South West Rocks Travel Guide

  • A small piece of the wreck
    A small piece of the wreck
    by iandsmith
  • Beach in front of the main town
    Beach in front of the main town
    by iandsmith
  • Rocks at the northern end
    Rocks at the northern end
    by iandsmith

South West Rocks Things to Do


    Back in the car, we depart Smoky Cape Lighthouse and follow the tourist route to Trial Bay Gaol, South West Rocks best known tourist attraction. Out the front of the Gaol entrance is a huge free carpark.This time, I decided to go and have a look at the inside of the Gaol. On paying my entrance fee, I went walking around this old Gaol that was built...


    South West Rocks does have some very nice beaches and it's also where the Macleay river enters the ocean. The tide must have been out, because a family was playing cricket on the sandy river bed. We were at Horseshoe Bay, the most popular beach in the town, and is located at the end of the main street. It's patrolled by lifeguards during the...

  • Whales and wildlife

    There we were, intently gazing into the rock pools at Trial Bay, when I heard a noise and turned around. Lo and behold, less than 100 metres away, was a Humpback Whale! So, for the next half hour, Lorraine and I watched an eventually saw about 20 of them in different parts of the bay, though none ever as close as the first.Later, when we walked...

  • The world of insects

    I was in the national park area below the old gaol when I came across a bush. Nothing grand, just a small one about three metres by about eight; yet here on this bush I came across an extraordinary number of insects, some of which I've pictured here.I learnt, for instance, that the blue and back bee is called a cuckoo bee and leaves its eggs in the...

  • Smoky Cape Lighthouse

    One of the things people do around here is head a short distance south and climb to Smoky Cape Lighthouse from where there are splendid panoramas north and south. I once rode my bike up here; trust me it is steep.Be prepared for the wind up here also. As with exposed places anywhere it absolutely rips through when a strong wind is about. All these...

  • Trial Bay Gaol

    My advice here is to take the guided tour. This is one of the main tourist attractions of the North Coast of N.S.W. and it's now run by the National Parks and Wildlife.Trial Bay Gaol opened in 1886 as a works prison and utilised in World War One as a German internment camp, closed in 1918. There is much history that has been left in pictures and...


South West Rocks Off The Beaten Path


    After enjoying the views from Captain Cooks look-out, it was time to make the climb to the Lighthouse. The path is concrete and there are NO STEPS. It is a short walk, but very steep in some places, so I found hanging on to the rail was helpful. The walk to the top passes by the lovely old Lighthouse keepers cottages that can be rented out. At the...


    As it happened, we were following Tourist Drive 12 from Kempsey to South West Rocks. This route doesn't take the shortest route, but the most scenic route, so we turned off the main road and followed the tourist sign "12" to Arakoon and Smokey Cape Lighthouse in the Hat Head National Park.We arrived at a large car-park with views of the Lighthouse...

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South West Rocks Sports & Outdoors

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    by iandsmith Written Mar 26, 2012

    This is a great place for fishing; whether in the river, the estuary (where you'll find me) or the sea.
    I know a couple of places, one I'm not about to reveal but the other is where the river exits to the sea. Strong tidal influence but it attracts lots of fish.
    Also, be prepared to lose some gear, there's lots of rocks around.

    Equipment: Get some lighter gear unless you're heading out to sea. It helps because when you snag it's easier to snap the line.
    There are fishing shops in South West Rocks so you can always pick up some gear if you're short.

    Calm waters in from the sea One of the beaches you can fish on
    Related to:
    • Camping
    • Fishing
    • National/State Park

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South West Rocks Favorites

  • Walking the walk

    If, as so many do, you choose to stay at Trial Bay beneath the old gaol, then one of your options is to walk along the beach to South West Rocks. I did this with Lorraine. It started out a nice day and the walk, which should take you around a leisurely hour one way, was such a romantic and pleasant thing to do.Supplemented by a nice lunch we then...

  • More of the story

    The actual town of South West Rocks was established in 1896. It grew as a result of a new mouth to the Macleay River being established a little further north. This resulted in the construction of the Pilot's Station in 1902 and the town slowly grew up around this activity. The name of the town is a result of the pilot officer telling vessels to...

  • A little background

    Located 463 km north of Sydney, South West Rocks is one of those coastal towns which is often by-passed by holidaymakers. In fact it is one of the quietest and most attractive towns on the Mid North Coast. It is a true hideaway with some notable television personalities using it as their getaway because no one pays much attention to them and they...


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