Dawn Fraser Pool
The Dawny to Cockatoo Challenge is a chance to dive into Sydney's history.
Swims leave from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain to (1.1km) or around (2.4km) Cockatoo Island and back, depending on the distance you choose.
You wouldn't think swimming in the harbour would be so good, but the water is fine, and swimming through Sydney's maritime heritage, and some of our most impressive harbourside real estate, is a treat. Harbour swims provide unique perspectives on the city and the harbour.
And let us assure you that if you have any fears about the cleanliness of the water in the harbour, forget them; the water is as clean as it has ever been.
A world heritage listed site
The crux of the Dawny to Cockatoo swim is the lap around Sydney's UNESCO world-heritage listed site, Cockatoo Island.
In Sydney's early years, it operated as a gaol and held convicts who had reoffended after arriving in Australia.
It was then the site of one of the country's largest shipyards, operating all the way until 1991.
In 1991, a lot of the major buildings were demolished after it was closed, but some buildings remained.
It was proclaimed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2010 because of its significant place in Sydney's history.
This swim is a brilliant chance to take in some of the sites around the island, and Sydney Harbour, in a way very few people do.
The 2.4km course in Dawny to Cockatoo swim takes you from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain, anti-clockwise around Cockatoo Island, and back.
The shorter 1.1km course takes you inside and close to Cockatoo Island following an anti-clockwise course around a course set by buoys, and back.
Each part of this swim gives you a chance to take in a bit of Sydney's colonial history, from the magnificent houses on the water, to Cockatoo Island itself.
It's a harbour swim, so the course should be smooth sailing, aside from the occasional current.
Both swims start within a few minutes of each other so they can avoid the ferry schedule to Cockatoo Island, so unfortunately it's not possible to do both swims on the day.
After the Dawny to Cockatoo swim is all completed, enjoy the recently refurbished, and historic, Dawn Fraser Baths.
The inner-western suburb of Balmain is one of Sydney's oldest neighbourhoods and you can lose a whole day walking the streets of the old town, stopping in at the speciality shops, cafes and restaurants.
From the nearby wharf, you can catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island, Sydney CBD or Darling Harbour.
Parking is pretty tight around this area with no car parks as such. Look for unrestricted parking available along Fitzroy Avenue and around Elkington Park.
You could catch the ferry to Balmain and add a walk through the town on either side of your swim - you won't be disappointed. Bus routes also service the area.
Dawn Fraser Pool
1.1km & 2.4km
2.4km The Dawny To Cockatoo Challenge
1.1km The Dawny Challenge
On-the-day entries are $45.
Note: It is not possible to do both swims as they start within 10 minutes of each other in order to fit in between the ferry schedule.
A booking fee applies to all entries
Balmain NSW, Australia
COVID Vaccination Policy
Entrants should be fully vaccinated to participate in this event.