Cockatoo Island has nothing to do with cockatoos those famed Australian birds. Instead the 17.9 ha island at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers in Sydney harbor is well known as the site of a 19th century penal colony and for having been Australia’s largest shipyard and naval base for almost a century. Dismantled in 1992 the site lay neglected until 2001 when it was taken under the wing of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010 in recognition of its historic convict sites.

The island is now promoted as a location for cultural events and it is hard to imagine that it was once a busy dockyard as only a few of the original workshops, ship repair areas and buildings remain. In its new incarnation Cockatoo Island is famous for its contemporary art installations, exhibitions of all sorts, music, film and comedy festivals, and motor cross competitions among other events. The island has served as a major venue of the Sydney Biennale since 2008. It was the main venue for the 2012 event that drew a record number of people. A camp ground opened in 2008 attracts a large number of campers and is a popular spot with the people of Sydney to watch the city’s famed fireworks display to welcome the New Year. A small number of renovated houses and apartments with harbor and city views also provide holiday accommodation. The island is easily accessed by ferries and water taxis that have regular services from Circular Quay and other inner harbor wharves. Although there are guided tours through convict, industrial and maritime areas which have now been spruced up to receive visitors, the island is an easy place to explore on foot using a guide book. There are plenty of places to have a picnic and the Island Bar on the eastern side is a popular place to watch the sun go down over Sydney harbor while sipping a favourite beverage. Playing tennis on a grass court, taking a swim in a netted swimming area in a former slipway, kayaking and fishing are some of the leisure activities that can be enjoyed here.

Stay at the Langham Sydney to experience its intimate and friendly atmosphere and to enjoy the comfort of its elegant and spacious contemporary guest rooms and suites and the convenience of a great location. As a much appreciated premier Boutique Hotel Sydney, not only are guests provided with a range of up to date facilities and amenities among which are its award winning restaurants and bars and wellness facilities that offer a range of holistic treatments and modern leisure areas. Take advantage of the promotional packages at this five star hotel Sydney to experience its timeless elegance.

Umanga Kahandawaarachchi is a passionate travel writer who writes under the pen name, Maggie Tulliver. Her field of writing covers a wide array of content and articles related to travel and hospitality industry.