Special Offer

Dark and deadly deeds: Trial Bay Gaol sunset tour

Arakoon National Park

Overview

Wander through the old Trial Bay Gaol at sunset. Hear about the prisoners' crimes and deeds here during World War I.

When

Thursday 3 October and Thursday 10 October 2019, 5pm to 7pm.

Where
Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park
Accessibility
Medium
Grade
Easy. Suitable for older teenagers and adults. All children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Price

Adult $20 per person. Child $10 per person. Family $50 for 2 adults and 2 children.

Meeting point
Main gates of Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park.
Bookings
Bookings required. Email Trial Bay Gaol or call 02 6566 6168.
Availability
Also available on request, subject to availability.

Join this captivating tour of Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park. You'll discover the crimes committed by the public works prisoners here in the late 1800s, and how they laboured in vain to build the breakwater. Learn about the German internees during World War I, how they passed their time living in overcrowded cells and the death from a shark attack. Find out why they eventually set the gaol on fire.

Remember to wear closed shoes and a warm jacket. If you're camping nearby, it's a good idea to bring a small hand torch so you can return safely to your campsite after sunset.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/guided-tours/dark-and-deadly-deeds-trial-bay-gaol-sunset-tour/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Dark and deadly deeds: Trial Bay Gaol sunset tour.

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 Gaol

    Park entry points

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather

    Parking

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

    Maps and downloads

    Accessibility

    Disability access level - medium

    Most of the tour is wheelchair-accessible with assistance.

    Learn more

    Dark and deadly deeds: Trial Bay Gaol sunset tour is in Arakoon National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Abundant bird life

    Little Bay, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Birds are abundant in Arakoon National Park. In wetland areas, you might see black swans, egrets, herons and spoonbills. On the heath, there are fantails, wrens, honeyeaters and quails. Hawks, falcons, ospreys and eagles soar above the cliffs and forage along the beaches. During the spring, when the she-oaks produce fruit, glossy black cockatoos come in to feed on the ripe seeds. Despite its small size, Arakoon harbours several threatened species, including the osprey and glossy black cockatoo. You're also likely to spot wallabies and echidnas, and the nocturnal brush-tailed phascogales and sugar gliders. During September and October, you can often see humpback whales just offshore, on their return journey to Antarctica.

    Fascinating heritage

     Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    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.

    • Bridle trail Bridle Trail walking track is an easy short walk offering a glimpse of the historic heritage of Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park near Kempsey.
    • Dark and deadly deeds: Trial Bay Gaol sunset tour Wander through the old Trial Bay Gaol at sunset. Hear about the prisoners' crimes and deeds here during World War I.
    • Friends of Trial Bay Gaol The historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol, in Arakoon National Park on the NSW Mid North Coast, are a significant heritage area. Friends of Trial Bay Gaol invite you to volunteer to help in the protection and promotion of this amazing piece of local history, especially during the annual Sculpture in the Gaol.
    • Heritage detectives Help unlock mysteries of the past while exploring historic Trial Bay Gaol from top to bottom. Who were the prisoners were and where did they came from? What crimes did they commit to deserve their punishment and what work they carry out in captivity? This Stage 3 (Years 5-6) school excursion to Arakoon National Park focuses on HSIE. 
    • History mysteries 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 HSIE.
    • Monument Hill walking track Featuring stunning coastal views, the easy Monument Hill walk takes in the historic monument built for German gaol internees before finishing at Little Bay picnic area.
    • Powder Magazine walking track Powder Magazine walking track is a short walk near Trial Bay, in Arakoon National Park, offering scenic views and historic heritage.
    • Trial Bay Gaol For a glimpse into Australian history, head to South West Rocks to explore the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol. Make sure you see the view from the sentry’s lookout.
    • Trial Bay Gaol: Life behind bars kids tour Come along and find out what life behind bars was really like for the prisoners here. Trial Bay Gaol, in Arakoon National Park, is brimming with stories.
    Show more

    Ideal family getaway

    Trial Bay Gaol Discovery tour, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary/Seen Australia

    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.

    • Front Beach Front Beach offers family friendly options including swimming, paddling, liloing and picnicking in Arakoon National Park on the mid North Coast of NSW.
    • Little Bay picnic area Little Bay, a popular beach picnic spot near South West Rocks on the north coast, features barbecues, shaded tables, children’s play equipment and a kangaroo or two.

    Scenic headlands

    Monument Hill walking track, Arakoon National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    The Smoky Cape Adamellite which forms Little Smoky and the Arakoon peninsula is significant as the only coastal outcropping of granite between Bundaberg in Queensland and Moruya Heads in southern NSW. It was used to construct the prison. The naturally vegetated hillslopes of Arakoon form a scenic backdrop to Trial Bay and the popular holiday town of South West Rocks.

    • Bridle trail Bridle Trail walking track is an easy short walk offering a glimpse of the historic heritage of Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park near Kempsey.
    • Heritage detectives Help unlock mysteries of the past while exploring historic Trial Bay Gaol from top to bottom. Who were the prisoners were and where did they came from? What crimes did they commit to deserve their punishment and what work they carry out in captivity? This Stage 3 (Years 5-6) school excursion to Arakoon National Park focuses on HSIE. 
    • Monument Hill walking track Featuring stunning coastal views, the easy Monument Hill walk takes in the historic monument built for German gaol internees before finishing at Little Bay picnic area.

    Traditional lands of Dhungatti People

    Monument Hill walking track, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Barbara Webster

    The region surrounding Arakoon National Park has high cultural and spiritual significance to the local Dhungatti People. There are numerous Aboriginal sites within the park of great spiritual and cultural significance, with dreaming stories and cultural learning part of them, still passed on today. These include middens, stone arrangements and spiritual sites. We work with local Aboriginal communities to protect this rich culture.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

      White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

      White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.

    • Humpback whale breaching. Photo: Dan Burns

      Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

      The humpback whale has the longest migratory path of any mammal, travelling over 5000km from its summer feeding grounds in Antarctica to its breeding grounds in the subtropics. Its playful antics, such as body-rolling, breaching and pectoral slapping, are a spectacular sight for whale watchers in NSW national parks.

    • Swamp wallaby in Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

      Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

      The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

    • Short-beaked echidna in Ben Boyd National Park. Photo: Sharon Wormleaton/OEH

      Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

      One of only 2 egg-laying mammals in the world, the short-beaked echidna is one of the most widespread of Australian native animals. Covered in spines, or quills, they’re equipped with a keen sense of smell and a tube-like snout which they use to break apart termite mounds in search of ants.

    • Grey headed flying fox hanging from a tree branch. Photo: Shane Ruming/OEH

      Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

      The grey-headed flying fox is one of several threatened Australian animals and the largest Australian native bat, with a wingspan that extends up to 1m. Known to inhabit woodlands, rainforests and urban regions, these fascinating nocturnal mammals congregate in large roost sites along the east coast of NSW.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (2)

    Looking thought the stone arches, Trial Bay Gaol. Photo: Debby McGerty