South West Rocks


Cave diving and splendid beaches

One of the world’s best cave dives is Fish Rock Cave, off the coast of South West Rocks, a delightful seaside holiday town at the mouth of the beautiful Macleay River. Enjoy gorgeous beaches, spectacular national parks and one of Australia’s tallest lighthouses, too.

  • Little Bay Beach - Arakoon National Park - Photo National Parks, Michael van Ewijk
  • Hat Head National Park - Photo National Parks and Stuart Poignard

About South West Rocks

A charming seaside town at the mouth of the beautiful Macleay River, South West Rocks is a perfect escape for a family beach holiday and thrilling diving adventures. You’ll enjoy bushwalking and uncrowded beaches in Arakoon National Park and Hat Head National Park.

On the mid North Coast of NSW, South West Rocks has a rich heritage. The historic ruins of Trail Bay Gaol are on the cliffs above the sea. Taking 13 years to build, it opened in 1886 and was an internment camp in the First World War for people of German descent living in Australia. Near the gaol is Little Bay Beach, a great spot for fishing.

Smoky Cape Lighthouse - Hat Head National Park

For spectacular views visit the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, one of the oldest and tallest lighthouses in Australia. Smoky Cape is a great vantage point for whale watching between May and November. The Smoky Cape walking track begins at Captain Cook’s lookout and meanders through one of Australia’s largest remnant littoral rainforest, home to wallabies and swallow-tailed butterflies.

Two kilometres off shore is Fish Rock Cave, one of the best cave dives in the world that runs 125 metres through a small island. You’ll see an amazing variety of marine life, including endangered grey nurse sharks. Fish Rock Dive Centre and South West Rocks Dive Centre offer diving tours.

Trial Bay Gaol - Arakoon National Park, Image Rob Cleary and National Parks

You’ll find plenty of accommodation options in South West Rocks, which is 30 minutes’ drive from Kempsey and 50 minutes from Crescent Head. Camping is popular in the Kempsey region, including both Trial Bay Goal campgound and Smoky Cape campground near South West Rocks.

  1. Arakoon National Park

    Arakoon National Park, home to historic Trial Bay Gaol, offers beachside camping, rocky foreshores with great fishing and beaches perfect for whale watching and swimming.The idyllic Arakoon National Park on...

  2. Bridle trail

    Retrace history along an easy walking track, Bridle trail, near Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park, five kilometres east of South West Rocks.  In days gone by, horses would haul the massive steam crane used in...

  3. Captain Cook's lookout

    For a scenic treat, make your way to Captain Cook’s lookout at the base of Smoky Cape lighthouse. Pause to feel the salty breeze as you gaze out over the Tasman Sea and Hat Head National Park.Visit between...

  4. Fish Rock Dive Centre

    Fish Rock Cave is their best known and most popular dive site but the cave is just the beginning of the great diving around South West Rocks. The surrounds of Fish Rock offer some spectacular dives and opportunities...

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