Posted by: asprockett | September 12, 2013

Angry Birds: On Location at Cockatoo Island

AKA, the next addition to the Angry Birds gaming family. And no, the birds that were angry were, ironically, not cockatoos. I’ll get to that.

To pay homage to our most recent home (and my supporting Rotary Club in Ohio), we went to the harbor’s north shore to take a few glamor shots.

Love from Ohio (slash Nebraska slash California).

Love from Ohio (slash Nebraska slash California).

Then, as part of our Sydney touring, we visited Cockatoo Island, a formal penal colony. OK, yes, you could describe all of Australia that way, but go with me. Since it’s an island, we took the ferry on a lovely little ride through the harbor. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired or lose the fun of taking a ferry as part of my normal transportation!

Cockatoo Island was off limits to the public for more than 100 years, only opening to the public in 2005. In 2010 it was added to the World Heritage list. I feel like we’ve really hit the timing right to be able to visit the island and see the early stages of its restoration.

Old machinery workshop, currently in the process of being restored.

Old machinery workshop, currently in the process of being restored.

The island became a jail in 1839. By 1850, the prisoners were being “employed” to build ships for, among other customers, for the Royal Navy. Then for a period from 1870 to 1880, the prisoners were moved off the island and it was converted into a reformatory for girls and later also for boys. Interestingly, girls who had “gone bad” were seen as lost causes, while boys could still be reformed. Significant ship building activities (unrelated to the reformatory schools, as far as I can tell!) continued on the island and it even reverted to a jail for a period.

Nowadays you can tour the island for free and even stay (at a low cost) overnight on the island. There are guest houses to rent or you can camp in one of the many tents provided. And I’m not talking roughing it: there are plenty of toilets, showers and even a cot to sleep on at night in what I would consider to be fairly roomy tents.

Tents for overnight stays at Cockatoo Island.

Tents for overnight stays at Cockatoo Island.

We followed an audio tour around the island on a beautiful sunny day.

Touring and learning -- that's how we like to roll!

Touring and learning — that’s how we like to roll!

Part of the tour guides you along the cliffs…and through nesting seagulls. A sign warned us that the seagulls were aggressive, but wow. That is an understatement. I still think of seagulls like the ones in Finding Nemo, a bit unintelligent and pretty easy going. (“Mine? Mine?”)

There had to be at least 20 nests with mama and papa seagulls scattered about on either side of our short little walk. As we passed through the many nests along the cliffs, the nesting seagulls and the male protecting seagulls puffed themselves up and squawked aggressively, taking challenging steps in our direction. I grabbed onto Dan and rushed through (as fast as possible on cliffs in flip flops!). Dan still managed to snap a few pictures while I scuttled off onto the safety of the bridge and away from the seagull nests.

Seagull protecting its nest. It worked.

Seagull protecting its nest. It worked.

From Cockatoo Island we took the ferry to Balmain and had a delicious Thai lunch at the London Hotel. Another great day of exploring!

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