Camping in the city

There's an amazing place in the middle of Sydney, where kids can run around barefoot, ride scooters and camp out under the stars.
Cockatoo Island's campground.

It’s a little piece of magic in the middle of Sydney Harbour, called Cockatoo Island.

The world-heritage listed site, has been home to convicts and dockyards since 1839, but today a permanent tent city takes pride of place, where campers have front-row seats to the drama of the island, and children and adults alike can explore mysterious tunnels hewn through the sandstone.

It’s the ultimate ‘camping lite’ experience, with all the hard work done for you. The tents are already set up, and the deluxe versions even come with camp beds. The camp kitchen, fully kitted out with barbecues and under cover, looks out over the harbour, and lawns where you can lounge around, play or relax.

And there’s plenty of history to soak up – from the convict era to World War I, when two submarines were based there – tragically, both were lost early in the war. Right up until the 1960s, submarines docked and were refitted on the island, and because of all this history, it’s a magical place for children, full of disused cranes, machinery, slipways and those old convict cells.

The convict cells.

Cockatoo Island was chosen for the launch of the Aerogard Grandparents Survey, which found: Australians are nearly three times more likely to go to Google for advice than their grandparents and two in five (42 per cent) of Australian parents believe their children are missing out on important life lessons and skills by not spending enough time with their grandparents.

Now is a great time to spend with grandparents, as it is the 2014 ‘Gramping’ season – this is the emerging trend of camping with parents, kids and grandparents. It encourages families to come together throughout summer for a camping getaway away from the distractions of day to day life, and the ambassador is mum of two Chloe Maxwell.

Cockatoo Island is the perfect site for gramping – a smooth 30-minute ride from Circular Quay, tents set up so there is no hard work, and even a café for that early morning cappuccino!

Chloe Maxwell is an ambassador for the ‘gramping’ season.

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