The Cockatoo Island / Wareamah Concept Vision was developed in 2021 for the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust [SHFT], to outline a new future for its ongoing restoration and regeneration. The vast nature of the island and the many precincts means that it is likely to be delivered in several stages over the coming decade. It is a complex place with many supporters and stakeholders which has a special place in the minds of many in Sydney and around Australia.
The island is the largest in Sydney Harbour, and has a long and multilayered history as a convict prison, a school, a naval ship building yard and now as a major public gathering place. Cockatoo Island / Wareamah is the geographic pivot point in Greater Sydney. At the heart of Sydney Harbour, linking Sydney’s ‘global city’ to the dynamic growth of Parramatta and beyond to Western Sydney.
The Trust has moved over recent years to rectify the missing narrative of the First Nations connection to the island. These changes respond to these changes in approach and in the telling of the stories of the place. Cockatoo Island / Wareamah remains a place of significance to First Nations Peoples from Sydney and other regions, believed to be a sacred women’s place. It holds a significant geographic position in Sydney Harbour — at the mouth of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, intersecting with multiple First Nations. It is a unique place not exclusively associated with one particular clan group, but rather a place visited and used by many.
Another ambition of the project was to invigorate Cockatoo Island / Wareamah with a renewed focus as a place for all types of people, and particularly local Sydney residents to enjoy more often — no longer seen as a place visited ‘once in 1000 days’ for a concert, art event or a weekend of camping. It should be a site with more to offer for all ages and abilities, with a variety of things to do, a more flexible public domain, increased greening and greater integration of interpretive and original heritage layers.
The Cockatoo Island / Wareamah Concept Vision
Lead Consultant: Turf Design Studio
Architecture: Breathe Architecture
First Nations Strategist: Cox Inall Ridgeway
Illustrations/Artist: Mark Gerada