Cockatoo Island | Sydney Harbour

Cockatoo Island has a long and illustrious history dating back to the time of first settlement, playing a significant role in the development of Sydney and the nation. The following is a brief timeline covering key events. Pre 1788: Frequented by sulphur-crested cockatoos, the island's first visitors were most likely the Eora people, the Aboriginal people of Sydney's coastal region. They called the island Waremah. It would have been a great base to fish from for them, in their bark canoes made from the red gum forests that once covered the island hill. 1839-1850: In 1839 the Governor of the colony of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, chose Cockatoo Island as the site of a new penal establishment to alleviate overcrowding on Norfolk Island. Convicts were put to work building prison barracks, a military guardhouse and official residences. 1850-1870: The Fitzroy Dock and a workshop are built by prisoners to service Royal Navy and other ships. 1870-1880: Prisoners relocate to Darlinghurst Gaol and the island is used for an Industrial School for Girls and a reformatory. The ship, Vernon, is anchored nearby to train wayward and orphaned boys. 1880-1900: Shipbuilding and repair activities expand steadily and Sutherland Dock is completed. The island reverts back to a gaol from 1888-1908 due to overcrowding elsewhere. 1900-1930: Cockatoo Island becomes the Commonwealth Naval Dockyard in 1913 and Australia builds its first steel warship on the island. 1930-1945: The island becomes the major shipbuilding and dockyard facility for the South West Pacific in WWII following the fall of Singapore. 1945-1965: Additional buildings are constructed for shipbuilding and repair. The refit of T-Class submarines occurs and the Navy destroyers, HMAS Voyager and HMAS Vampire, are built. 1965-1992: The island's work includes service and refit of Oberon Class submarines and construction of HMAS Success. The dockyard closes in 1992, machinery is sold off, and about 40 buildings and several wharves are demolished. 2001-present: Cockatoo Island lays dormant for a decade until the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust assumes control of the island and embarks on major restoration works. After extensive remediation works, Cockatoo Island was opened to the public in 2007. The Harbour Trust continues to actively rehabilitate the island.
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During World War II, Cockatoo Island was the main ship repair facility in the southwest Pacific. 250 ships were converted or repaired at the island, including the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In August 1943, the cruiser HMAS Hobart limped into Sydney Harbour and Cockatoo Island for repairs and modernisation after suffering torpedo damage in the New Hebrides. In 1945 HMAS Australia, a veteran of the Battle of the Coral Sea, also steamed home for repairs after suffering kamikaze attacks

During World War II, Cockatoo Island was the main ship repair facility in the southwest Pacific. 250 ships were converted or repaired at the island, including the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In August 1943, the cruiser HMAS Hobart limped into Sydney Harbour and Cockatoo Island for repairs and modernisation after suffering torpedo damage in the New Hebrides. In 1945 HMAS Australia, a veteran of the Battle of the Coral Sea, also steamed home for repairs after suffering kamikaze attacks

Cockatoo Island - Sydney - Australia - was once a convict settlement and a large shipbuilding yard......

Cockatoo Island - Sydney - Australia - was once a convict settlement and a large shipbuilding yard......

Aug. 26 1943-1944: HOBART [I] in the Sutherland Dock at Cockatoo Island - HMAS CERBERUS Museum. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Aug. 26 1943-1944: HOBART [I] in the Sutherland Dock at Cockatoo Island - HMAS CERBERUS Museum. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Cockatoo Island was largely undisturbed until 1839 when Governer Gipps chose it for the site of a new penal establishment to alleviate overcrowding on Norfolk Island. Convicts were put to work initially quarrying stone for various projects around the colony. They also built stone prison barracks, a military guardhouse, granary silos, official residences and commenced work in 1847 on the Fitzroy Dock which took ten years to complete, all now part of the island’s heritage.

Cockatoo Island was largely undisturbed until 1839 when Governer Gipps chose it for the site of a new penal establishment to alleviate overcrowding on Norfolk Island. Convicts were put to work initially quarrying stone for various projects around the colony. They also built stone prison barracks, a military guardhouse, granary silos, official residences and commenced work in 1847 on the Fitzroy Dock which took ten years to complete, all now part of the island’s heritage.

