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Trial Bay Gaol

"It’s right next to the beach, a funny place for a jail. Imagine lying in a dark cell listening to the sounds of the ocean."

Step back in time on a guided tour of Trial Bay Gaol, soaking up the history and the amazing coastal views that surround it.

The gaol opened in 1886, after 13 years of construction. It must have been a strange feeling building a prison in such a beautiful setting. The prison labourers were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. Unfortunately the scheme failed, however you’ll still be able to see the remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. During World War I the gaol became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers.

Today, this picturesque historic ruin stands as a testament to those who lived and died here, with a museum and memorial for visitors to get a better idea of life in those days. Feeling energetic? Try the nearby Powder Magazine walking track or Monument Hill walking track.


Getting there

Getting there:

Trial Bay Gaol is in the Trial Bay Gaol precinct of Arakoon National Park.

From South West Rocks:

  • Follow Phillip Drive
  • Turn left onto Cardwell Street
  • Continue along Cardwell Street until you reach Trial Bay Goal

Get driving directions


Vehicle access:

Sealed road - 2WD vehicles - All weather


Parking is available at Trial Bay Gaol, including designated bus parking.

Important info


  • Amenities block
  • Gas/electric barbecues (coin-operated)
  • Wood barbecues (bring your own firewood)
  • Boat ramp
  • Carpark
  • Drinking water
  • Other facilities/equipment
  • Lookout
  • Picnic tables
  • Hot showers
  • Flush toilets
  • Venue

You should know:

  • Peak rates apply from 1 December to 31 January and NSW school holidays (excluding winter school holidays).
  • Shoulder period from 1 February to start of the Easter holiday break.
  • Between August and September, Trial Bay hosts the annual Sculpture in the Gaol, a public sculpture competition. For more information contact the park office.
  • For further information regarding the German internees, please visit the Migration Heritage Centre website.

Wheelchair access:


Opening hours:

Trial Bay Gaol is:

  • Open each day from 9am–4.30pm (closed on Christmas Day). Self-guided tours are available all day and an entry fee applies. Allow about one hour to explore the gaol.


Fees: Trial Bay Gaol entry: Adult $10 Concession $7 Family (two adults and two children) $27


South West Rocks (Trial Bay Gaol), Phone: 02 6566 6168

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Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary/NSW Government