The islands within beautiful Sydney Harbour hold great cultural and historical significance. Cockatoo Island is one of 11 Australian colonial convict sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list and Shark Island is popular for picnics, with spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline.
Getting to these two islands as well as Fort Denison, near the iconic Sydney Opera House, and Garden Island is easy on a ferry from Circular Quay. Harbour cruises such as the wonderful Aboriginal-led Tribal Warrior Harbour Cruises are available to other islands in the harbour.
Cockatoo Island is the largest of the harbour islands. There are tours of the convict sites and heritage shipyards. You can even stay a night camping and enjoy a barbecue on one of the great natural harbours in the world and watch a glorious sunrise over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Fort Denison is a former defence facility. Take a guided tour of the museum and reserve a table at Fort Denison Restaurant for delicious food and marvellous views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s one of the hottest spots to watch Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks.
For fascinating naval heritage, visit the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre on Garden Island. As this island in Woolloomooloo Bay is part of active naval base, you’ll need to take a ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay and alight at Garden Island. Entry into this museum is free.