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Trial Bay Gaol

Arakoon National Park

Affected by closures, check current alerts 


For a glimpse into Australian history, head to South West Rocks to explore the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park. 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.
  • 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 in Arakoon National Park.

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

  • Sunset above the Trial Bay Gaol walls, Arakoon National Park. Photo: Carolyn McPhee © DPIE

    Trial Bay Gaol twilight tour

    Explore Trial Bay Gaol by twilight with an NPWS guide by your side. Discover what life was like for prisoners as you watch the sun set in beautiful Arakoon National Park, South West Rocks.

  • View through bars at Trial Bay Goal. Photo: Kim Payne Photography © DPE

    Trial Bay Gaol: Life behind bars kids tour

    Come along and find out what life behind bars was really like for the prisoners at Trial Bay Gaol, in Arakoon National Park near South West Rocks. Explore the gaol on this action-packed family tour.

  • Trial Bay Gaol with starscape. Photo: Kim Payne Photography © DPE

    Walk on the dark side: Sunset tour for adults

    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.


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


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