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Trial Bay Bushwalk

A magnificent short bushwalk, a real gem from South West Rocks NSW

It has history, ocean views, attractive pathways, amazing variety of coastal native plants, kangaroos and frog pond.

Start at the Gaol.

As you get out of your vehicle enjoy the ocean view and with luck you might see some whales.


To view a brief history of the Gaol

please click  History

  or read it at the end.



As you walk south along bush protected areas of the Monument track you'll come to other contrasting sections featuring very stunted and wind blown vegetation.



Light density bush Stunted wind-blown area

Enjoying the coastal view   

 of Little Bay








This stunted section was covered in

 Flannel flowers   Actinotus helianthi


Note the small (Stressed)

Slender Rice Flowers     Pimelea linifolia


Dianella caerulea

Dianella caerulea

Dogwood (Stressed)  Jacksonia scoparia


Black-eyed-Susan   Tetratheca thymifolia

Black-eyed-Susan   Tetratheca thymifolia

Many plants were sign posted including this Alyxia ruscifolia which I've had growing in a pot at home for a few years.

Native Holly  Alyxia ruscifolia

Paper Daisy Bracteantha bracteata

Silky Purple Flag   Patersonia sericea

Drumstick Isopogon anenonifolius

Trigger Plants  Stylidium gramminafolium

Geebung  Persoonia levis


At the end of the Monument Walk you arrive at a picnic area where you can see kangaroos grazing.

After relaxing take the 'Bridle' Walk (sign posted) and along this section a new sign will point you to Powder Magazine Track which will lead you to the Powder Magazines, of course, and finally you'll rejoin the Monument track and back to your vehicle.

Whole circut is just under 3km.

Allow plenty of time as there is much to see identify and photograph.


In this section below which is a little bit more sheltered from the salt winds you'll see that plants appear less stressed.

Woollsia pungens

Dogwood      Jacksonia scoparia

Hop Bush Dodonaea triquetra

 Frogs chorused they liked this pond

Cordyline stricta

Banksia integrifolia

Needle Bush Hakea teretifolia

False Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea

Fringed Lily  Thysonatus tuberosis

Fringed Lily  Thysonatus tuberosis

A very pretty walk Reading the signs

Ah! The First Powder Magazine ->

Initially the Powder Magazines were kept within the Gaol but a horrified visitor suggested they should be built away from the Gaol which was just as well.

Look what happened to the second one

Grass Trees  Xanthorrhoea australis


Finally another Arakoon National Park bench to rest on and admire some flannel flowers


 History of Trial Bay Gaol



Trial Bay had been recognised as a safe shipping refuge from southerlies ever since its naming after the wreck of the Brig 'Trial' in 1817.  The loss of lives and ships required that a breakwater should be built at Trial Bay.

The Trial Bay Gaol was established in 1876 as an experimental Public Works Gaol where the inmates would construct the breakwater.

The NSW Government gave its support for the Public Works Gaol experiment but only three years later the work was abandoned and the gaol was closed.  Only 300 metres of the planned 1500 metre break wall were completed.

With the onset of World War I  the old gaol was given a new lease of life as a German internment Camp (1915 - 1918)

Within one week of the declaration of war, all German subjects in Australia were declared 'enemy aliens' and required to report to the Government.  This also came to include naturalised migrants as well as Australian born persons whose father or grandfather had been born in Germany or Austria.

Only some were interned at Trial Bay Gaol and at first their rations were the same as those for Australian soldiers but later this was reduced to 'Imperial Rations' based on rations given to POW's in Britain.  However the internees could supplement their diets from garden grown vegetables and sea food caught at the beach.  Because of this the camp even boasted a gourmet restaurant, "The Duck Coop" and some fine food was available to those who could afford it.

The atmosphere in the gaol was somewhat mixed.  On the one hand there was food aplenty, they organised sport and culture. private clubs organised sporting activities; the Turnverein athletic club.  There was boxing, bowling, and chess as well as two choral societies performing German folksongs.   The theatre performed 56 plays in 1917; the theatre barn could hold 280 people.  The orchestra was also important with one significant performance being Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in C Minor. Nevertheless there was also a darker side caused by confinement.

W. Daehne wrote in his diary on Sunday 21 April 1918

"Causes for friction are popping up everywhere and you have to pull yourself together all the time to avoid confrontations.  Things get easily out of dimension and people become irritable and touchy due to long imprisonment.  You just can't avoid it.  Some days the mood is following the course of the war, one day there's high tension and then again one is doomed to wait and wait."


 The Monument

Before departure the internees built a monument on the hill above Laggers Point in memory of five comrades who died while detained.

The cairn was destroyed in July 1919, probably by anti-German vandals.  In 1959 the monument was rebuilt as a gesture of post-World War II goodwill.  Funds were provided by the West German Government and assistance from the Macleay Shire Council and the Rotary Club of Kempsey.


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