Great things to do in South West Rocks

South West Rocks is a beautiful, quaint little sea-side town on the mouth of the Macleay River. The Rocks (which it is commonly known) is half way between Sydney and Brisbane, which makes it the ideal stop-over for “That Perfect Break.”

South West Rocks offers an array of activities, whether you are a nature lover, like to indulge in a bit of history, surfer, fisher, foodie or just love to relax, then our beautiful town has you covered.

Day 1

Escape to the Historic Trial Bay Gaol

Trial Bay Gaol was established in 1876 as an experimental Public Works Gaol, where inmates were required to construct the breakwater.

The construction of Trial Bay Gaol was a long and tiresome feat due to working with hard stone, inconsistent funding, and contractual problems, however it was completed in 1886. The housing of prisoners for the Gaol did not last long and Trial Bay Gaol closed in July 1903.

In 1915 due to World War 1, Trial Bay Gaol was officially re-opened and became an internment camp for people of German consent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers.

Trial Bay Gaol was permanently closed in July 1918 and today it is open to the public for guided or non-guided tours. Exploring the Gaol, you will develop an understanding of the construction and the stories relating to the prisoners it housed. The Goal is set in a beautiful part of Arakoon National Park and the views from the watch towers are amazing.



Hike the Monument Hill Walking Track

The Monument Hill Walking Track is an easy walk starting just up the road from the Gaol and finishes at Little Bay Picnic Area.

During this walk you will surrounded by native flora and fauna, and you will capture stunning views over the Pacific Ocean. You will pass the German Monument, which was built as a tribute to the German internees who had passed away in Trial Bay Gaol during World War 1. Once you have reached Little Bay Picnic area, just walk a little further and it is here that you will find one of our spectacular beaches Little Bay. You will also love watching the many kangaroos roaming around or just chilling out.

Lunch at Trial Bay Kiosk

After an adventurous morning, enjoy a delicious lunch at Trial Bay Kiosk. The Kiosk is set within the Arakoon National Park and offers not only very tasty meals, but you will also appreciate the views overlooking Trial Bay. The Kiosk is licensed so take the time to relax with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the serenity of nature.

Trial Bay Beach

Enjoy the numerous shades of blue and tranquil waters of Trial Bay. Take a dip, snorkel, relax in the sun or take a walk along the beach where you may even come across the remnants of the sunken ferry, the Koondooloo.



Day 2

Visit Smoky Cape Lighthouse

Smoky Cape Lighthouse is situated within Hat Head National Park. The active lighthouse was built in 1891 and is perched high on the narrow headland known as Smoky Cape.

National Parks and Wildlife operate tours of the lighthouse on the 2nd Saturday of each month and on selected dates within the NSW School Holidays.

The lighthouse is spectacular in it design and the views you see up and down the coast are spectacular. During the months of May through to November, the lighthouse is a great vantage spot for whale watching during their migration.

Walking back down from the Lighthouse to the north, you will find the Jack Perkins Walking Track which will lead you down to North Smoky Beach, commonly known as Lighthouse Beach. Once on the beach you will enjoy the pleasure of the isolation and the tranquility, take a leisurely stroll along the beach, and explore the headlands.

Bird Watching

For all Birdwatchers you must go to Boyters Lane Bird Hide. Walking along the boardwalk through the rehabilitated bushland, mangrove, and saltmarsh, you will view a vast range of birds, from raptors and waterbirds to our native feathered friends of the Australian Bush. You may even see a range of migratory bird life throughout the year.

Lunch at The Riverside Tavern

Enjoy a leisurely lunch at The Riverside Tavern and take in the splendid views over the Macleay River. Relax in the Beer Garden and see if you can spot dolphins cruising the river or just watch the boats coming in and out whilst enjoying a nice cold beverage.

Sunset Cruise

Spend the late afternoon on a sunset cruise with South West Rocks Estuary Charters. What better way to relax and take in the sheer beauty of nature than by cruising through the Macleay River Estuaries and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. The perfect way to end the day is by enjoying a remarkable sunset.


 Day 3

Explore Back Creek

Back Creek has recently been upgraded with the installation of cultural art bollard wraps and a functional artistic mosaic and engraved timber bench, this upgrade was in partnership with South West Rocks Figtree Descendants Aboriginal Corporation and the designs were done by a local Dunghutti woman.

Back Creek is an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling, the waters are very calm and crystal clear. You may even want to attempt paddle boarding with SWR SUP and paddle you way along the creek and view the colourful marine life below. Walk across the footbridge to the beautiful mangroves or take a walk along back beach.

Coffee Time

Relax on the deck of the Back Creek Café and Restaurant and take in the views overlooking Back Creek whilst sipping on a hot beverage and even treat yourself to a delicious cake.

Stroll along the Boardwalk

Head into town by walking along the Point Briner Boardwalk and enjoy the gorgeous views over the bay along the way. You will pass the historic Flagstaff Pilot Station before you approach the stunning Horseshoe Bay Beach, which was named the 2022 second best beach in Australia. Continue your journey to the headland at Horseshoe Bay to take in the outstanding views of Main Beach and Trial Bay.

Retail Therapy

Enjoy your last day by buying yourself or a loved one a gift from one of our many stores. South West Rocks has a range of stores selling ladies and men’s fashion, jewellery, opal and gems, homewares, and giftware.

That’s a wrap

To reminisce of your magical 3 days in South West Rocks, treat yourself to a Charcuterie board and a nice bottle of wine, take up your position on your Villas private deck at Salt @ South West Rocks and enjoy your last sunset overlooking the stunning Macleay River.

For more information on South West Rocks or the Macleay Valley, please visit Macleay Valley Coast.

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Great things to do in South West Rocks

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