Cockatoo Island

Top choice island in Sydney Harbourside

Image by danefromspain Getty Images

Studded with photogenic industrial relics, convict architecture and art installations, fascinating Cockatoo Island (Wareamah) opened to the public in 2007 and now has regular ferry services, a campground, rental accommodation, a cafe and a bar. Information boards and audio guides ($5) explain the island's time as a prison, a shipyard and a naval base.

A spooky tunnel passes clear through the middle of the island and you can also explore the remains of the prison. During WWII most of the old sandstone buildings were stripped of their roofs and converted into bomb shelters. Solitary confinement cells were unearthed here after being filled in and forgotten in the 1890s.

Tours run on demand ($16 per person, minimum 10) from the Visitor Centre.