New Years Eve on Cockatoo Island. 3

One of the best places on this planet to see fireworks at New Years Eve, is Sydney Harbour… and if you want a prime position, that is family friendly, without the crowds then Cockatoo Island is the place to be, and we were lucky to be there last year.


Camping in the middle of Sydney Harbour on New Years Eve, with your family is a once in a lifetime experience. We had dreamt on staying on the Island, to bring in the New Year ever since we had camped there a couple of years ago. (check it out here!) We were looking forward to be away from the crowds, somewhere we didn’t have to travel home from and one that was family friendly. Our two nights on Cockatoo Island didn’t disappoint.

Check out our video on our time on Cockatoo Island: click link here! 


There are quiet a few options for New Years Eve on the Island. They have Apartments, Glamping, camping (where they supply the tent) and a bring your own tent and supplies… and this last option was (of course) the one we took!

To camp (or even stay in anywhere) on Cockatoo Island you need to be prepared, just to get a spot on the island you need to book early, often as soon as the bookings open. So our first step was to sign up to the Websites Newsletter (sign up here) and when we got notification that the bookings were open, we looked at our options. We chose to book for two nights camping in reserve A. This not only gave us a excellent spot but it also allowed us to have time to enjoy all the activities that New Years Eve on the Island had in store for everyone.


And there was so much to do! The staff, who are mostly are volunteers, provide family friendly experiences to keep the kids, as well the adults, entertained. Crafts, games and facepainting as well as daily movie screenings keep the kids happy. They also do great self guide tours, audio tours, demonstrations, displays and a kids self guided scavenger hunt, as well as a guided tour and a special kids guided tour called “Crooked Characters”. All these tours and demonstrations are there not only to entertain but also to give you a real sense of the history of the island which spans 180 years… from convicts, to a girls reform school and from ship building to the present day activities, which includes being movie sets! Seriously some awesome Australian history right there!

cockatoo island

To camp in your own tent on the island you have to carry everything on with you, so you need to be organised… and potentially downsize your camping gear if you don’t want to make a few trips back and forth. The island does provide a ferry service that runs from a nearby carpark (at an extra cost) or you can come via the normal ferry that runs from Circular Quay or Parramatta. We accessed the island via the normal ferry, carrying everything we needed in our back packs as well as having a small esky with some food and drinks. While on the island there is no access to an ATM, you cannot bring on Alcohol, but there is food and drink outlets. They bring on food truck type of dining options, but to be honest we had our own food (as did a lot of families) and just purchased a few drinks to get us by, although with water filling stations everywhere we didn’t need to buy much!


Check out our video on our time on Cockatoo Island: click link here!

When time come’s close to see the fireworks, people begin to place down their rugs and chairs to get a great spot. You cannot access the top of the island, this is reserved for the apartment dwellers, but never mind, because no matter where your are on the front part of the island, you will see the fireworks. There is a pontoon right in front and you are so close that the sound of each firework hits you in the chest then echo’s off the stone wall behind you, giving you a double the excitement! The party vibe kicks off, there is a DJ playing a great mix of songs, and soon everyone is ready for the 9pm fireworks. All the kids are so excited for these.. because lets be honest some of the younger ones will be sound asleep for midnight. The cruise boats on the harbour float by all lit up with their music pumping, entertaining the crowd on Cockatoo Island while we wait for midnight to roll around. People are dancing, kids are playing and everyone is getting along like we have known each other for years. When midnight comes a hush falls over the crowd and the only sounds that are heard are the fireworks cracking over head and the ohh’s and ahhh’s from the crowd.

When it is all finished we walk the short distance to our tent, so excited, amazed but mainly grateful at what we had witness from this amazing location!

What: Camping for NYE on Cockatoo Island

Where: In the middle of Sydney Harbour, NSW, Austrlia

How much: Prices vary depending on where you camp on the island ….it is pricey but considering its a once in a life time experience I thought it was worth it!

Need to know: You need to sign up to the notifications on the website and keep an eye on the website for when the bookings open (around May last year), you don’t have to camp two nights they do have one night (just NYE) options, They do bag checks on entry, A volunteer will show you to your site- it  is first come first served for each individual area, be sure you wake up early to see the sun rise on the New Year- the sun rising up from behind the Harbour Bridge breathtaking.


Have you camped on Cockatoo Island?

Where have you spent NYE that has been a once in a lifetime experience?

Check out our video on our time on Cockatoo Island: click link here!

Safe Travels


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