A Wanderlust’s Guide to Sydney Harbour Islands

A breathtaking panorama of Sydney Harbour with its icons - the backdrop for a Clearview harbour cruise

Ahoy there, mateys! Are you looking to set sail on Sydney Harbour and discover its many hidden treasures? Our harbour is home to some splendid islands to get away from it all, each boasting its own unique element and showcasing Australia’s rich Aboriginal, colonial, and naval history.  Exploring these islands is the perfect way to break from the norm and create new memories! From a legendary fortress overlooking the harbour icons to a World-heritage listed cultural hub featuring historic edifices, these islands offer a great day out in Sydney.

Expand your knowledge about some of the popular ones, what they hold, and what you can do once you’re there!

Cockatoo Island

Nestled right at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers is the largest floating land in Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island. What once was a brutal convict colony, an industrial school, and eventually a large shipyard, is now a hub of adventure and entertainment – a regular waterfront venue for massive cultural festivals and annual events.

From exploring historic landmarks to camping or glamping under the stars, this island has something for everyone – you are guaranteed to return home with a newfound appreciation for island life! And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even try a hand at kayaking, rock climbing, or even ghost tours!

Australian Cruise Group runs regular dinner cruises on Sydney Harbour which offers you a chance to enjoy a unique on-water perspective of Cockatoo and many other islands, including Shark and Clark Islands, and Fort Denison, in one go! 

Fort Denison

This tiny island with a distinctive Martello Tower made from 8,000 sandstones, is where you can step back in time and step up your adventure. With breathtaking views of the harbour and a history as rich as our famous scones, this iconic fort will transport you to a bygone era of intrigue and adventure. 

This steep rocky island was a former defence facility, and a prison before that, and has now been drastically modernised into a museum, wedding venue, movie location, and a fancy waterfront dining venue. The fort stays open seven days a week except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and offers guided tours which let you go up with Martello tower.

Shark Island

With 360° views of Sydney’s glittering cityscape from almost anywhere, Shark island is one of Sydney's favourite picnic spots, and like the name itself, resembles the shape of a shark! Pack your picnic hamper, head inland, and sit under the many shady trees, on the grassy areas, or on the picnic benches. Sharks Island also boasts its own beach, making it the perfect spot to conquer your fears and make a splash – snorkelling and swimming are popular pastimes in the region. 

The island’s secluded location and lack of crowds makes it the perfect quick-escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. And due to its limited capacity it is essential to book in advance to secure your spot and enjoy an uninterrupted getaway!

Clark Island

This tucked-away nugget just off the tip of Darling Point was once just a simple patch of wild vegetation until Lieutenant Ralph Clark arrived with the First Fleet, and tried setting up a veggie garden. Just like in the case of its neighbouring Shark Island, the number of visitors are limited, and advance booking is essential to explore this tiny piece of land. 

You can click exquisite shots of the island from one of our Sydney Harbour day cruises or, for a more intimate experience, you can take a stroll through lush gardens and along scenic walking trails, or relax with a picnic at one of the island's many picturesque spots.

Posted on April 05, 2023

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