French warship 'Atalante', Fitzroy Dock, Sydney, 1873

French warship 'Atalante', Fitzroy Dock, Sydney, 1873

Balmain Coal Mine. The Birchgrove site was bought in 1895 for $15 000. Balmain Colliery produced coal from 1897 until 1931 and natural gas until 1945. It is the deepest coal mine ever to be sunk in Australia. It had poor working conditions and suffered several disastrous accidents. The property was sold in 1955 and the shafts filled in and sealed two years later.

Balmain Coal Mine. The Birchgrove site was bought in 1895 for $15 000. Balmain Colliery produced coal from 1897 until 1931 and natural gas until 1945. It is the deepest coal mine ever to be sunk in Australia. It had poor working conditions and suffered several disastrous accidents. The property was sold in 1955 and the shafts filled in and sealed two years later.

The Guardhouse at Cockatoo Island

The Guardhouse at Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Is. Sydney Harbour undated, pre 1870.

Cockatoo Is. Sydney Harbour undated, pre 1870.

Unknown Warship in Sutherland Dock, Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour pre 1930.

Unknown Warship in Sutherland Dock, Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour pre 1930.

H.M.A.S Australia. Cockatoo Is. June 1940.

H.M.A.S Australia. Cockatoo Is. June 1940.


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During World War II, Cockatoo Island was the main ship repair facility in the southwest Pacific. 250 ships were converted or repaired at the island, including the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In August 1943, the cruiser HMAS Hobart limped into Sydney Harbour and Cockatoo Island for repairs and modernisation after suffering torpedo damage in the New Hebrides. In 1945 HMAS Australia, a veteran of the Battle of the Coral Sea, also steamed home for repairs after suffering kamikaze attacks

During World War II, Cockatoo Island was the main ship repair facility in the southwest Pacific. 250 ships were converted or repaired at the island, including the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In August 1943, the cruiser HMAS Hobart limped into Sydney Harbour and Cockatoo Island for repairs and modernisation after suffering torpedo damage in the New Hebrides. In 1945 HMAS Australia, a veteran of the Battle of the Coral Sea, also steamed home for repairs after suffering kamikaze attacks

▶ Goat Island. Sydney Harbour. - YouTube

▶ Goat Island. Sydney Harbour. - YouTube

Interior Gunpowder Magazine - Goat Island

Interior Gunpowder Magazine - Goat Island

Convict built wall - Goat Island

Convict built wall - Goat Island

Goat Island gunpowder magazine, built to the order of Governor Bourke in 1836. The smaller building on the left hand side was built as a Guard House in the same year. Both buildings were still in good condition when the island was transferred from the control of the Maritime Services Board to National Parks and Wildlife Service in May 1994. Photograph taken October 23, 1923.

Goat Island gunpowder magazine, built to the order of Governor Bourke in 1836. The smaller building on the left hand side was built as a Guard House in the same year. Both buildings were still in good condition when the island was transferred from the control of the Maritime Services Board to National Parks and Wildlife Service in May 1994. Photograph taken October 23, 1923.

Goat Island - Place of punishment for prisoners c1835-45 painted by Frederick Garling

Goat Island - Place of punishment for prisoners painted by Frederick Garling

Shark Island - A day away from busy city life, where you can take a picnic and relax with friends.

Shark Island Shark Island – A Small Picnic Island situated in the middle of the Rose Bay on Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour).

The beach at Shark Island, Sydney Harbour National Park.   Located at the mouth of Rose Bay, Shark Island gets its name from its shape - not its wildlife! Known as a great spot for fishing and picnicking.

The beach at Shark Island, Sydney Harbour National Park. Located at the mouth of Rose Bay, Shark Island gets its name from its shape - not its wildlife! Known as a great spot for fishing and picnicking.

Snapper Island, Sydney Harbour

Snapper Island, Sydney Harbour

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