South West Rocks lies on the edge of Arakoon National Park where the Macleay River flows into the Pacific Ocean. Warm waters flow down from the tropics to make for ideal year-round swimming conditions complemented by an array of picturesque sandy beaches and rocky foreshores to explore.
Things to do in South West Rocks
Step back in time on a tour of the Trial Bay Gaol, which first opened in 1886 when prison labourers were assigned here to build a breakwater. Photograph the picturesque ruins and visit the small museum and memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives.
Spend a day in Arakoon National Park to kayak around the coast or fish off its rocky beaches and take a break at one of the scenic picnic spots. Keep an eye out for dolphins playing in the calm waters and if you visit in July or August, you might even see whales on their annual migration.
Visit the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, which stands on a narrow headland surrounded by Hat Head National Park. Take a guided tour up its winding staircase to see the 19th-century octagonal tower and enjoy the views of the coast from nearby Captain Cook’s lookout.
Want to stretch your legs? South West Rocks has numerous walking trails to explore. Stroll through rare coastal ecosystems along the Rainforest Walking Track in Hat Head National Park or discover the region’s heritage along the Bridle Trail in Arakoon National Park.
Getting around South West Rocks
South West Rocks is around five hours’ drive north from Sydney or around 90 minutes from Coffs Harbour Airport. The town is easy to explore on foot, but having your own vehicle is best for visiting the national parks.