I must admit I’ve never been much of a camper. The thought of sleeping on the floor of a sweaty tent, going without a shower for days on end and using “basic” toilet facilities just didn’t appeal to me. Why put myself through so much on holidays when I could just book into a nice hotel or Airbnb? But when I heard about the concept of Glamping (ie glam camping) my ears perked up. Despite previously mentioned my aversions to “roughing it”, I do in fact love the great outdoors and glamping seemed like the perfect happy medium – it satisfies my desire to stay in nature without foregoing any of my creature comforts.
When I got offered the opportunity to stay overnight on Cockatoo Island to try out their glamping facilities, I couldn’t wait. It was like the ultimate sleepover! And the best part of Cockatoo Island is that despite the fact it feels miles away from civilisation, it’s located smack bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour, which is easily accessible by ferry. In fact it only took me an hour to get there from work using public transport.
How to get there
Catching a public ferry is by far the easiest and cheapest way to visit Cockatoo Island. City Ferries run regular services to Cockatoo Island every day of the week, and they depart from Circular Quay and Darling Harbour if you’re coming from the city, as well as from wharves along the F3 Parramatta River ferry route if you’re coming from the west. You can also get to Cockatoo Island via water taxi, private boat or kayak (if you’re feeling particularly energetic).
For my overnight stay I had the standard Glamping package which includes:
- One pre-erected tent (3m x 3m) on the waterfront
- Two single raised camp beds with all linen, quilts and towels
- Two sun lounges
- Cool box
If you are a light sleeper, ear plugs are available when you check in – this was very welcome as the seagulls are LOUD!
Pricing is from $150 per night Monday to Thursday, and from $175 per night on Friday to Sunday.
There are also two-bedroom glamping packages and mini-glamping (a simpler and cheaper version of my above package) packages available. If you don’t mind roughing it a bit, Cockatoo Island also offers basic camping facilities, and they have a lovely range of apartments too if nature isn’t your thing.
Where to eat
Marina Café & Bar offers a great range of snacks, hot meals, coffee and alcoholic beverages and Societe Overboard has many tasty breakfast and lunch options on sale as well.
A variety of BBQ packs can be ordered a minimum of 48 hours in advance from Societe Overboard as well if you want to cook your own food. They have several delicious options available including a breakfast pack with eggs and bacon and a BBQ dinner pack with steak, sausages and bread rolls – there are vegetarian options available as well.
The final option is to pack a picnic yourself! Each glamping tent comes with an esky so you can keep your food cool before you cook/eat it and the island has a range of BBQ’s, bench seats and tables. Please note you can’t bring alcohol onto Cockatoo Island – so if you’re in the mood for a drink, head to one of the licensed cafes located on the island!
Activities on Cockatoo Island
Do the Audio Tour
Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which used to be a sandstone gaol and is filled with fascinating sights, buildings and stories. The best way to discover all of these is to do the Audio Tour, which takes around 1 1/2 hours and costs $5 per person, or $8 shared between two, purchased from the Visitor Centre.
There are 26 audio stops on the tour, and after you collect your special map you are ready to discover the stories of shipwrights, engineers and trades-people who made Cockatoo Island the biggest shipyard in Australia in the 20th century. This tour was fascinating and is unmissable in my opinion.
We fortunately finished our audio tour just as the storm rolled in!
Dog Leg Tunnel Cinema
In Dog Leg Tunnel, historical videos of Cockatoo Island are projected onto the wall to create a sandstone cinema. It’s open daily from 9.30am to 5.00pm.
Tennis, chess, kayaking and more
There are sporting and game facilities located on the Island which you can reserve at the Visitor Centre for a fee.
After we finished our tour, we decided to indulge in what we came here for – relaxation. We read our books, nibbled on some snacks and sat by the water as the sun went down. It was the perfect way to unwind without having to leave the city.
If you want to give glamping a go yourself, head on over to the Cockatoo Island website to book your island sleepover now!
Love Swah + 1 stayed as a guest of Cockatoo Island. All thoughts and opinions are my own.