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Discover Sydney’s Top Eight Islands

Make like Yogi Bear and Boo Boo and bring along a picnic basket for an island hopping adventure. It’s pretty unusual to find a city that features little islands, however Sydney fits the bill! Each island in Sydney’s waters is unique and warrants exploration. Sail your own course on-board a Choice Charters luxury vessel.

1. Clark Island

A tiny wee island measuring only 0.9ha. Located just off Darling Point, Clark Island commands amazing views (just like anywhere in the harbour really). There is no regular ferry to this little patch of lawn, however it could easily be part of an itinerary if you were to travel on a Choice Charters vessel. Unlike Bare Island, this island is lush and fertile and was originally earmarked for Lieutenant Ralph Clark’s vegie patch back in the days of the First Fleet. Since then, there have been many incarnations and it’s now owned by the Sydney Harbour National Information Centre. Visitors can hire the island for a wedding or other functions for the day. For a spot of island hopping there’s a $7 landing fee, picnic facilities and toilets for use by visitors.

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2. Fort Denison

Before white settlement this place was known by the Eora people as Matewanye. It’s a tiny island and features the distinctive Martello tower. This place was once a creepy isolation island where prisoners were left to fend for themselves with little water or food. Known as Pinchgut by the convicts, this story was showcased in a 1959 film which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Fort Denison has thankfully left this past behind, and now is a swanky reception venue used for fancy NYE parties, weddings and more.

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3. Dangar Island

A heavily forested island that is around 29ha in size. There are no cars allowed there and for good reason, it only takes five minutes to walk from one side to the other. Located in the leafy Hawkesbury River, Dangar Island is named after the fellow who bought the island in 1864 Henry Carey Dangar. Nowadays there are plenty of residents on the island and tourists can visit relatively easily by ferry or chartered vessel.

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4. Scotland Island

Scotland island is located in Pittwater and is a verdant and pleasant place for a visit, the only other island in Sydney with a residential community living on it. The name comes from Andrew Thompson, a Scot who originally established a salt works here and named it after his homeland. Scotland Island got electricity in the 60’s and has always been a popular holiday spot. The permanent residents here see themselves as islanders and embrace off-shore eco-friendly living.

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5. Bare Island

This little barren island has always struggled with its identity. Located 30 metres from the coast of La Perouse, originally Captain Cook christened this place Bare Island because of its dry soil. He then used it as a sentry point for ward off invaders. A century later in 1890, a crumbling old fort on the island was decommissioned in 1902. After this Bare Island was briefly a retirement home for war veterans, before being handed over to the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service. More recently the island had Tom Cruise clambering all over it doing high-octane stunts for Mission Impossible II. Visitors can take a historical tour of the island on Sunday

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6. Rodd Island

This pleasant recreation reserve is a great place for a picnic. Formerly a factory, scientific research facility and training base for the US Army during WWII. Nowadays you can hire the whole island exclusively for functions at $1,250 per day or non-exclusively for $7 per person. In case of bad weather there is a hall and two gazebos. Perfect for a casual picnic or even a wedding.

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7. Cockatoo Island

This is the biggest island in Sydney Harbour and has somewhat grim and yet interesting history. This is matched by its demeanor – a slightly menacing and spooky looking naval outpost. Originally there was a prison here, then a reformatory school for girls, a naval college for boys, then a shipbuilding facility. If only the walls could talk! The island is now open to the public with regular cultural events taking place here like a Biennial and film festival. It’s also possible to stay on the island. With BBQ, camping, toilet facilities and an on-site bar and shop. Stay in style with a glamping package from $145. Normal camping starts from $45 per tent.

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8. Goat Island

This island was originally used as a naval storage facility and later as a sandstone quarry manned by convicts. One individual who had a hard luck time was Charles Anderson aka the ‘Tattooed Seaman’. He was chained to a rock on Goat Island and had to fish from there in order to survive. More recently the island was used as a set for Aussie TV series Water Rats.

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You can arrange an island-hopping adventure of your choosing with Choice Charters. Get in touch today!


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