Bang in the middle of the western waters of Sydney Harbour lies Cockatoo Island, a historic convict site that has been transformed into a platform for creative and cultural events. It’s rich history as a penal settlement in the 1800s led to it being named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. The gaol itself was closed in the early 1900s; the island also closed and remained off-limits for more than 100 years. Today, it offers regular art exhibitions, film screenings and creative workshops. You can take a guided tour or even stay overnight at the world’s first urban waterfront campground, either camping or glamping, or stay in studio or apartment accommodation. Audio tours (available Monday to Friday; +61 2 8969 2100) of Cockatoo Island will walk you through historic sites such as an imperial prison and a reform school.

Cockatoo Island is a ten-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay but can also be accessed by water taxi, private boat (moored at Camber Wharf) or even kayak. Hire a dinghy from the Cockatoo Island Marine Centre to get to Greenwich Baths, a beautiful harbour enclave that caters to everyone from toddlers to lap swimmers.

(02) 8969 2100

Image: Mark Merton courtesy Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

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