Cockatoo Island was a fun experience for our weekend 'roughing it' in the city.
First the not so good ... we were a group of six adults and four kids, so booked four tents + an extra camp pack for two of the kids (only enough for two people with each tent booked). We had a slight problem with the extra stuff booked, as the website couldn't seem to handle it, and my friend had to call the Cockatoo Island booking number, only to be told that it had to be done online, couldn't do it over the phone; very annoying. Anyway, when we checked in, we found that our booking had an extra tent site (just a plot, no tent) and no extra camp package. My friend was made to feel quite stupid, even though she'd done everything she'd been told to by the woman on the phone, including writing a comment in the box provided.
A little argument ensued, which spoiled our first impressions. Anyway, we eventually sorted it out, packed our gear onto the trolleys and headed up to the campsite to settle in.
The tents were surprisingly spacious, and had enough room for two adults plus storage room for bags etc. The chairs supplied were REALLY comfy, and the sleeping mats OK, seemed to depend on which one you got; some were more padded than others. The fours kids were packed in like sardines, not that it seemed to bother them !
The camp kitchen area was spacious, with plenty of undercover tables and chairs, and I think six barbies and two fridges for the large number of people who we shared the campsite with; I think there were around 40 or so tents occupied while we were there in mid February.
In addition to the camp kitchen, there are 10 or so shower/toilet cubicles in a large amenities block. Not sure why, but most of us couldn't get the showers to work properly; they were on a push button timer, and we could only get them to stay on for about five seconds which made for a pretty chilly shower. I wouldn't recommend staying in winter for this reason, plus the amenities block was pretty 'airy'.
An unexpected annoyance was the large number of helicopters flying down the river every 10 minutes or so, this went on all day and into the night, I think the news choppers use the river for navigation or something. We were also disturbed by aircraft noise which went on until late at night. Definately bring earplugs as mentioned on the website, it was the only way we could get to sleep.
The walks around the island are excellent, well signposted and safe, with amazing views. Lots of interesting bits and pieces to checkout. There are also old houses being renovated into guest accommodation, and I imagine these would have very picturesque views once they're completed.
You can't take alcohol onto the island, but it can be purchased at the cafe; not a huge selection but enough to get by, just a little pricey, I guess they have a captured audience. The cafe food was yum, particularly the brekkies. There was also an atm next to the cafe but it was closed most of the time we were there, made things a little difficult as the cafe only accepted cash.
All in all, we enjoyed it, even though the weather wasn't fabulous and we had overcast skies most of weekend; there were plenty of laughs and lots to do for both the adults and kids.
I'd recommend if you booked in the warmer months, took earplugs, a pack of cards ... and a sense of humour !
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC