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Gramping on Cockatoo Island

“I’ve been to Shark Island, Fort Denison, Goat Island and even Clark Island but for some reason never Cockatoo Island, until now! And while we were happy to be glamping there – we were also enjoying our first time gramping!” Tim Elwin and his family discover the delights of a mini-stay on Sydney Harbour.

Glamping Camp Site

What’s Gramping? Well you all know what camping is … and some of you may know what glamping is … but Gramping? Well Gramping is the burgeoning (and fun!) trend to multi-generational camping – with grandparents. The Gramping Association is in its second year promoting a great initiative to ensure that grandkids and grandparents spend quality time together, and although we didn’t have any grandparents with us, there were plenty there having a great time with their children and grandchildren.

We travelled to the island in style by water taxi but if you’re watching the dollars you can access the island by ferry from numerous locations around the city (e.g. Balmain, Darling Harbour, Parramatta or Circular Quay) or you can even moor your own boat in one of the many berths around the island.

Ava & Will Checking Out the Tent

Once we arrived onto the island it was a quick check-in to our waterfront tents where Will did the usual bounce test to ensure the beds were in good order. He approved.


Before the adventures began, a good spray of Aerogard was in order! A must for any camping trip.

Island Bar & Insert
Heading out to the middle of the island, we found the first of many amazing tunnels to explore.

Ava in tunnel

We climbed up the hill onto the top of the island and found some really cool old warehouses. Will kept finding cracks in walls to look through, with the comment of “Woooh, look at this Dad!” each and every time.

Will looking through wall

We wandered around exploring the top of the island until dinner time then headed down the hill to what we called base camp. We grabbed a BBQ dinner pack and a bottle of wine which all went down wonderfully and made us sleepy.

Ava's Ghost Story

Before we went to bed Ava thought it would be a good idea to tell Will a ghost story in true camping style, so she whipped out the torch and made up a very scary (and quite funny) ghost story. Sweet dreams Will …

Sunrise over Sydney

An early morning rise afforded us some stunning views of the sunrise over Sydney. We wandered around the island taking in the amazing colours the morning light cast over the harbour.

Sunrise over Cockatoo Island
As the sun rose into the sky we opted for a leisurely start to the day, with a lazy cook-up of bacon and egg rolls on the BBQ. We then headed back up the mountain (OK, its a hill) for another stroll around adventure.

Family in Solitary confinement

The old prison was fascinating to walk through, and we really did get a feel of what it was like back in the 1800s. Showing Will and Ava the small spaces ‘where naughty kids were locked up in the olden days’ not surprisingly resulted in two very well-behaved children for the rest of the day!

We agreed that our Gramping experience had been one of the best mini breaks ever – and all in our own city! Ava summed it up by saying it was ‘the best adventure time!’ We would highly recommend heading over to Cockatoo Island for a mini-stay and checking out the camping and glamping accommodation … and take a grandparent or four for some Gramping!

For more information on Cockatoo Island and Glamping visit

Tim lives in Sydney with his wife Louisa and their kids, Ava (7) and Will (3). His family are always on the search for a great feed – whenever they aren’t cooking at home! They love to get out and explore everything local, national and international.


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