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Welcome Everyone

Welcome Everyone  Featuring Indigenous Enterprise, Sunset Sessions, Cockatoo Island, 2019 with title "Welcome Everyone" in the background.

Visitors and engagement

Following the successful launch of the new Harbour Trust and Cockatoo Island websites in 2019, we sought to further enhance the digital experience through the introduction of digital programming which has allowed communities to stay connected to our sites despite the impact of COVID-19. Programming has included a range of talks, stories, virtual school excursions and kids’ activities all presented through the digital environment.

The Harbour Trust continued to grow and engage audiences in the digital space, with an audience of 61,883 engaged through social media channels and a database of 32,756 subscribers. The Harbour Trust released 60 e-newsletters distributed over 2019-20.

Interpretive elements were introduced to the sites to help visitors learn the important layered history. A movable exhibition is now in place at Sub Base Platypus, consisting of five large-scale printed panels displaying historical interpretation and images of the site.

Permanent wayfinding and interpretation signage was installed at Sub Base Platypus in late 2019, providing directional and historical information. First Nations interpretation was installed on Cockatoo Island, sharing elements of the island’s First Nations history.

New interpretation was installed within the recently restored Plotting Room at North Head Sanctuary, speaking to the history and former use of the space. The Plotting Room will be formally opened with a program of tours to be launched in the coming year.

A new brochure was finalised for North Head Sanctuary. Improvements include the revised layout of information, an updated map for better visitor orientation (including new Bondi to Manly Walk route) and expanded First Nations history.

Wayfinding signage was installed at North Head Sanctuary, Headland Park and Sub Base Platypus as part of the Harbour Trust’s contribution to the Bondi to Manly Walk.

Two pop up food and beverage operators were engaged to bring a new offering and audience: Torpedos, at Sub Base Platypus October 2019 – March 2020 and Mary’s on the Edge, Cockatoo Island from March 2020.

Advertising and market research

Over the 2019-20 period, the Harbour Trust took a strategic and targeted approach to advertising using its limited marketing spend to target key audiences and new audience segments through targeted digital advertising, re-marketing and SEO. This was supported by key advertising placements in tourist and lifestyle publications.

Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Harbour Trust is required to report on payments made for the services of advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising agencies.

Over the reporting year, the Harbour Trust undertook advertising to promote community activities, events, tours and programs held on our sites. A media advertising agency was contracted to support press advertisement bookings. The Harbour Trust did not engage a polling organisation or undertake direct mail campaigns.

External services

External services used for Advertising



Expenditure (excluding GST)

Universal McCann

Advertising of events, tours and leasing opportunities


Media and publicity

The Harbour Trust continued to build brand awareness and raise its profile through media coverage across TV, radio, print and digital channels.

The strong community interest in the Harbour Trust was demonstrated through the significant media coverage on the Independent Review into the Harbour Trust and the resulting Report released in June 2020.

The Bondi to Manly Walk received widespread media coverage as did three events at Cockatoo Island: Sydney Sail GP, Sunset Sessions and our New Year’s Eve 2019 Experience.

Through this earned media, the Harbour Trust reached an audience of more than 1.4 billion due to coverage in major international press.


In 2019-20, the Harbour Trust successfully delivered a range of significant partnership and venue hire events, which resulted in improved awareness and visibility of our sites.

A highlight of 2019-20 was a new multi-year partnership with the Sydney Opera House Dance Rites, Australia’s national Indigenous dance competition where competing dancers stay and rehearse on Cockatoo Island. Other highlights included the return of Sydney Sail GP, a new season of the Sunset Sessions live music series and New Year’s Eve 2019 Experience on Cockatoo Island.

In early March 2020, the Harbour Trust welcomed back a long-standing cultural partner, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN. Impacts from COVID-19 resulted in the temporary closure of the exhibition and subsequent re-opening in June. Supporting this event was Mary’s on the Edge, a pop-up restaurant that ran for the duration of the exhibition.

