South West Rocks, the largest seaside town in the Macleay Valley, beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery...
39kms north east of Kempsey at the mouth of the Macleay River, the "Rocks" as it is affectionately known, is a mecca for fishermen, divers and surfers. One of the reasons for the popularity of South West Rocks is the variety of beaches and the fact that they face different directions - Trial Bay Beach faces west, one of the few beaches on the east coast to do so! Beaches include Horseshoe Bay, Back Beach, Main Beach, Trial Bay, Little Bay, Gap Beach, North Smoky and Smoky Beach.
Trial Bay itself stretches from Laggers Point to Grassy Head.
The South West Rocks area has a fascinating history and many old buildings can still be seen. Smoky Cape was named by Captain Cook on May 13, 1770. Trial Bay Gaol, a public works prison, was first occupied in 1886 and Smoky Cape Lighthouse was opened in 1891. A brochure available from the Visitor Information Centre, "Browse Around South West Rocks", guides visitors on a heritage walk around the village.
Many people are confused by the name "South West Rocks"; the name originated when the pilot officer used to advise Masters of vessels to anchor in Trial Bay so that the rocks would be south west of them and this would ensure their ship would be in deep water.
things to see
Trial Bay Gaol, Smoky Cape Lighthouse, the Boatman's Cottage which includes the Visitor Information Centre, a small maritime museum and an arts & crafts display; Markets, Aquarium, Oyster barn, Hat Head National Park; rock, beach, creek, river, estuary and deep sea fishing; surfing, diving,Fish Rock Dive Cave, the wrecks of the "Sydney Queen", the "Lurgurena" and the "Koondooloo", Captain Cook Lookout, the Macleay River, Macleay River Fishermans Co-operative, heritage and bushwalks.