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Islands in Sydney Harbour

  • Tuesday March 12th 2019
  • Sydney


Part of the charm of Sydney Harbour is the unique little islands dotted throughout it. While locals and visitors all love their harbourside lifestyle and have their favourite spots, few know much about these little pockets of land. From our Observation Deck, you can get better acquainted with some of Sydney’s islands.

Fort Denison

This tiny island has a diverse and dynamic past. ‘Mat-te-wan-ye,’ as the Eora people know it, was a favourite fishing spot, conveniently close to Bennelong Point. Fast forward to 1788, when a convict was sentenced to a one week stint in irons with only bread and water to eat. From then on, the island, deemed ‘Rock Island’ by Governor Phillip, was used as a prison, and became known as ‘Pinchgut.’ This little bit of land has been the focus of an award-winning film and is a coveted location for weddings, parties and NYE bashes. But don’t try to swim there – the harbour is sharky – try the Fort Denison ferry instead.

Cockatoo Island

Known as ‘Waremah’ by the Eora people, this island is the harbour’s largest, and one of its most interesting. Only open to the public since 2007, this place has had a host of lives, beginning as a prison. From a dockyard facility to an Industrial School for Girls, and an important place for shipbuilding and repair, it’s seen its fair share of activity. After the docks closed, the community fought to preserve its heritage, and in 2010, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Take a Cockatoo Island ferry to explore this incredible and kind of eerie island; you can have a hit of tennis, visit the Biennale or even camp overnight.

Clark Island

Sitting off Darling Point is this little gem; there’s not much to it, less than a hectare. This gorgeous green grab of land took its name from Lieutenant Ralph Clark. He used the island to grow vegetables after coming to these shores with the First Fleet. Now a playground for Sydneysiders, you can pack a picnic and eat your lunch with some of the city’s most spectacular views. There are no ferries, so you’ll have to find your watery way to this island via boat or water taxi.

Goat Island

Bennelong and Barangaroo once called Goat Island home. Known as ‘Me-mel’ by the Cadigal people, this place has played a significant part in Sydney’s history. It served as a storage spot for explosives, housed convict workers who manned a sandstone quarry there and was the site of a significant shipyard. As the location of the city’s first water police station, it’s fitting that the TV series, ‘Water Rats,’ was filmed here. You can check out this unique island by joining a historical tour every first and third Sunday of the month.

These are just a few of the islands you can see from Sydney's highest point. From way up there, you can get a taste of the island adventures this harbour has in store.