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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
Arakoon National Park

Adult $11. Concession $8. Family $30 (two adults and two children).

Opening times

  • 9am - 4.30pm daily
  • Closed on Christmas Day
  • Self-guided tours are available all day and an entry fee applies. Allow about one 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.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Tours and events at this location

  • Tour group at Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Jessica Robertson

    Trial Bay Gaol twilight tour

    As the sun sets, explore the old Trial Bay Gaol in beautiful Arakoon National Park, with an NPWS guide by your side.

  • A cell with model prisoners located at Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Jessica Robertson/OEH

    Walk on the dark side tour

    Take a walk on the dark side and hear about the stories of prisoners who were sentenced here at Trial Bay Gaol.

  • Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

    WilderQuest History mysteries

    Are you interested in solving mysteries? Come along and hear about some mysteries of the past at this historic gaol in Arakoon National Park.


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A family walk a boardwalk section of Bouddi coastal walk, Bouddi National Park. Photo: John Spencer/OEH.

Conservation program:

Saving our Species conservation program

Saving our Species is an innovative conservation program in NSW. This program aims to secure as many threatened species that can be secured in the wild as possible, for the next 100 years.

Mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus). Photo: Cate Aitken
Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary/NSW Government