Sydney Harbour Islands

This new guided tour provides a fascinating insight into the history of the 13 Sydney harbour islands, from Garden Island and the Royal Australian Navy base in the east, to Cockatoo Island, the prison-turned-dockyard in the west. The app includes a GPS-enabled map with each stop clearly marked, a range of multimedia and text detailing each islands’ past, and advice about accessing the islands. Estimated tour length: One day / at your own pace


Available for both Apple and Android devices on App Store and Google Play.


By boat or ferry, on foot with friends or family, or from the comfort of your armchair, discover and enjoy unknown historical facts about these islands:

  • Did you know Cadigal women collected oysters at a meeting place known as Tubowghule where the Sydney Opera House now stands?
  • Why was Fort Denison known as ‘Pinchgut Island’?
  • In the nineteenth century, Balmain and Glebe Point residents complained about the terrible smell coming from Glebe Island. The Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades in 1882 found that in one year alone, a staggering 524,415 sheep, 69,991 cattle, 31,269 pigs and 8,348 calves were slaughtered there.
  • Did you know scavenger boats retrieved a range of detritus around Goat Island in 1904, including 2,189 dogs, 1,652 fowl, 1,033 cats, 29 pigs, nine goats and one monkey?

CLICK TO ENLARGE A day’s picnic on Clark Island 1870, by Montague Scott. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales (a3449002 / ML 3)


Text: Nicole Cama
Editing: Karen Bryant, Jacqueline Spedding
Actors: Rebecca Havey
Sound Engineer: Andrei Shabunov
Audio Producer: Anna Messariti
Historical imagery:  Australian National Maritime Museum; City of Canada Bay Library; City of Sydney Archives; Library of Congress; National Library of Australia; State Library of New South Wales; State Library of Queensland; State Library of Victoria; State Records New South Wales Some images used in this app are in copyright. To get copies or seek permission to reuse any of the images within this app, please check the image credit and contact the source organisation
Main tour image: A day’s picnic on Clark Island 1870 by Montagu Scott. Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW (a3449002 / ML 3) This page; A view of Sydney N.S.Wales on entering the Heads the distance of Seven Miles 1809 by GW Evans. Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW (a1313026 / PXD v3 no 1)
Authors (further reading): Robin Derricourt, Mark Dunn, Laila Ellmoos, Shirley Fitzgerald, Patrick Fletcher, Catie Gilchrist, Ian Hoskins, Leonie Masson, Peter Reynolds
App developed by MyTours
Content developed by Nicole Cama for the Dictionary of Sydney
Project Management: Kim Hanna
Multimedia: Linda Brainwood
Thanks to Jacqueline Spedding, Co-ordinating Editor, and Jenny McInerney, Editorial and Research Assistant, Dictionary of Sydney.
The Dictionary of Sydney is proudly supported by the City of Sydney


  1. Introduction
  2. Tubowghule – Bennelong Island
  3. Mat-te-wan-ye – Fort Denison
  4. Booroowang – Garden Island
  5. Billong-olola – Clark Island
  6. Boambilly – Shark Island
  7. Me-mel – Goat Island
  8. Darling Island
  9. Glebe Island
  10. Berry Island
  11. Wareamah – Cockatoo Island
  12. Wareamah – Cockatoo Island
  13. Gong-ul – Spectacle Island
  14. Ar-ra-re-agon – Snapper Island
  15. Rodd Island
  16. The End

Detail from MS Hill's 1888 map 'The City of Sydney',  a birds-eye view over the city looking to the south and west across Darling Harbour.