A number of scheduled events and programs were cancelled due to COVID-19, poor-air quality and significant weather events that occurred during summer.

Tours and education

Public tours and programs at Cockatoo Island, Headland Park and North Head Sanctuary were attended by 4,179 people in 2019-20. Our education programs on Cockatoo Island and North Head Sanctuary were attended by 4,947 students from 122 schools.

In October 2019, the Harbour Trust participated in Sydney Open, a Sydney Living Museum event, hosting sold-out tours at Sub Base Platypus and North Head Sanctuary. These tours provided guided access to spaces that have been closed to the public for up to 150 years. A new tour called Convict Escape Attempts was also launched in the summer on Cockatoo Island, sharing the stories of convict escape attempts and the history of the convict penal establishment.

In February 2020, Orienteering NSW opened a course at Headland Park with options for all ages and experiences accessed online allowing users to participate in the course at their leisure.

In March 2020, all tours, education and public programming were suspended due to COVID-19. The Harbour Trust pivoted to deliver education and public programming online and launched DigiTalks — a series of live webinars and DigiTales ­— as series of historical stories written by our volunteers. New digital programming included Kids Corner, a web portal enabling children to engage with our sites through craft and project worksheets. Convict Times, a primary school excursion program usually held on Cockatoo Island, was re-designed as a self-paced virtual excursion, enabling the Harbour Trust to reach rural and remote schools.

Projects, events and partnerships

Significant initiatives, including projects, events and partnerships, for 2019-20 are listed below:

Cockatoo Island:

  Launch of Overnight Fright Experience (Oct 2019)

  One Electric Day music festival (Nov 2019)

  Dance Rites (Nov 2019) — Sydney Opera House

  Sunset Sessions music series (Nov 2019 – Feb 2020)

  New Year’s Eve 2019 Experience (Dec 2019)

  Red Hot Summer Tour music festival (Feb 2020). (Note: Cancelled due to a significant weather event).

  Sydney Sail GP (Feb 2020) — Sail GP

  The 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN (From Mar 2020) — Biennale of Sydney

  Mary’s on the Edge (From Mar 2020) pop-up bistro — Mary’s Group

Headland Park, Mosman

  SIMS Community Day (Aug 2019) — Sydney Institute of Marine Science

  Filming for TV series Who Do You Think You Are? (Sept 2019) — SBS

  Middle Head Markets (Oct 2019 – Mar 2020)

  Open Studios Day (Oct 2019) — Headland Artists

  Murmurs of Nurrewin art exhibition (Nov 2019) — Chantel Mahoney

  HMAS Penguin Gate to Gate Fun Run (Nov 2019) — Royal Australian Navy

  BTC Triathlon Series (Nov 2019 to Apr 2020) — Balmoral Triathlon Club (BTC)

  Headland Park Orienteering Course (Feb 2020 – ongoing) — Orienteering NSW

North Head Sanctuary, Manly

  Annual 10k Fun Run (Aug 2019) — Sydney Striders

  TV commercial (Aug 2019) — Shell

  Commercial for Love Island TV (Aug 2019) — Network 9

  Filming for TV series Operation Buffalo (Aug 2019) — ABC TV

  Manly Fun Run (Sept 2019) — Rotary Club of Manly

  Sydney Open (Nov 2019) — Sydney Living Museums

  Filming for TV series (Dec 2019 to Jun 2020) — Endemol Shine Australia

  EcoXplore Tours (Jul 2019 to Jun 2020) — EcoXplore


In 2019-20, the role of Harbour Trust rangers was vital as bush fire risks, hazardous air quality and COVID-19 required significant management. Rangers provided on the ground support to ensure social distancing requirements were adhered to on parklands and across onsite food and beverage businesses, as well as managing crowds accessing public transport from Cockatoo Island.

Throughout the year, the team of nine rangers continued to support visitors, manage visitor security and safety, respond to emergencies and incidents, ensure compliance with our legislation and provide visitors with access to information. Rangers also provided key support at the for the New Year’s Eve 2019 Experience and other events on Cockatoo Island.