This event will not be run in 2023
The Balmain Sports Medicine Dawny to Cockatoo Challenge is a chance to dive into Sydney’s history.
Swims leave from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain to Cockatoo Island and back, depending on the distance you choose 1.1km or 2.4km.
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.
The 2.4km course in Dawny to Cockatoo swim takes you from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain, out to Cockatoo Island in a large anti-clockwise circuit that runs along the south side of the island.
The shorter 1.1km course takes you on a smaller journey out to the island and back.
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 unfortunately it’s not possible to do both swims on the day.
Note: This year’s event will not see the 2.4km swim circumnavigate Cockatoo Island due to the ferry timetable.
2.4km The Dawny To Cockatoo Challenge
1.1km The Dawny Challenge
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.
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.
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.
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