Destination NSW
New South Wales
South West RocksA picturesque coastal town located at the mouth of the Macleay River, South West Rocks is known for its beautiful Norfolk pines, rich colonial heritage and family-friendly nature.
Explore the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol, perched on the cliffs above the sea. Taking 13 years to build, it opened in 1886. In the First World War it was an internment camp for people of German descent living in Australia. Explore the rest of the peninsula on the Powder Magazine and Monument Hill walking tracks. Further south is the Smoky Cape Lighthouse. Dating back to 1891, it’s one of the oldest lighthouses in Australia and was designed by architect James Barnet, who also designed the General Post Office in Martin Place. Take in the view from the top or follow the Smoky Cape Walking Track along the coastline. Tee off at the 18-hole golf course, throw a line in to fish at the river estuary or browse the Beachside Markets on the second Saturday of the month. At the Boatman’s Cottages you can pick up some local arts and crafts or catch a movie on the weekend at The Roxy Cinema, housed in the 1926 School of Arts Community Hall.
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Things to do
Explore Arakoon National Park
Arakoon National Park, home to historic Trial Bay Gaol, offers beachside camping, rocky foreshores with great fishing and beaches perfect for whale watching and swimming. The idyllic Arakoon National Park on the NSW mid-north coast is home to the historic Trial Bay Gaol and is a wonderful place for a day trip to explore Australian history or for a family camping holiday. There are great picnic and camping spots by the tranquil Trial Bay, and the area is surrounded by rocky foreshores and sandy beaches. Trial Bay Gaol, dating from the 19th century, was built to house prison labourers who were tasked with building a breakwater. Today the gaol is a picturesque ruin and a fascinating place to explore. There are excellent fishing spots around the park’s rocky headlands and the park’s sheltered beach is a great spot for swimming, snorkelling and paddling. Don’t be surprised if you see dolphins frolicking in the calm waters and if you’re visiting around July or August, you might see whales on their annual migration.
Walk Powder Magazine track
Powder Magazine track is an excellent short walk to the historic powder magazines on the headland at Arakoon National Park on the North Coast. Only one of the constructions still stands, but you can still admire the work of early Australian stonemasons and whilst taking in the inspiring views. Detouring from the easy Monument Hill walking track, the track leads through casuarinas, banksias and craggy old bloodwoods. Crossing small brides through moist gullies of tea tree and palms, you’ll catch glimpses of Trial Bay and perhaps a majestic sea-eagle cruising the coast. The medium track meanders through a patch of cool rainforest with large glossy vines before meeting up with the Bridle trail. Cool off with a refreshing swim at Trial Bay or enjoy a refreshing drink at Trial Bay Restaurant.
Wander Beachside Markets South West Rocks
Beachside Markets South West Rocks are at located within the reserve area at picturesque Horseshoe Bay, South West Rocks. The markets are on the second Saturday of each month. Browse through the abundance of stalls, who offer fresh local produce, quality handmade products, artworks and giftware. There is always a good range of food trucks as well, that offer local and international delights. Or try one of the local restaurants or cafes nearby. The markets are located adjacent to the beach, the park and in the centre of town so there is plenty to do once you have your market fix.
Take a tour of Trial Bay Gaol
Step back in time on a guided tour of Trial Bay Gaol, soaking up the history and the amazing coastal views that surround it. The gaol opened in 1886, after 13 years of construction. It must have been a strange feeling building a prison in such a beautiful setting. The prison labourers were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. Unfortunately, the scheme failed, however, you’ll still be able to see the remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. During World War I the gaol became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers. Today, this picturesque historic ruin stands as a testament to those who lived and died here, with a museum and memorial for visitors to get a better idea of life in those days. Feeling energetic? Try the nearby Powder Magazine walking track or Monument Hill walking track.
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