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Dawny To Cockatoo swim

Sun, 19 Nov 2017

Dawny to Cockatoo swim is a chance to dive into Sydney’s history.

It’s a swim from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain to or around Cockatoo Island and back, depending on the distance you choose.

If you’ve ever wanted to swim in the majestic Sydney Harbour but have been hesitant for any reason, this is your chance to do it.

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.

The minimum age for this swim is 14.

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.

Swim courses

The 2.4km course in Dawny to Cockatoo swim takes you from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain around Cockatoo Island, and back.

The shorter 1.1km course takes you to Cockatoo Island 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 impossible to do both swims on the day.

1.1km to Cockatoo and back

The shorter 1.1km swim takes you around the buoys to Cockatoo Island and back.

2.4km around Cockatoo Island

The main swim takes you from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain around Cockatoo Island, and back.

While you’re there

After the Dawny to Cockatoo swim is all completed, in most years breakfast is available, often featuring sausage and egg rolls, as well as fresh fruit platters.

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.

Head into the town for brunch at Bar Contessa (a slice of NY), the local favourite Kazbah, or for a drink the Balmain Hotel.

Travel and parking

Parking is pretty tight around this area with no carparks as such.

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.


2017 results (2.3km | 1km) | 2016 results (2.4km | 1.1km) | 2015 results

Event Date

Sun, 19 Nov 2017
Event Categories:
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Official event website:
Learn More & Register


Type of event
harbour swim
Course types
around a feature/island & around the buoys
Swim lengths
1.1km & 2.3km


Dawn Fraser Pool
Balmain NSW
Balmain, New South Wales 2041 Australia
Get directions

Weather forecast

Nov 19

Mostly cloudy throughout the day.
12am 18°C 1 m/s
1am 18°C 1 m/s
2am 17°C 1 m/s
3am 17°C 1 m/s
4am 17°C 1 m/s
5am 17°C 0 m/s
6am 17°C 1 m/s
7am 18°C 1 m/s
8am 20°C 1 m/s
9am 21°C 1 m/s
10am 22°C 2 m/s
11am 23°C 2 m/s
12pm 23°C 2 m/s
1pm 24°C 2 m/s
2pm 24°C 1 m/s
3pm 23°C 2 m/s
4pm 23°C 2 m/s
5pm 22°C 2 m/s
6pm 20°C 2 m/s
7pm 19°C 2 m/s
8pm 18°C 1 m/s
9pm 18°C 1 m/s
10pm 18°C 1 m/s
11pm 18°C 1 m/s


We’ve done our best to provide up-to-date information on all the swims we list on our calendar. However, we ask that you please consult the official event website or registration location for final information, schedule, costs and terms & conditions before registering. Spotted an error? Please let us know.

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