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“Cockatoo Island - loved it!”

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Cockatoo Island Camping
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 3, 2013

We camped for 3 nights on Cockatoo Island and loved it. we used our own tent and were lucky enough to stay when it was very quiet so we only shared the camping area and kitchen with one other family. It's a unique and quirky campsite with a fantastic history and well worth at least half a day to wander around. The facilities were clean, though my only gripe was that the kitchen area had absolutely no utensils. There is no need for saucepans as there are BBQs to use but a few utensils would have been good. We ended up using twigs and fingers to move items around the hotplate!

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank lady-lasala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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132 - 138 of 140 reviews

Reviewed January 27, 2013

I came here with my friend and 4 kids. We had a 2 man " glamping package" and they had a double tent glamping package. Our tent cost about $150 for the night. It consisted of 2 mats bedding towels a lantern and 2 outdoor chairs.

The kids loved arriving by ferry and exploring the island. They even went for a swim at the swimming hole which really is a hole.

We had dinner at the island bar pizzas which was great,but not much variety. Breakfast in the cafe was pricey, but good.

The showers and barbecue facilities were great, but if you stayed here longer you,would need to bring our own supplies.

Great idea for a night or weekend.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Melanie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2012

We stayed here for Sat night on the last weekend of the Biennale (early Sept). Was great to get to see some of the exhibits before the daytrippers from the mainland arrived.

When the daytrippers left the campers pretty much had the island to themselves. There's plenty of space to kick a ball, play frisbee and for kids to ride their scooters. Loved that my kids could roam around early in the morning near the campsite and not have to worry about vehicles. They loved exploring the tunnels and nooks and crannies around the island.

We booked the $100 rent-a-tent package which includes a tent big enough for 3, 2 sleeping mats, 2 folding chairs.

There are large luggage trolleys available for those with lots of luggage - we managed to fit 4 winter weight sleeping bags, 2 single air-mattresses plus towels and clothes for a family of 4 into 2 large overnight bags with wheels plus food for 4 people into an Esky on wheels.

Food is available to purchase but expensive because of the location - a pastie was $6. We brought all our own food - just paid for coffee and ice-creams. You can also purchase a bag of ice for $6. Worth it if you want to keep your beer cold (not allowed to be stored in the camp fridge as kids can access it) as the cafe closes at 6pm.

There were 8 free electric BBQs but only 5 worked properly. There is a large double door commercial size fridge and a small microwave, 4 large kitchen sinks, boiling water on tap, large under-cover dining area with plenty of tables and benches. No sink plugs which seems at odds with the island's philosophy of being environmentally sensitive - there are no powered campsites.

You can fit 3 people to a tent but won't fit much luggage in the tent.

The not-so-good:
* bring a bike chain to secure your luggage to a post - there are no lockers to store your camping gear once you check out of your tent by 1030am
* not all the electric BBQs work
* technically you are not supposed to bring any alcohol onto the island
* there are powerpoints in each bathroom cubicle but not practical if you need to charge something like a lantern or mobile phone - you'd have to disconnect the microwave in the kitchen so you could keep an eye on it

The good:
* high-quality tents, sleeping mats and folding chairs
* very clean toilets and showers
* amazing views of the harbour

Will definitely come back and stay 2 nights for next Biennale. Make sure you bring warm sleeping bags - the harbour breeze is nippy - we had 3 season sleeping bags and I went to bed with 4 layers on top plus track pants and was warm enough but quite a few campers said they had a cold night.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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6  Thank avikone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2012

Just spent the weekend at cockatoo island in sydney harbour. Hired a tent and had a great time exploring the island's historic industrial past. The tents and sleeping mats are clean as are the facillities (hot showers, toilets, BBQs). The greatest disapointment of the stay was the island cafe. This would have to be the worst run cafe in the world. On sunday morning after a night in the tent campers would love to have a hot cappacunio ($3:50) and a egg and bacon roll ($7:00). You would not think this would be difficult for any well run cafe in Sydney, however the gang running this joint could not get it more wrong. First of all the cafe is advertised to open at 8am. On this day 26 Feb 2012, the staff rolled up at 8:20am and then commenced to set up. As expected this takes some time to heat the griddle and get the cap machine cranked up. 20 or so minutes later after a ram shankle set up the cafe started taking orders from a long line of customers. What a joke! After about an hour and a half watching this I decided to join the line to order a coffee and a egg and bacon roll. Guess what? They ran out of eggs. Unbelievable, how do you run out of eggs on a sunday morning at a cafe catering to a finite customer base where almost every dish on the menu includes eggs. Because there was no eggs I decided to just buy a coffee. This took an incredible 45 mins to be provided and probably would have taken longer except that 2 or 3 people who were waiting for coffee gave up and demanded and got their money back. Never have a seen such a badly run business in a spot which could be such a gold mine for the island and the owners of the business. This experience really put a dampner on the whole experience.

