Sydney harbour has loads of islands that may go unnoticed without a curious eye on the Google Map layout of Sydney. It was summer vacation and I, having felt the wallet burn of Sydney’s high prices and my own naïve spending, was on the hunt for cheap and exciting to-do’s in and around the city.
And that’s when I found it…the island with a funny name and a surprising history: Cockatoo Island.
It started off as a place to hold prisoners (hence, my being in ‘prison’); then it was converted into a shipyard (still had prisoners working on the boats); and now it’s not only a tourist attraction and historical landmark, but it’s also a film site for some of Hollywood’s biggest films including The Wolverine and Changeling.
Oh, I lost it when I found out about the Wolverine connection…total Marvel fan all the way! #Marvel
I can kind of see where they filmed The Wolverine now that I’m writing this…below is my theorised location where they filmed the scene where Wolverine was injected with Adamantium, along with shots of the real-life repair sheds they used to fix MASSIVE boats. (I felt really small the whole day).
I have my suspicions.
The day started with my landing on the island at 10 a.m. from a ferry dock near my house. Riding by ferry is the ONLY WAY to get to the island so if you’re a landlubber this trip may not be the best for you. For everyone else, it takes roughly 10-25 minutes depending on where you left off in the harbour. I recommend you depart as far inland as possible because it will give you a chance to see the gorgeous Sydney waterfronts. I, being slightly seasick, pushed through the pain to enjoy the view!
Now exploring the island itself is free making this a good spot to visit when you’re on a budget or, like me, a broke college student. The staff were incredibly friendly and they offer volunteer work as well! You walk into the visitor centre, grab a map and talk to one of the greeters to get a lead on which way you should head to start your day. You will be there for about 5 hours max and that includes a brief half-hour lunch. Also there’s no shade…bring sunscreen (or throw some shade like Minaj; this option won’t stop you from getting skin cancer though).
Yes, yes there are tunnels! And boy, are they neat! Dark, damp, spooky (the island offers Halloween events in October), historic: everything you could want in a tunnel! There are two big ones on the island and nearby are some old bomb shelters from the warring days.
By the way…
This is a bathroom located in the tunnels. Such grace and privacy!
Used to tow in the ships, and the massive parts to attach to them, these things were HUGE!! I was barely able to fit all of it into my camera! Thankfully though, my new adventures will be shot using a DSLR camera so GET READY!
My time in the slammer
Guilty of being too cool for school I wandered into the old jail cells and keep for the prisoners. Those beds looked worse than those you’d find in shady accommodation (still probably cleaner), but the prison was where the prisoners slept after they finished work. They cooked dinner in there too! You know, their prisoners were taken care of a lot better than in some other countries, but it’s still a prison.
Yep, still a prison.
This is where 1) I think they shot some movies (it was confirmed onsite that the Changeling film was shot here), and 2) they repaired parts of the ship and prepped them for attachment. Once again, I was reminded how small I was, and how grateful I was that I didn’t have to hear all those machines work in a room with very loud acoustics.
Now there is one more thing I must show you, and that is the massive Chimney that is visible from any one point on the island. Once you’re inside the chimney you may become fully aware of the scale of the operations that took place there. When I walked inside of it I began to empathize with that girl from The Ring.
Cockatoo Island also features onsite accommodation ranging from tents (for you tent people) to actual buildings with beds (for people who like nature but not while they’re sleeping). This would be a great option if you want to see the city from within, at night, on an island. I imagine it would be creepy though with all that silence
And we all know dead men tell no tales…