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Arakoon National Park

Important information

Alerts for Arakoon National Park: closed areas


Updated: 22/12/2014 04:58 PM

"It was a great family camping trip, the weather was perfect and the dolphins swam so close to us."

The idyllic Arakoon National Park on the NSW mid north coast is home to the historic Trial Bay Gaol and is a wonderful place for a daytrip to explore Australian history or for a family camping holiday. There are great picnic and camping spots by the tranquil Trial Bay, and the area is surrounded by rocky foreshores and sandy beaches.

Trial Bay Gaol, dating from the 19th century, was built to house prison labourers who were tasked with building a breakwater. Today the gaol is a picturesque ruin and a fascinating place to explore. There are excellent fishing spots around the park’s rocky headlands and the park’s sheltered beach is a great spot for swimming, snorkelling and paddling.

Don’t be surprised if you see dolphins frolicking in the calm waters and if you’re visiting around July or August, you might see whales on their annual migration.


Why you should visit

Arakoon National Park is a special place, here are just some of the reasons why:

Fascinating heritage
Dating from 1886, Trial Bay Gaol is a unique example of a public works prison. It was also used as an internment camp in World War I and today the ruins continue to intrigue visitors. It’ll take you about an hour to wander through the gaol and the museum. The region has high cultural and spiritual significance to the local Dhungatti people.

Birdwatchers welcome
Arakoon National Park features a landscape of eucalypt forests, heathlands, wetlands and rocky outcrops that are home to a large range of birds. You’ll find black swans and herons in the park’s wetland areas, and in the heathland’s casuarina and banksia you might see honeyeaters, quails and fantails. When you’re out fishing or exploring the park’s coastline, keep your eyes open for ospreys, eagles and falcons soaring high in the sky, or foraging for food along the beach. In spring, look for glossy black cockatoos feeding on she-oak seeds.

Walk through time
There are several interesting walking tracks within the park that take you on a journey through landscapes and time. The Bridle trail, accessible from Little Bay or the park entrance, follows the original trails used during the gaol’s construction and today offers a short but spectacular rainforest and eucalypt walk. The Monument Hill track takes you past a monument to the Germans interned in the prison.

Ideal family getaway
Arakoon National Park is in a magnificent natural setting with a spectacular coastline. There are coastal walks with wonderful views and places to picnic and excellent beachside camping and cottage accommodation. If you’re looking for a place to swim and snorkel, head to sheltered Trial Bay and the kiosk is nearby if you’re looking for a relaxed lunch or dinner. The picnic area at Little Bay is popular with young families, offering barbecues and a large grassed area for games.

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closed areas

Little Bay Beach affected by rock fall
The northern section of Little Bay Beach is closed due to the risk of falling boulders. Contact the park office on (02) 6566 6621 for more information.
Locations affected: Little Bay picnic area, Little Bay Beach

Getting there


From the south

  • Take South West Rocks Road along the Macleay River from East Kempsey (37km)
  • Or take Tourist Route 12 from South Kempsey to travel via Crescent Head (80km)

From the north

  • Turn off the Pacific Highway 1km past Clybucca on to Plummers Lane

Get driving directions


 Opening times

Arakoon National Park is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.


Arakoon National Park is close to:

  • South West Rocks (4km)
  • Kempsey (37km)

 Public transport

For information about public transport options, visit the NSW country transport info website.


Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

Weather and climate

 Visiting through the seasons

There are lots of great things waiting for you in Arakoon National Park. Here are some of the highlights:

Spring (Sept, Oct, Nov)

  • The wildflowers will be out so it’s a great time to hike the park’s walking tracks
  • During the spring, when the she-oaks produce fruit, glossy black cockatoos come in to feed on the ripe seeds

Summer (Dec, Jan, Feb)

  • School’s out and it’s a great time for a family camping holiday – spend your days swimming, snorkelling, fishing and exploring the park’s attractions

Winter (Jun, Jul, Aug)

  • Catch the whales on their journey north along the coast



  • The average temperature ranges between 20°C and  26°C
  • The area's highest recorded temperature in summer is 41.7°C

Winter ­

  • The average temperature ranges between 12°C and 20°C
  • The area’s lowest recorded temperature in winter is 4°C


  • The wettest month on average is March, the driest month on average is September
  • The area's highest recorded rainfall is 343.7mm in one day


South West Rocks (Trial Bay Gaol)

Phone: 02 6566 6168
Street address: Arakoon National Park, Cardwell Street, South West Rocks NSW
Opening hours: 9:00am-4:30pm, daily (closed Christmas Day). NSW Christmas school holidays open from 9:00am-6:00pm daily.

Scenic coastal view from Monument Hill, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Debby McGerty