Trail Bay Gaol is one of the main attractions in the South West Rocks vicinity. It can be found just east of the coastal town, in Arakoon State Conservation Area.
The gaol was established in 1876, but was used for less than two decades before being closed. It was then used again during WWI for a short period, as a German internment camp. You can find a detailed history of its past here.
Artefacts from the gaol
Today you can explore the two cell blocks (some cells are set up as they would have originally been used) and see the remains of some of the other buildings, like the kitchen. From the watch tower, there are also some great views that should not be missed.
This view is just a teaser
Also on the site is a museum that contains relics and photographs of the gaol's past. If you're visiting the gaol in August or early September, there may be sculptures too, which are part of the annual Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition.
The closest place to stay near this attraction is Trial Bay Gaol campground on the beach, but you'll need to bring your own tent or caravan. There's also plenty of accommodation at South West Rocks, while Hat Head and Kempsey are located to the south, and Macksville, Scotts Head and Nambucca Heads to the north (the latter is widely know for its famous V-Wall).
While you're in the area, another attraction to check out is Smokey Cape Lighthouse, found in Hat Head National Park. It's one of the oldest lighthouses in New South Wales. Fish Rock Cave is another one for divers.
Further inland, there is Clybucca Historical Site, which includes a large midden called the Golden Hole. Between South West Rocks and Nambucca Heads you'll also find Yarriabini National Park, which offers views over Trail Bay and the Macleay River estuary from Yarrahapinni Lookout on Mount Yarrahapinni.
Where: Cardwell Street, South West Rocks, NSW 2431
When: Open 9.00am to 4.30pm daily (closed Christmas Day). Open 9.00am to 6.00pm during NSW Christmas school holidays.
Cost: Adults: $7.50, Concession: $5.00, Family: $20.00