Exploring Sydney’s amazing ship building history on Cockatoo Island.
Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove River in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. It is the largest of several islands that were originally heavily timbered sandstone knolls and was once our central shipping building industry for many decades.
Located in the heart of Sydney Harbour, just a short ferry ride from the CBD, Cockatoo Island is an extraordinary place where you can either spend the day exploring its remarkable history, spend a few hours having lunch at the many great eateries, or spend a few nights in their beautifully restored bed and breakfast rooms.
They also have a camp ground if you don’t mind roughing it a bit. However, the camp ground is currently closed due to COVID. You can still stay in the bed and breakfast rooms.
There is a lot of restoration work happening around the island, as it was neglected for nearly 100 years – almost forgotten and left in time.
Which is sad, because as you stroll around the island and learn about the shipping history and how many famous ships, both Australian and American, were built there. And the hundreds of ship building apprentices who came through the island, and lived and worked there is incredible.
Shipbuilding on Cockatoo Island began in 1870, and a long list of large and significant vessels have been built and repaired on the island since. Smaller vessels on a portion of the island can be seen docked and being repaired today… the island no longer hosts any massive ships.
Of course, it wouldn’t be part of Australian history, without a little convict history as well. And there is plenty of that. There are cells, which are part of a small convict prison on the island, where many convicts lived and worked a very hard life on the island.
The island was used as a convict prison between 1839 and 1869. Prisoners had to endure harsh living conditions and were employed to construct barracks, silos and docks.
No matter your interests, there is so much to do on the island. And you’re sure to find something to sate your taste.