Cockatoo Island: Sydney’s holiday island

Whether you are parents wanting to give the kids a gentle introduction to camping, grandparents seeking an easy intergenerational holiday or visitors looking to do glamping in a unique location, Cockatoo Island has it all.

It’s the largest and only island in Sydney Harbour where you can stay overnight. During the day you can lazily watch the sailboats, take an audio tour of the island, do one of many activities available or attend one of the events that regularly occur there.

More recent events held there include the Red Bull X-Fighter World Championships, the 18th Biennale of Sydney, the All Tomorrow’s Parties music festival and the Cockatoo Island Film Festival. 

Cockatoo Island is administered by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and is a UNESCO world-heritage-listed island. It has a colourful history that includes being the location of convict barracks, a girls’ school and a wartime shipyard. 

Part of a regular ferry route, Cockatoo Island is only minutes from Circular Quay and the Sydney CBD. So consider your time there a sort of mini holiday away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

A popular accommodation option on the island is the permanent tents down near the water. The campground features excellent amenities including hot showers, toilets and a large camping kitchen. This includes 10 barbecue areas, a fridge, microwaves and a zip boiling water system. Campers need to supply their own cooking utensils, cutlery and plates.  

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The camping options range from BYO tent at $45 per night, a camping package (BYO sleeping bag, pillow and torch) starting at $89 per night or glamping and mini-glamping packages (yes, this is the luxury option) starting at $130 per night.

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Up the hill, there are also heritage houses, with room for up to 10 guests, and all with views over the harbour or across to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Most recently, renovated two-bedroom self-contained apartments that once housed the medical officer’s assistant and the police are now available.

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Cockatoo Island also has a range of dining and drinking options, See: Cockatoo Island Dining. Depending on the season, including Societe Overboard (sandwiches, breakfasts, burgers, hot and cold drinks, beer and wine), Marine Centre Café (sandwiches, snacks, coffee, beer and wine) and the Island Bar (Italian-style lunches, dinners and snacks).

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For campers and glampers, a BBQ pack prepared by Societe Overboard is available if you order in advance. The brekky packs ranged from a Simple Breakfast, $15, of Turkish toast, milk, muesli, jam and butter to a Breakfast Pack, $30, of bacon, eggs, sausages, bread and condiments. Dinner packs range from the BBQ Vegetarian Pack, $35, to a  BBQ Pack 1 and Pack 2, $45, which includes everything you need. Bottles of wine are also available as no alcohol can be brought onto the island. 

Whatever your style of camping, you’re sure to have a great time.