For the first time NSW Parks & Wildlife opened up public access via one ferry ticket to 4 of Sydney’s iconic Harbour islands (Fort Denison, Shark Island, Clarke Island and Garden Island) during October 2009 on weekends as part of the month long Crave Sydney festival.
Events NSW kindly gave me a ticket to “Sydney Harbour Island Hopping” so I could write about the experience of exploring the islands and learning about their history.
Each island you visit as part of Sydney Harbour Island Hopping will showcase elements of Sydney’s diverse natural and cultural heritage – Shark Island will be transformed to a fantasy island with a group of life-size dinosaur puppets; explore Indigenous art and culture on Clark Island, discover Garden Island’s naval history and beautiful gardens with the option of lunch at historical Fort Denison to celebrate the fine food available in Sydney.
Tickets for Sydney Harbour Island Hopping cost $48.50 for adults and $16.50 for Children (1-16years). Ferries for these tickets leave between 930am and 3pm. I wouldn’t recommend catching a ferry later than 11am if you want to spend some time resting & relaxing on Shark or Clark Island, perhaps with a family picnic or reading a good book.
You can optionally add a 2 course meal $58 or 3 course meal $70 (less for kids) at Fort Denison Restaurant to the Sydney Harbour Island Hopping ticket. Ferries for these tickets leave between 12pm and 130pm. I would definitely recommend the 12pm ticket to give you time to explore all the islands after spending 1-1.5hrs at Fort Denison for lunch
The trip begins at Wharf 6, Circular Quay where you’ll hop onto a Matilda Cruises boat, hopefully with the same friendly and knowledgeable captain I encountered. View video of friendly “Sydney Harbour Island Hopping” ferry captain
Your ticket gives you hop on hop off access to each island, with ferries to the next island (in a 1 way direction) operating every 1/2 hour so you can choose to spend a short or long time on each island depending on how much it interests you.
I travel a lot and sometimes the staff at tourist/travel events are bored or unhelpful but in this case each island had many helpful friendly staff from Crave Sydney and NSW Parks & Wildlife there to answer questions and tell visitors about the history of each island.