South West Rocks is a resort village at the picturesque mouth of the Macleay River. The town is rapidly gaining a reputation as a bolt-hole for jaded city-dwellers. Just 35km north-east of Kempsey, and approximately halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, it boasts a chain of safe beaches, river cruises and good surf and river fishing.
You can swim in the surf or in the sheltered waters of Trail Bay, which makes an ideal spot for families with young children. All sorts of water sports are popular, with sailboarding, catamaran sailing, canoeing and surfing heading the list.
Fishing enthusiasts are spoilt for choice in South West Rocks. You can enjoy beach fishing, rock fishing, river fishing or even charter a boat and head out for some deep sea fishing.
Nearby, Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon State Conservation Area presents a fascinating glimpse of the past. Built by convict labour in the late 19th century, the gaol was used as an internment centre for German nationals during World War I. It is surrounded by rocky foreshores and sandy beaches. There are guided tours or visitors can wander round at their own pace, absorbing the rich history and enjoying the spectacular views. Take a picnic and relax at one of the picnic areas or take the stunning half-day walk to Smoky Cape Lighthouse.
Spectacular Smoky Cape Lighthouse lies in Hat Head National Park, just south of South West Rocks. A short walk from the car park up to the lighthouse rewards visitors with commanding views to the north and south - a fantastic vantage point for whale watching or for just taking in the scenery. The lighthouse is the tallest and one of the oldest in New South Wales and is still in use as a navigational aid.
Hat Head National Park has one of the largest sand dune systems in New South Wales. It includes a diverse range of habitats, including pockets of rainforest, open coastal heath and wetlands. In spring, there are beautiful wildflower displays. There are several bushwalks taking some of the park's best features.
Things to do:
Swimming and water sports
Fishing - beach, rock, river or deep sea
Trial Bay Gaol - in Arakoon State Conservation Area
Smoky Cape Lighthouse - for spectacular views
Hat Head National Park - bushwalks, wildflowers, views