Tracing our History
Australia - New South Wales
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The Arakoon State Conservation Area preserves the Trial Bay Gaol site on Laggers Point at Seal Rocks and the surrounding area. It is an area covering some 110 plus hectares.
The gaol was built in the 1870s and has been used to hold prisoners working on the local breakwater and as an internment location for Germans during WWI. A memorial to the German internees is located on the top of Monument Hill.
Laggers Point, upon which the gaol is built, is an ideal location for watching whales in the autumn and winter migration. Near Laggers Point is Little Bay, which is a secluded beach area with picnic facilities.
Though preserving a human built site, Arakoon State Conservation Area also protects habitat for Ospreys, Glossy Black Cockatoos, Sugar Gliders and Brush-tailed Phascogales, among others.
Arakoon is reached via the Pacific Highway and is located 40km north of Kempsey, not far from South West Rocks.
There is an entry fee for the gaol and museum. On my last visit it was $5.00 entry for adults.
Note that some of the walks mentioned below are in the Hat Head National Park, which adjoins the Arakoon State Conservation Park.
The Bridle Trail starts at Cardwell Street near the entrance to the park and links with the Powder Magazine Track and the track to Little Bay. This is a short easy walk.
The Monument Hill track heads off from near Trial Bay Gaol and heads up Monument Hill. On the way to the summit is the memorial to the World War I German detainees who died during their detention here. There are spectacular views of Trial Bay and the South West Rocks from the top.
The Powder Magazine Track heads off the main Monument Hill track and leads to the ruins of the old powder magazines which were used in the construction of the gaol. This was an area where blasting powder was stored during the construction of the gaol and breakwater.
The Jack Perkins Track heads off from Captain Cooks Lookout and descends through the forest to North Smoky Beach. Warning: This beach is unpatrolled and considered dangerous.
The Green Island Track starts at the carpark above Gap Beach. The track heads off up the hill and when the junction with Smoky Cape Track is reached continue east onto the headland. Green Island can be seen ahead - only 100m from the coast.
The Smoky Cape Track heads off from the Captain Cooks Lookout along the ridges and gullies behind North Smoky Beach. Upon reaching the Green Island Track you may either head off on the Green Island Track or head toward Gap Beach.
The Gap Beack Track begins at the Overshot Dam at Little Bay and ascends Little Smoky Mountain, before descending to North Gap Beach.
This walk starts at Captain Cooks Lookout, following the Smoky Cape Track and the Green Island Track to the Northern Ridge Top Car Park. From here proceed to either:
Note, this one way walk can take up to 4 hours to complete. Car shuttling is an option for the return (leave a car at the end of the walk before commencing it).
The Trial Bay Gaol was built in the 1870s out of the local granite. It was used to house prisoners who were engaged in local building projects, as well as an internment facility during WWII. At the top of Munument Hill is a memorial to German internees who died during this period of Trial Bay's use.
The Park Office is open seven days a week between 9am and 4.30pm daily, with access to the gaol and museum closing at 4.15pm.
Little Bay is located close to Trial Bay Gaol. There is a pleasant secluded beach here between the cliffs. However, it should be noted that surf conditions are unpredictable and therefore dangerous.
Also located at Little Bay is the 'Duck Pond,' which is the historic Overshot Dam used as a water supply facility during the early gaol days.
A caravan park next to the gaol offers both powered and non-powered sites. There are hot showers, electric BBQs, toilets and fireplaces provided. Fees apply.
In 2003 I visited the Arakoon State Conservation Area. For a look at my journal of the trip and some photos visit the link below:
UPDATED: 10 April 2011
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