Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cockatoo Island

Woke to an abysmally dull and overcast morning - disappointment - afternoon outing with our "Top of the Hill" bunch from church looked unlikely.   As time drew near for our departure from home the sky brightened so with rain jackets packed we left for the railway station. An hour's ride into the city, a 15 minute walk to the ferry at Circular Quay and the sun shone and sparkled on the water underneath the Harbour Bridge. It was cool, but the 30 minute ride to Cockatoo Island was pleasant. Alongside at the passenger terminal was the massively large white  'Radiance of the Sea' cruise ship, and  passing under the bridge with myriad of yachts and other boats of all sizes bobbing in front and past us caused large waves to send our little ferry comfortably up and down. 
Cockatoo Island is within the Sydney Harbour, steeped in history but retaining all its character.  It was used as a convict prison between 1839 and 1869 and was recently inscribed on the World Heritage list because of its significant convict history. The Fitzroy Dock, built for the Royal Australian Navy, was carved by convicts in leg irons in the 1850's, often waist deep in water.
For many years the dockyard of the RAN, some 4000 men and a few women were employed on the Island during World War 11, building some of Australia's largest ships and its first aircraft carrier. 
With its remarkable historical landmarks and the worlds first urban waterfront campground, Cockatoo Island has much to offer both overseas tourists and Aussie dwellers alike. Recently it has been the venue of the Redbull X-fighters final and the Southern Hemisphere's biggest Street Art Festival, with the upcoming launch of the Cockatoo Island Film Festival.
Another half hour ferry ride back to the main terminal set us right below the train station where we boarded our transport back home.  We arrived a couple of minutes before 6pm, armed with our bundle of hot fish and chips purchased from the local 'takeaway'.
All in all, a very pleasant afternoon!
Approaching Cockatoo Island
Old historic homestead
View of the harbour from cells
 Old Jacaranda tree in grounds of historic homestead
 Back view of Harbour Bridge

 Spectacular Opera House right at the ferry wharf