Cockatoo Island has a storied past - tough convict prison, girl's reformatory, naval dockyard and military base, union stronghold, Aboriginal tent embassy site and its current role as one of the must-see tourist destinations in Sydney. At the time of our visit in early June 2018 the island was hosting the Sydney Biennale art festival. There's a couple of cafes, a bar called Young Henry's, convict-era buildings, countless abandoned industrial and military buildings, tunnels, slipways, coal bunkers, dry docks and all the rest. And that's just the on-land portion of this stunning location. It's all surrounded by the finest harbour in the world with magnificent views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge so the place is automatically an Instagrammer's delight. Want to eat out? Jump on a ferry and de-boat at Darling Harbour or Circular Quay for some fine dining and then go dance the night away in the city before catching a ferry or water taxi back to the Island. If you have valuables like cameras you don't want to leave in the tent during an evening sojourn into the city then avail yourself of the locker facilities. All in all it's not too shabby for a tented campsite, eh? There's three or four different levels of camping available, from BYO gear through to the more posh end of the scale where all you have to bring is your overnight bag. I'm bush-bred and usually avoid the Big Smoke like the plague, but the island was surprisingly easy to get to. We drove to Hunters Hill and parked up in a quiet residential street from which we summoned an Uber. After a four minute wait and a five minute Uber trip we were at Huntley's Point ferry wharf then onto a Supercat for the quick jaunt down to Cockatoo Island. Easy peasy. We were "glamping" so the canvas dome tent had camp beds, linen, towels, toiletries, some comfy folding chairs and even an esky. The beds were comfortable enough and more to the point, despite a biting, freezing cold wind which would have pushed the temps down to around zero via the magic of wind-chill, the inside of the tent was toasty, and there was minimal canvas flapping from the wind. I had a good look around the other options for camping on the island while I was there. A basic tent package includes the tent, chairs and camp beds. You need to supply mattress, bedding, towels, toiletries, etc. Another camping option was BYO tent (and everything else!). Obviously this is the cheapest option, but also the most cumbersome. If you brought a hiking tent, and a thermarest mattress and a lightweight sleeping bag for each person it wouldn't be too bad. I have been percolating this idea to take my vintage canvas bell tent and roll-up campaign furniture with us next time and show these Sydney Harbour folk what real "glamping" is all about... and since there are luggage trolleys available to borrow at the info centre it might just be doable too. Just need to find an Uber driver with a ute to carry all the gear to the ferry stop... Is it worth going? Most definitely! We were there for two days and still didn't see everything. I'll be back for sure.
PO Box 607, Mosman NSW 2088