Trial Bay Gaol
Arakoon National Park
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.
- Historic buildings/places
- 73 Trial Bay Gaol Road, Arakoon, NSW, 2431 - in Arakoon National Park in North Coast
Adult $11. Concession $8. Family $30 (2 adults and 2 children).
- Opening times
9am to 4.30pm daily. Closed on Christmas Day. Self-guided tours are available all day and an entry fee applies. Allow about 1 hour to explore the gaol.
- Hire this venue
Trial Bay Gaol is available for events and function hire.
- Please note
- Peak rates apply from 1 December to 31 January and NSW school holidays (excluding winter school holidays).
- Shoulder period is from 1 February to the 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 more information about the German internees, please visit the Migration Heritage Centre website.
- Mermaid Pools, near Trial Bay Gaol, is not recommended for swimming. Large waves wash over the area and visitors can be swept off the rocks.
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.
Tours and events at this location
Explore Trial Bay Gaol by twilight with an NPWS guide by your side. Discover what life was like for prisoners and hear their stories as you watch the sun set in beautiful Arakoon National Park.
Come along and find out what life behind bars was really like for the prisoners at Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park. Explore the gaol and discover its secrets on this action-packed family tour.
Wander through the old Trial Bay Gaol at sunset, in Arakoon National Park, near South West Rocks. Visit the darker side of history and hear stories of prisoners' crimes and experiences here.
Subscribe to our Naturescapes e-newsletter which is packed with the latest information, experiences and events in NSW national parks. Your next park adventure starts here.
The free NSW National Parks app lets you download maps and explore parks, things to do and places to stay—all without mobile reception.
- National Parks Contact Centre
- 7am to 7pm daily
- 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS) for the cost of a local call within Australia excluding mobiles
- Trial Bay Gaol Visitor Centre
- 9am to 4.30pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.
- 02 6566 6168
- 73 Trial Bay Gaol Road, Arakoon NSW 2431
- in Arakoon National Park in the North Coast region
Arakoon National Park is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.