour as the sun goes down over the harbour, as the city lights begin to flicker.
Entering the island is free, and you can go on any day of the week. As your ferry docks, you will be welcomed by the sandstone convict walls still standing tall to tell the tale of the island's history. Wake up early and join one of the many group tours to learn more about the stories of the island and Sydney's early settlement history. Later in the evening, you can experience the ghost tours from Haunted History Night Tours telling spooky and scary stories, only for the brave.
If you're lucky enough to ring in the New Year in Sydney, Cockatoo Island brings not only entertainment but also a perfect vantage point to see up close Sydney's fireworks. If this sounds like something for you, make sure you book ahead to secure accommodation.
Cockatoo Island is a unique experience in Sydney and a beautiful way to encounter Sydney Harbour from a different angle.