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Trial Bay Gaol

Home > Sydney > Camping | Outdoor | Weekend Escapes | National Parks | Museums
by Vanessa M (subscribe)
I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published April 12th 2012
Trial Bay Gaol is a gaol you'll want to find yourself inside. It is a beautiful, history-filled, heritage listed attraction located in Arakoon National Park near South West Rocks on the NSW north coast.

Trial Bay Gaol has had an interesting and varied past. It was established in 1876 as an experimental Public Works Gaol. Prisoners were expected to build a breakwall that would protect Trial Bay from easterly and north-easterly winds and make it a safe harbour between Sydney and Melbourne. The gaol was completed in 1886, but lasted only 17 years before high costs and problems with the breakwall led to work being abandoned and the gaol closing.

Inside the gaol today


Looking around the gaol grounds


The gaol was reopened in WWI as a German internment camp. It closed again in 1918 when internees were moved elsewhere to prepare for their expected deportation after the war. The possibility that internees could communicate with passing German ships had also been a concern. On a nearby hill overlooking Laggers Point you can find a monument dedicated to those who died in the gaol during this period. The original monument was built in 1918 by the German internees but was destroyed after the war due to anti-German sentiments. It was rebuilt in 1959. A more detailed history of the gaol can be found here.

A cell recreation


Another cell recreation


Relics from the Trail Bay Gaol's history can be viewed in the onsite museum, which also includes an extensive photographic record of the gaol's period as an internment camp.

Items on display inside the museum


Recently Trial Bay Gaol also has also become host to an annual Sculpture in the Gaol competition, which will be held this year between 18th August and 9th September. But even if you don't manage to make it during this time, the gaol is a place of beauty, with the ruins set against picturesque views of Trial Bay. Camping areas, bushwalks and picnic facilities are also located nearby to make sure you enjoy your time here.

The view of Trial Bay
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Why? An insight into Australia’s history, set against some amazing views.
When: Open 9.00 - 4.30 daily (closed Christmas Day).
Where: Cardwell Street, South West Rocks, NSW 2431
Cost: Adults $10.00, Concession $7.00, Family (2 adults 2 children) $27.00 (covers both gaol and museum entry)
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