23 July 2008

Cockatoo Island

On Sunday, Craig and I went to Cockatoo Island, which is Sydney's largest island. The island was originally used as a prison. The barracks where the convicts were kept are still on the island; they were built by the convicts themselves.

Eventually it became clear that the convicts were living in seriously inhumane conditions, so the prison was moved to Darlinghurst. After that, the Australian government, in a move that can only be described as...inscrutable, decided to turn the inhumane prison into a boarding school for wayward girls. Interesting development, no? Also, there was a school for wayward boys on a boat tethered to the island. I don't want to shock your pristine sensibilities, but it is a matter of historical fact that there were many inappropriate meetings between the boys and girls. Surely, hindsight is 20/20, but anyone could have seen that coming, right?

Later, the island became a shipyard and much of Australia's wartime shipbuilding went on at Cockatoo Island. Then the island was closed to the public until 2007; now it's an art venue for the Biennale. There's a free ferry from Sydney Harbour to Cockatoo Island–I love how much free stuff this city puts together.

Amazingly, most of the giant ship building equipment and old buildings are still there, so the whole island looks like industrial art. It's amazing...

Most of the art on Cockatoo Island was video installation stuff, but honestly we found the industrial stuff much more interesting.

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