Head of Primary

Head of Primary

‘Learning never exhausts the mind.’

Leonardo da Vinci

This week Year 5 had the chance to explore one of Australia’s World Heritage listed convict sites, Cockatoo Island.

Cockatoo Island was first used by the Eora people as a site to gather food and to have ceremonies, then in 1839 it was settled as a convict prison. The girls learnt about the impact of the First Fleet, the ramifications for the indigenous population and the changes and developments between 1788 and 1869 when the first penal establishment on Cockatoo Island closed. The girls had the chance to explore the stunning site of Cockatoo Island and dress up and role-play characters from the island’s colourful history. The girls had a wonderful day. Here are some of their reflections.


‘I think that everyone in Year 5 thoroughly enjoyed Cockatoo Island. My favourite part was learning so much history that I have never learnt before! Did you know that only one man escaped Cockatoo Island out of every single convict. His name was Captain Thunderbolt, amazing right! It is a very special and a historical place. Before Cockatoo island was a place for convicts it was a special and sacred place for Aboriginal women. This was a place for them to have special ceremonies and celebrations. Recently in school, we have been learning all about the history of convicts. I think that going to Cockatoo Island greatly helped everyone to a better understanding of a convict’s life and the place they lived in.’ 

Tahlia Moses 5A


‘On Tuesday the 16th May Year 5 travelled to Cockatoo Island. We caught the private bus and then hopped on a ferry called Charlotte. Everyone was bubbling with excitement. Once we got to the island we walked through the tunnel. It was spooky. My favourite part of the excursion was learning about the only successful convict that escaped Cockatoo Island, Captain Thunderbolt. What I found really interesting was that the convicts only had two planks of wood to sleep on. Overall it was the most interesting excursion I have ever been on.’

Alexandra Gessner 5A


‘At Cockatoo Island we saw lots of places like the convict’s cook room, the guards room and many more. My favourite part of the day was when we saw and learned about the convicts’ bedroom. This room was about 30m long and 13m wide, the beds had eight skinny wooden planks at the bottom and the same at the top. Four men had to sleep together at the bottom and another four men had to sleep together at the top, and they were also shackled together. Another thing we learnt was that if one of the convicts behaved very badly they were sent to the other side of the island and had to stay in a black room for up to six weeks. To get into the black room there was a trap door on the roof with a ladder but when the convict was down there the ladder would be taken out so there was no way to escape.  While they slept, rats would come down and eat everything including their buttons. The convict would get less food and would only be allowed out every three days for some exercise. There were no doors or windows so in summer it was very hot and in winter it was very cold, but the worst part of the black room was that they had to live with rats.’

Zoe Henville 5A


‘Cockatoo Island was a lot of fun! First we walked up this big hill to a room where the convicts stayed.

I would hate it if I was a convict because you would not be free, the food would be terrible and you would have to share a bed with seven other people. Overall the day was a lot of fun and I would definitely go back. My favourite part was when we looked in the caves where the convicts were punished, they were put in these caves for six weeks.’

Emily Saliba 5A


Mrs Maryanne Dwyer

Head of Primary