How much to you think it costs to reside, at least temporarily, right in the middle of Sydney’s best view? A spare few million? An arm and a leg? Try $50 a night and a quick trip to Bunnings.

Many might be mistaken in thinking that Cockatoo Island only floats into the city’s consciousness every two years for the Biennale of Sydney, but there’s a select bunch who’ve secretly been making the island home for some time now. Once a convict gaol and an industrial station for the naval warships of the Commonwealth Naval Dockyard, Cockatoo Island is quickly becoming a sought after venue for functions, parties and festivals. The looming space has hosted a series of artistic ventures, including the graffiti art exhibition Outpost, exclusive parties and the little known, but widely applauded camping grounds.

Indeed, Sydney’s Alcatraz is perhaps beginning a transformation into the next Isle of Capri.[fold]

There are a number of camping options to choose from, all of which have a maximum stay of 30 days. The Rolls Royce of the camping world is that of ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping). This package eliminates the worst part of camping – putting up the actual tent. It’s all already been done for you, as well as the chosen waterfront location, bedding and sheets for twin or doubles, chairs, a lantern and even an esky. Other more down-to-earth options include BYO tent, with a camp kitchen and hot showers available.

Although you may wish to embrace you inner Russell Coight and cook your own bush tucker smuggled from the mainland, food is also available for purchase from the Café. All alcohol however, must be purchased on the island and is restricted to beer and wine.

While on the island, take an historical audio tour or dip your toes in the area reserved for swimming.

If camping isn’t exactly your cup of tea but you don’t want to miss out on this incredible location, the island also offers Harbour View Apartments and Heritage Holiday Houses. The properties sit directly on the edge of the water, where your beach holiday awaits you, only a short ferry ride away. These properties book out early, so plan in advance.

Sydney Ferries have services running to Cockatoo Island every day, as well as water taxis available to book. Whether you’re just visiting the city, looking for an oasis away or wanting to try something different, camping on Cockatoo Island is a great and unlikely experience.

Prices per day
Camping Site (BYO tent): $45–$50
Camping Package: $85–$95
Glamping Package: $140–$155
One Bedroom Harbour View Holiday Apartment: $230–$320
Two Bedroom Harbour View Holiday Apartment: $350–$450
Naval Cottages: $400 mid-week, $990 Friday and Saturday
Heritage Holiday House: $545

cockatooisland.gov.au