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Cockatoo Island

Thursday, October 30, 2008
Here is a fantastic way to spend time on one of Sydney's spectacular and historic locations — Cockatoo Island. Located in Sydney Harbour, it offers million-dollar views at a budget-friendly cost.

Cockatoo Island Camping is the world's first city-centre camp site. It belongs to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust branch of the Australian Government, and to stay overnight sounds too good to be true.

There are 135 unpowered sites for tents, all with marvellous views. Each site is 4 square metres and there is a maximum of four people per site. The maximum stay is 30 days.

You can take your own camping gear or have them set up the Cockatoo Island Camping Package for you. It includes site, tent, two mattresses, two camping chairs and a lantern.

There is an amenities block with solar powered hot water showers, a laundry block and a share campground kitchen with eight large electric barbecues, four sinks, and seating for up to 80 people.

The idea for a permanent campsite on Cockatoo Island was born during the Cockatoo Island Festival in 2005 when 1500 camping tickets to the festival sold out in the first week. As part of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust's mandate to promote public access to its sites, the permanent campsite is a great idea offering low-cost accommodation to residents and visitors. It is one of the most cost-effective ways for visitors to stay in the city and enjoy those harbour views from a waterfront site.

Cockatoo Island is the largest island in the harbour at 17.9 hectares. When staying at the campground you can explore the historic site at your leisure. Check out the Commonwealth Heritage Listed convict era buildings, prison, former shipbuilding site and docks. You can also book guided history tours while you are on the island.

Cockatoo Island is car free, which means you must catch a ferry and carry on all your gear. You can get a Sydney Ferry from Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island but they don't offer a regular service. The last one leaves at 1.30pm. The more convenient, popular and free option for campers is to meet Cockatoo Island Boating Island's smaller ferry service from Greenwich pier. They leave every two hours and the trip from Greenwich to Cockatoo Island takes around five minutes.

Blue Earth Kayaking operates a fleet of sit-on kayaks available for visitors to Cockatoo Island to paddle at their leisure. Kayaks are stable and are the perfect way to explore the waters around the island.


Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour.


Cockatoo Island campsite hire is $45 a night, or $75 with tent, two sleeping mats, lantern and camping chairs. Camping reception hours are from 8am to 6pm.

Blue Earth kayaks cost $25 for a single for the first hour and $15 for an additional hour. Doubles are $35 for the first hour and $20 for additional hours.

Virgin Blue has flights to Sydney.

One-way fares from:

  • Brisbane $105
  • Melbourne $112
  • Adelaide $139
  • Darwin $245
  • Perth $249

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at October 30, 2008 and are subject to change.

For further information

Cockatoo Island Camping
Cockatoo Island
Sydney Harbour
Ph: (02) 8898 9774
Fax: (02) 9555 9745

Blue Earth Kayaks
48a Formosa Street
Drummoyne 2047
Ph: (02) 9181 5200
Fax: (02) 9181 5266

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

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