In the 19th century, Cockatoo Island was a convict prison for the worst of the worst. But as of last night it’s a lot more welcoming thanks to the opening of Contained Sydney, a stylish new restaurant, bar and luxury adults-only hotel built in a repurposed shipping container.

“I was reading an article one day in the newspaper and Cockatoo Island came up as a place you could go camping and glamping,” says Anatoly Mezhov, the founder of Contained. “I saw the island and its history and beauty and thought we could create a really compelling food and beverage offering there. So I sent them an email.”

Mezhov and his partner Irene Polo are behind Perth’s The Mantle, an “activity hub” inside a historic warehouse in Fremantle with multiple restaurants, cocktail bars and collaborative work spaces. “The Harbour Trust really liked what we did with The Mantle, so we're starting with a six-month pop-up here and hopefully that will develop into a longer relationship,” says Mezhov.

They’ve brought Don Tapa restaurant over from Fremantle, WA. It serves South American-inspired cuisine created with produce grown on the on-site farm. The farm will be made up of high-tech food-growing containers being set up over the next two weeks. “Being on an island, deliveries and logistics of supply are an issue,” says Mezhov. “So we wanted to establish an operation where we are more self-sufficient.”

The farm will grow leafy greens, vegetables and herbs, and the plan is to have a surplus that people can buy and take home with them.

There’s also a native garden growing Australian bush foods. “We want to show people the connection between food, culture and experience,” says Mezhov. “They can actually see what a lemon myrtle plant looks like before eating it.”

Inner-west favourites Young Henrys, The Urban Winery and Archie Rose Distillery will be providing the drinks. “It all aligns with what we stand for, which is working with local craft people creating great product,” says Mezhov.

The Contained hotel, which will open next week, has two suites made from two shipping containers. Each has a queen-size bed, en suite, minibar, air conditioning, wi-fi, a tablet with access to Netflix, and a deck, as well as a shared container plunge pool.

Events will be a big part of Contained. In March, the Don Tapa chefs will collaborate with Indigenous chef Zach Green from Elijah’s Kitchen for A Night At Wareamah (Cockatoo Island’s traditional name). It will start with a welcome to country and a smoking ceremony, followed by a six-course degustation based around the Indigenous history of the island.

Contained Sydney
Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour
0452 396 073

Wed & Thu 11am–9pm
Fri & Sat 11am–10pm
Sun 11am–7pm.