In my opinion, the town and area around South West Rocks is one of the most beautiful on the entire eastern seaboard of Australia.
Located on the mid north coast of New South Whales, ‘The Rocks’ is about 5x hours drive from both Sydney and Brisbane.
It is popular belief that this part of the country has the most liveable year round climate. Summer isn’t overly hot, and mid Winter daytime temperatures often hover in the mid twenties. This results in keeping the seawater around twenty degrees, great for swimming!
Furthermore the local beaches and coastline are stunning. Trial bay is protected by the main headland of Laggers Pt and Smokey Cape in the majority of winds and swell. This makes it an easy swimming beach. Especially up in the far Eastern corner.
Kangaroos are literally everywhere, both in town and throughout the adjacent Arakoon and Head Head national parks. Wildlife abounds throughout the Macleay Valley. Birds of prey such as ospreys and sea eagles circle the headlands, and water dragons perch atop creek side boulders.
Closer to town the small Horseshoe Bay beach has generally light surf. A gently sloping gradient and a lifesaving patrol making it popular with families.
Standing sentry over the bay are towering Norfolk Pines which give shade and comfort to those getting out of the sun.
Nearby is the local town centre with ‘fish and chip’ shops, cafes, ice cream parlours, boutiques and a fishing tackle shop.
A large kids play ground has been built beside the beach car park. Flying foxes, a kids kitchen, swings and other fun equipment will keep the little ones entertained for hours.
On either side of the town are two small creeks. Shallow Saltwater Creek can be seen from the playground and can be good for little kids when the surf is up.
Back Creek – a short walk around the headland adjacent to the Horseshoe Bay Holiday Park known as Point Briner, is very picturesque. Particularly so on the incoming tide, when clean salt water pushes far up the sandy inlet. Therefore it is a must do – but visit when the tide is higher for swimming, snorkelling etc. The creek fishes better when it’s lower and murkier.
Along the beach and North West from Back Creek’s mouth is the entrance and bar to the massive Macleay River system. It’s large and relatively deep channel is bordered by rock walls, the southern side can be accessed by New Entrance Road. There is a sealed walk way right to the end that is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike.
The path also gives shore based anglers access to fantastic fishing, in the right conditions.
*The bar seaward from the southern wall can be shallow and dangerous. Only attempt if you are a confident experienced skipper.*
Trial Bay Gaol
Historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol sit on the headland’s cliffs above the sea, next to Laggers Point. It opened in 1886 after taking 13 years to build. During the First World War the Trial Bay Gaol was an internment camp for people of German descent living in Australia.
originally established as the township on Trial Bay in 1866.
Trial Bay was named after a ship, The Trial. She was stolen and wrecked by convicts in 1816 in the bay that now bears its name.
By 1889, South West Rocks had established itself as a popular bathing resort with people of the Macleay Valley. South West Rocks got its name most likely from the captains of passing ships. Many claimed it was safest to moor vessels near the rocks.
It’s said on 13 May 1770, Captain James Cook observed smoke from a fire on a mountain which he named Smoky Cape. The headland in front of the mountain is now the location of Smoky Cape Lighthouse.
If you are interested in more history on South West Rocks please visit the Information Centre .
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