Camping on Cockatoo Island

One of the great pleasures of camping is to find a spot that is relatively quiet, but which affords you great views.  Camping on Cockatoo Island gives you great views; fantastic views, in fact; make that some of the best city views you will see anywhere in the world – because Cockatoo Island is located smack bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour, where there is always plenty to look at.

Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbour. Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, Cockatoo Island is a former imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and gaol. It is also the site of one of Australia’s biggest shipyards during the twentieth century. The first of its two dry docks was built by convicts and was completed in 1857. The island’s maritime industrial activity ceased in 1992, and it has since become a UNESCO World heritage Site.

The history of Cockatoo Island is emblematic of Australia’s history. Before the arrival of Europeans, it was undoubtedly used by the first Australians, the Aboriginal tribes of Sydney’s coastal region. In 1839 it was chosen as the site of a new penal establishment by the Governor of the colony of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps.

Convicts were put to work building prison barracks, a military guardhouse and official residences. Not long after, the maritime history of Cockatoo Island began with the construction of the Fitzroy Dock by convicts.

For the next 50 years the island was both a place of incarceration and the site of the colony’s ship repair and shipbuilding activities. During the twentieth century maritime activity grew, notably during World War I and World War II. For a time, Cockatoo Island was the largest shipbuilding yard in Australia.

When the shipyard closed in 1992, Cockatoo Island lay dormant for a decade until the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust was established and given the responsibility of revitalising this significant site. The Trust is rehabilitating the island and creating one of the most unusual places to visit in the city.

If you do decide to camp you’ll need to take your own sleeping bag.  You can also take all of your equipment if you like, or hire the rest when you get to the island.  You can take your own food, or buy BBQ packs there.  And if camping is not your thing, then you can rent holiday houses and apartments for slightly more comfort.

Waking up to watch the sun rise over the Harbour Bridge; there’s no better way to start the day.

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