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“What an amazing place”
Review of Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island
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and up
Balmain Pub Walking Tour
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Off-limits to the public for more than one hundred years, Cockatoo Island welcomes you to a new chapter in its long and illustrious story. Retaining all its character and heritage from decades of human endeavour by convicts and shipbuilders alike, Cockatoo Island has opened its doors to all, with a mission to re-energise history. Now a place to escape the everyday, a canvas for creatives and cultural events, the world’s first urban waterfront campground and beautiful holiday accommodation, Cockatoo Island has undergone a renaissance in every sense of the word.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
270 reviews
96 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“What an amazing place”
Reviewed January 23, 2013

Cockatoo Island is a great place to visit to see the prisoners accommodation of 19th century, to see the work that prisoners accomplished with their own hands. Through to a much more recent industrial heritage that seemed familiar from visiting my own father in his workplace in to 1950's and 60's. All this history on an island that itself seem rather idyllic. A must to see.

Visited January 2013
Thank D C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level 6 Contributor
152 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“Amazing venue for New Year's Eve”
Reviewed January 16, 2013

Cockatoo Island is open to the public daily but admission on New Year's Eve is for camping overnight only. This has to be one of the best viewpoints for the NYE fireworks - which are stunning. The Island is about 2 miles West of Sydney Harbour Bridge and you get there on a ferry from Circular Quays. The Sydney Ferries service calls at Darling Harbour first so yiu get a good 25 minute ride around the harbour to the Island. It’s a small island – you can walk around in about an hour or so and there are free guided tours. Tickets for camping don’t come cheap but are well worth it if you don’t want to be one of the 1.5 million people jostling for space. There is no crush on the island because numbers are limited to the camping pitches available – we estimated maybe about 700-800 people total. There are free bbq grills on the island which were not too busy and cleaned by the staff as soon as we had finished cooking. There were 2 bars on the island and drinks were reasonable – AU$ 7 for a beer and AU$30 for a bottle of fizz. The bars do close though at 1230 am.
Now for the fireworks: for those that don’t know- the firework displays are at 9.00pm and of course at midnight. There are 5 simultaneous displays at different points around Sydney from Cockatoo Island, South to Botany Bay. From the island you can see fireworks displays in front of you in the harbour barely half a mile away, then the fireworks from the Bridge and City skyscrapers in the background, so it really is a grew viewpoint.
Bookings open (I think) in September and sell out within days – so keep an eye on the website http://www.cockatooisland.gov.au/ for booking dates. We will definitely be back one day!

Visited December 2012
4 Thank DavidSnellUk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Looking for something different to do...found it!”
Reviewed January 15, 2013

We were looking to do something in Sydney for the last (official) day of our summer holidays, so decided to take the ferry to Cockatoo Island. Neither of us really knew of the historical background of the island so we went without any expectations. We arrived on the arrival courtesy of Sydney Ferries after a small tour of the harbour that allowed us to marvel at some beautiful homes and collected a free guide to the island on our way in. While audio and guided tours are available we opted to explore on our own. It was free to be on the island on the day we were there, although we had expected to pay a small entrance fee. The history of the island tracks back to the days of the convicts, where hard labour was used to build many of the island's early infrastructure, evolving into the days of ship building, until its final closure.
It's fascinating to be able to wander around these buildings and in some cases through them; however there are a number of buildings that are closed to the public. Plaques are in place to describe the function of these structures however. The Turbine workshop was an interesting building, leading one to imagine just how it must have been when in full operation. There’s not a huge amount to see, but enough to keep us entertained. It took us just over an hour to walk around the island, the views are amazing and there are plenty of places to stop and contemplate what life may have been like.
We were well and truly ready for lunch and a couple of drinks following our exploration and settled on the inviting yellow beach chairs, blue umbrellas and fake grass of the Island Bar. Now this was an interesting experience! There were 8 staff members milling around, all males who spoke with an Italian accent. We had to wait at the entrance for a girl who took time out from texting to radio a waiter, who radioed another waiter to come and show us to a table. The waiter took us to our table and then left us without a menu and without guidance as what to do. We could see the bar, and could see the pizza ‘van’, so…..my partner padded off to the bar to go and order a drink. Interesting concept…all those staff members, but no service. There is no EFTPOS available on small transactions, but they will let you run a tab…helpful! Oh, and don’t take your shoes off before going to the bar…
The only food available at the bar is Pizzas and Panini, these are served in a pizza box which is novel but mustn’t be that cost effective for the company. These are amazing and very much in a true Italian style. We ate one and considered ordering another one straight away but refrained, considering our waistlines.

Visited January 2013
Thank Annabelle40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Superb, for a certain type of person.”
Reviewed January 4, 2013 via mobile

I really enjoyed this visit. It seems to get mixed reviews so I think it depends on the type of person you are and your interests. Anyone with an interest in engineering, military history and industrial history would love this place. Getting inside the main turbine workshops was spookily brilliant and the dry docks for the Oberon submarines was really interesting. So much history of Sydney is tied up here, not least the convict buildings. It also has a bar with a surprisingly party atmosphere! Loved it! But I like history and beer :-) (plus it was free when I was there)

Thank ianyoung1985
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“So much of nothing.”
Reviewed December 29, 2012

Cockatoo island is a former convict prison and shipyard. What you are going to see is a bunch of buildings most of them you cant enter but have plaques next to the lock barring the door. I have been to Robben Island in South Africa an the major difference was that instead of taking an audio guide or a self guided walk there were tour guides that took you through the island. Cockatoo island is definitely a place of historical significance but the way you experience it currently makes it a truly dull experience. I won't reccomend to tourists. It did however seem really popular with locals as a camping site.

Visited December 2012
Thank Mandie v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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