There is so much to see and do on Cockatoo Island. The Information Centre provided the boys with two trails, one to explore the prison history of the island, and the other focussing on the ship building industry. These have been the main two uses for the island since the 1800s.
We completed the prison trail in the morning, discovering ruins of the prison and the amazing underground silos that the prisoners dug by hand from the stone. The boys had to collect a letter at each marker point, which formed the name of a prisoner. It was one of the best kid’s trails we have had on our lap of Australia, and involved so much learning we easily ticked off our schooling for the day.
In the afternoon we followed the Ship Shape Challenge, which focussed on the ship building history beginning in the 1940s, where ships were built for World War 1. We found so many cranes around the island and remnants and machinery from the time. In the evening we enjoyed a BBQ dinner pack, available from the cafe onsite.
It was time to venture into the city! We wharf onsite is serviced by regular and frequent ferries. We jumped on board a River Cat, and were in the Darling Harbour area in only 7 minutes!
We spent the day at the Sydney Maritime Museum. This is a must visit destination whilst in Sydney, with or without kids! The full pass gives access to the Navy ships, submarine and a tall ship, plus lots of smaller boats and the museum itself. You can easily spend hour here, touring the ships, watching videos of their history, and having a full hands on experience of what it is like to work on the ships and boats.
We then caught a ferry around to Circular Quay, taking in the splendor of the famous bridge and walking around the the Opera House. Being close to dinner, we grabbed some sushi from Woolworths Metro and took it back to camp.
It was such a huge day yesterday that everyone needed a sleep in and chilled out morning! We cooked up some bacon and eggs for breakfast, before heading across the water, back to our car at Woolwich Wharf.
We could have taken the ferry to Manly, but chose to drive instead, taking our beach gear with us and checking out the suburbs on the way. Being a Sunday, there was a festival on the beachfront and lots of markets in the main shopping area.
Late in the afternoon, we headed up to the lookoutfor spectacular views of the city at sunset.
This was our last day in Sydney, and we saved it for Taronga Zoo. Once again, we caught a ferry to Circular Quay, changing to go out to Taronga Zoo. The ferry takes you directly to the zoo, with unique entry via the cable car. Be sure to purchase your ticket prior to travelling on the ferry to use thuis option, or alternatively you can take the bus to the main entry. We chose the lattter, as we had annual passes to collect which we purchased at the Dubbo Zoo. This was the cheapest options for entry to both zoos, and has the bonus of giving us access to the zoos at home in Victoria, too!
The Taronga Zoo itself is smaller than other zoos, but a great snapshot of the animals. We have found that every zoo has soething different to offer, and this time we enjoyed riding the cable car over the top of the animals and the boys took the lead for the day, choosing which exhibits they wanted to go to and planning the best route to get there.
Back at camp, we enjoyed the colours of sunset over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which were still beautiful, despite the smoke from nearby fires.
Staying at Cockatoo Island was a great, low cost option to use as a base to explore Sydney. We think we were pretty lucky to have such a quiet camping spot with spectacular views of the city, almost to ourselves!