The general ride plan was to park on the western side of the Gladesville Bridge then explore the suburb of Balmain before taking a ferry to Cockatoo Island.
The UNESCO world-listed Cockatoo Island has been on my must-see list longer than I can remember. For three decades from 1839 it was a convict jail and then became Australia’s biggest ship-building yard between 1857 and 1991. All the historical buildings are intact, and many now host social and cultural activities, and short-term holiday accommodation.
The ferry took about ten minutes from Gladesville Wharf. The Island shows off its long history in the wide-frame view you get on approach. It is easy to imagine its ancient past as a fishing place for Australia’s original inhabitants.
Nineteenth century industrial machinery, sheds, and ship-hulks are everywhere. There is little open space on the Island as it is full of original factory, workshop, and worker dwelling buildings. There is an Upper Island, a Lower Island, and a tunnel that runs through the middle.
On the western side there is a functioning marina, and on the eastern side you see parts of Balmain and Sydney Harbour.
This is a fascinating place. On foot you could spend a day there and not see it all, so a bike makes it easy to see everything.
The ferry ride to Balmain stops at a few suburbs along the way so you get to see more of Sydney Harbour.
The ride from Balmain back to Gladesville passes through several parks and lookouts. I enjoyed Balmain’s charming architecture all the way to the Iron Cove Bridge. If you do not have an eBike or prefer not to climb a few hills, you could park closer. From Birkenhead Point it was a case of keeping the harbour on my right until reaching where I parked my car near the Gladesville Bridge.
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