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 Trial 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.

South West Rocks surf coastline - Kempsey Area

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.

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 Gaol campground and Smoky Cape campground near South West Rocks.

Things to do and places to stay

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  1. Arakoon bushcare group

    Wednesday 21 March 2018 to Wednesday 11 July 2018 , South West Rocks

    The fragile coastal dune system of Arakoon National Park, near South West Rocks and Kempsey, is under threat from invasive weeds such as bitou bush. Volunteer for two hours of weeding each week to help eradicate invasive weeds and restore n…

    21 Mar - 11 Jul
  2. Kempsey Riverside Market

    Saturday 07 April 2018 to Saturday 05 May 2018 , Kempsey

    The Kempsey Riverside Market is held on the first Saturday of every month, from 8am to 1pm on the banks of the beautiful Macleay River. This quality market features produce and products from Kempsey and surrounding districts, with an empha…

    07 Apr - 05 May
  3. Crescent Head Malibu Classic

    Event dates to be confirmed: May 2018 , Crescent Head

    Crescent Head Malibu Club presents the Crescent Head Malibu Classic at Killick Beach, Crescent Head. In the 1960s, longboarders surfing north along the coast found the home of one of the longest and most classic point breaks in the world…

    27 May
  4. South West Rocks Running Festival

    Sunday 10 June 2018 , Kempsey

    The South West Rocks Running Festival, formally the Macleay River Marathon, in its 35th year, is a scenic riverside run along the banks of the beautiful Macleay River and back to Trial Bay Gaol. It is held every year on the June long weeken…

    10 Jun
  5. Sculpture in the Gaol

    Event dates to be confirmed: August 2018 , South West Rocks

    For the duration of the event the historic grounds of Trial Bay Gaol will be transformed into a dramatic landscape filled with sculptures for this stunning exhibition. Why not also take the opportunity to read about the Gaol’s famous hist…

    05 Aug
  6. Slim Dusty Festival

    Monday 15 October 2018 to Sunday 21 October 2018 , Kempsey

    Fun and Friendly Country Music Festival for all ages in October with camping on site - choose powered and unpowered sites. Their great bus tour this year will be to Slim Dusty's childhood homestead and The Pub with No Beer with morning tea …

    15 Oct - 21 Oct