Room Tip: Ask for a tent on the water front
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  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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12  Thank Tyrone K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 24, 2012

Glamping never felt so good. Quick ferry from circular quay, to find the tent already up, beds made with good linen/doona, and great sun bed recliners. How good is this! The BEST amenities block ever. Brand new, teak timber finish, porcelain Belfast sinks, clean, with steaming hot water. All on an island overflowing with convict history, sandstone, and interesting industrial (ship building) remnants. The sky walk was sensational, as too the art in the tunnels which bisect the monolithic island. But the most unexpected was the Island Bar, pumping out funky tunes, wood fired pizzas, and awesome gin/rum/carribean offerings. Reason enough to visit the island! Being on the harbour at water level is noisy, with fisherman plying their trade at all hours, but not meant as a criticism. All part of the grit and colour that is cockatoo island. 10/10.

  • Stayed: January 2012
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7  Thank Boodar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2010

The first thing that comes into your mind about camping on an island is 'cheaper than a hotel room'. Well yes and no. The camp ground is new with all the essentials; its relatively clean and there is security roaming around if you need it.

But getting there and away (particularly on a sunday) is a nightmare. The ferries finish going to the island at 9pm weekdays and 6pm on sundays. It does not offer much flexibility to go see sydney at night.

In context to the lack of transport to and from the island, the rates are far from reasonable. For an unpowered camping site I paid $55 saturday and $45 sunday. If it was just that price to camp in sydney harbour, you would think that was fine, but no. The problem is that you still need to bring ALL your equipment with you, as well as your food. No alcohol can be brought onto the island, which means a steep $7 beer price.

All in all its a nice place to read a book and take your kids if your cashed up and local, but for everybody else it really isn't worth the hassle.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank ninja40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2010

We flew in from Melbourne to camp for a couple of nights with our two kids (a 1 and 3 year old). And it’s a great camping spot with million dollar views – if you bring all your own gear and food I think you’d be pretty happy.

For people like us, doing the camping package – it had the following issues:
- Some of the air mattresses have slow leaks. I had to raid a neighbouring unoccupied tent at 3am to ‘borrow’ another mattress because mine was flat.
- The showers look great, but they’re pretty miserable if the day hasn’t warmed up yet. Our poor son was shivering and blue with cold. We had use a t-shirt for a plug, and fill the sink to give him a warm ‘bath’.
- There’s very little shade if it’s hot, and no wind protection at all. When the wind picked up we had to stay inside our tents (which are very good quality, and stood up well to the stiff winds). Four people in a tiny tent is no fun.
- This is just a niggle – but there’s nowhere ‘secure’ to charge your mobile phone
- We decided not to bring coffee pots, bowls, cutlery etc, and just rely on the café for breakfast – and eat out for the rest of the meals. We were assured the café opened at 8am, which is pushing it for children who are used to eating at 7am, but doable. On both Friday and Saturday morning, the café people ignored us until 8:30 when they 'opened', when we politely asked why they didn’t open at 8am, they became very defensive and quite aggressive (obviously we weren’t the first to complain). We were told that they would open whenever they liked, and that as campers we should not rely on them for food, but should bring our own. For day 2 we made sure we had food for our breakfast, but the first day was very unpleasant, and being yelled at was no treat either.
- You are not allowed to bring alcohol to the island, and a stubby will cost you $6.50 - $7.50 and you’ll pay $25 for a $10 bottle of wine.
- You can organise a BBQ package from the café (if they’re open), but you need to book it a day or two ahead because they need to defrost the meat.
- Managing the last day is tricky. We had to be at the airport at 6pm, but we didn’t want to leave our bags on the island because by the time you waited for ferries, it would take 2-3 hours to do the round trip to pick them up. There’s no lockers at circular quay, so we pretty much had to haul them around with us all day.

It looks like the Harbour Trust are trying to do more to cater for fly-in fly-out campers like ourselves. They’re about to introduce new bigger tents with little trundle beds and linen included, which is a great idea. Hopefully they will include cooking & eating gear in the package as well – or work out a more reliable relationship with the café.

So, even though it’s an absolutely great spot, on reflection, I don’t think we’ll be back. It’s considerably more expensive than a typical camping experience – and the problems above meant that, on balance, we didn’t really have a very pleasant time. It’s a shame really– because it could be fantastic.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled with family
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7  Thank k8mcm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cockatoo Island Camping

Address: Sydney Harbour | Woolwich, Sydney, Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, Australia
Phone Number:
Location: Australia > New South Wales > Sydney > Cockatoo Island
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Cockatoo Island
Price Range: $62 - $92 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 5

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