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Weekends on the NSW Mid North Coast – South West Rocks

Sometimes we just don’t have the time or funds or energy to plan an overseas jaunt so we have a few go-to places locally that we fall back on. By locally of course I mean anywhere in Australia ūüôā

The coastal stretch of NSW offers so many beautiful places to visit it is hard to pick a favourite, but over the last few years (mostly due to family moving close to this locale) we’ve spent some time at South West Rocks on the NSW mid north coast.



South West Rocks is a quaint seaside town at the mouth of the beautiful Macleay River. It is the perfect escape for a family beach holiday,  with bush-walking and uncrowded beaches in Arakoon National Park and Hat Head National Park and great fishing at Little Bay Beach, and Trial Bay is a popular spot for both day trippers and campers alike.



The town also has a rich heritage.

The first notable piece of European history in the area was the observation ,by Captain James Cook, on 13 May 1770, of smoke from a fire on a mountain which he imaginatively named Smoky Cape. The headland in front of the mountain is now the location of Smoky Cape Lighthouse.

Trial Bay was named after a brig, The Trial, which was stolen and wrecked by convicts in 1816 in the bay  When the area was developed, it was thought that Arakoon would the major town in the area, but in the end that ended up being South West Rocks.

There are a number of stories as to how South West Rocks got it’s name, but one of the most favoured is that the captains of passing ships where told it was safest to moor their vessels near the rocks, south west of Laggers Point (the point on which Trial Bay Gaol is built). An alternate story is that they were told their moorings would be safe if they kept the rocks to their south west.



The historic ruins of Trail Bay Gaol are perched on the cliffs above the sea. It took 13 years to build, and opened in 1886 as an internment camp in the First World War for people of German descent living in Australia.

Along the Macleay River are plenty of places to fish and a shared bike and pathway goes out to the headland, making a pleasant walk.  Bull sharks however are notorious in the Macleay River so stick to walking rather than swimming in this area!



A popular spot in the township is Back Creek Bridge. ¬†It’s almost a rite of passage for kids to come and jump into the pristine waters of the channel. ¬†It’s a great place to learn to stand up paddle board as well, protected from the wind, with still and shallow waters near the edge of the channel.



The bridge also links walkways around the South West Rocks area and are definitely worth exploring, with a new board walk that connects Horse Shoe Bay and Back Creek.


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About The Amateur Adventurer

I call myself an amateur adventurer. You don't need to be a "professional" backpacker, you don't have to drop out to travel. I'm an ordinary person with a 9-5 job and everyday responsibilities. But I've made a point to have extraordinary experiences. And so can you. Follow me on my adventures and find out how.

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