Join a pre-show tour on Cockatoo Island

Come for the opera… discover the history!

During the 1860s, Bizet’s music career was still in its infancy, and the Parisian composer laboured to make a living from his talents. Indeed, Carmen’s premiere was still several years off. As Bizet toiled away, so too did the convicts of Cockatoo Island, located on the other side of the globe. By this time, the island’s convict era was beginning to wind down, but its inmates continued to perform backbreaking work.

The Harbour Trust, in partnership with Opera Australia, invites Carmen on Cockatoo Island ticket holders to book a pre-show tour of the island’s Convict Precinct, which is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List with 10 other convict sites nationwide. During this 30-minute tour, you’ll visit striking sandstone buildings from the convict era and discover the harsh living conditions endured by the inmates.

Tour Dates:

  • Saturday 26 November
  • Sunday 27 November
  • Friday 2 December
  • Saturday 3 December
  • Sunday 4 December
  • Friday 9 December
  • Saturday 10 December
  • Sunday 11 December
  • Friday 16 December
  • Saturday 17 December
  • Sunday 18 December

Tour Times:

  • 5:00pm to 5:30pm
  • 5:30pm to 6:00pm

Max. 25 participants per session


$15 per person.

Meeting Point:

The tour will commence from the grassed area outside the barracks in the Convict Precinct. Tour-goers are advised to arrive 5 minutes prior to the ticketed time to ensure a prompt start. Please allow for time to walk up to the Convict Precinct on the upper island, as it is a 10-15 minute walk from the ferry wharves. Look out for directional signage along the way.


The tour commences in the Convict Precinct, located on the upper island – a 10 to 15 minute walk from the ferry wharves, up a steep drive. The island is a former industrial site with uneven grounds and some trip hazards, so it is recommended that tour-goers have a moderate level of fitness and wear appropriate footwear. Due to this, the tour is unfortunately not suited to wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

How to book:

To book, simply add the 30 minute pre-show tour to your cart after choosing your tickets to Carmen on Cockatoo Island.

If you already have tickets to Carmen on Cockatoo Island, simply sign in to your account and go to 'upcoming performances'.

Join a tour on Cockatoo Island
Join a tour on Cockatoo Island


Join a tour on Cockatoo Island

Other tours on Cockatoo Island

In addition to this special pre-performance tour, Cockatoo Island has a suite of day and night tours that cater for different ages and interests – from history buffs and ghost seekers through to families and seniors’ clubs. Find out more about what other tours are on offer.

Find out more

In partnership with The Harbour Trust

The Harbour Trust protects and manages some of the most historically significant foreshore sites on Sydney Harbour, including Cockatoo Island / Wareamah, North Head Sanctuary, Sub Base Platypus in North Sydney, and Headland Park in Mosman. Learn more