School excursion

History mysteries

Stage 2 (Years 3-4), History, Arakoon National Park

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Explore the old granite gaol at Trial Bay and help to unlock mysteries of the past on the History Mysteries school excursion. This is a Stage 2 (Years 3-4) excursion to Arakoon National Park, focusing on History.

Read more about History mysteries

Trial Bay Gaol is situated on a headland in Arakoon National Park. Discover how the Gaol has been used over time and experience what life was like for the German prisoners who were interned here during World War. 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. You’ll find out about the lives of prisoners who once called Trial Bay Gaol home and what landed them there in the first place.

For program outline, safety and practical information about this excursion, see info for teachers

Stage Stage 2 (Years 3-4)
Learning area History
Student outcomes

HT2-2. Describes and explains how significant individuals, groups and events contributed to changes in the local community over time

HT2-4. Describes and explains effects of British colonisation in Australia

HT2-5. Applies skills of historical inquiry and communication

GE2-3. Examines differing perceptions about the management of places and environments


Students will:

  • Visit this site to investigate transport, especially the "Highway of Light", daily life and the treatment of prisoners since colonial times
  • Discover the role that people of diverse backgrounds have played in the development and character of this site including prisoners and WW1 internees
  • Use skills of historical inquiry and communication to uncover the history of the gaol
  • Use a range of sources such as photographs, newspapers, oral histories, diaries and letters
  • Explore the site to understand how it has changed.

Excursion details

Guided. Available on request. Weekdays during school term.
Easy. Walking on tracks and paths around the gaol site.

$260 per group, which includes Gaol admission and your own ranger guide. Price includes GST. Max 30 students per group. For groups over 30 conditions apply. 

Meeting point
The main gates of Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park.
If you would like to organise a NPWS school excursion please get in touch with local staff or use the 'Enquire' link for the online form.
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Info for teachers

All the practical information you need to know about History mysteries.

Program outline

  • Arrive and take a recess break
  • Welcome
  • Introduction to the site, the Gaol precinct and local wildlife.

Group activities:

  • Teacher led bushwalk to Monument Hill
  • Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after the activities
  • Guided activities to explore the Gaol, follow the clues and unravel the mysteries.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    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

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather


    Designated car and bus parking is available at Trial Bay Gaol.

    What to bring

    Please wear fully enclosed shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, wet weather gear, and lunch which should be low waste with a refillable water bottle. Students should bring gear in a backpack or similar (not plastic bags). Please note: You're welcome to stay for a picnic lunch and spend some time in this beautiful location.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Pre activity briefing: participants will be briefed at the start of the activity/day.

    Safety equipment: NPWS staff carry radios and first aid kits, hold current first aid certificates and are aware of emergency procedures.

    Staff accreditation: NPWS staff have current Senior First Aid accreditation. They are experienced in working with groups of students in the natural environment and have excellent knowledge of the specific areas they are visiting including potential hazards. NPWS is committed to a Child Safe and Friendly Environment. Our staff have been screened for child-related employment and have completed a Working with Children Check.

    Emergencies: NPWS staff are trained to deal with emergencies and emergency procedures are in place. Ongoing supervision of a student following first aid treatment will be the responsibility of the visiting school.

    Risk assessment

    Our rangers and guides have the technical skill and experience to assess the risks and the benefits of a variety of activities delivered as part of our learning programs.

    We believe in including opportunities that allow students to learn and experience for themselves through exploration in the natural environment.

    Please make your own risk assessment based on the information provided. Detailed potential risks and controls are provided for the site to assist teachers in risk management planning. Teachers and carers should be aware of, and consider the needs, abilities and medical conditions of students when visiting this site. The supervision of students remains the responsibility of the teacher. The school must ensure an adequate number of adult supervisors are present.


    Disability access level - hard

    Not suitable for most wheelchairs. If you have someone with special needs, please let us know in advance so that we can plan accordingly.