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Travel guide South West Rocks

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South West Rocks
  • South West Rocks
  • Quiet beaches
  • Surfing
  • Lighthouse
  • Fishing

If you are looking for the quintessential sleepy, laid-back and almost undiscovered place for a holiday, you will find it hard to go past South West Rocks.  Actually it is easy to go past it – located as it is just off the madness that is the Pacific Highway in holiday time – but take the turn-off and discover something the locals have known for years … this is an absolute gem!

It is almost a shame to blow the cover on South West Rocks and let everyone know what they have been missing, because the feeling of an old-time seaside holiday haven is one of its most endearing features.

Located on the coast just north of Kempsey, South West Rocks is where the Macleay River meets the sea and it has it all:  subtropical climate, a beautiful cove with pristine waters, eight beaches, an historic gaol and lighthouse, beautiful rainforests, wineries, access to the glorious hinterland and world-class diving.

In fact divers do travel from all over the world to experience the unique diving that is to be found in the waters off Smoky Cape.   The waters are also home to Fish Rock, an islet where a number of grey nurse sharks gather.  This gentle and inoffensive shark was wrongly believed to be a vicious man-eater and was hunted almost to extinction, however a viable population is still to be found in the waters around Fish Rock.

Two dive companies in the area run tours where you can swim with these “labradors of the deep” in Fish Rock Cave and the surrounding waters.  The cave features a 125m tunnel through the centre, where divers can actually take a breath, thanks to an air pocket.  This is truly an unforgettable experience, so contact South West Rocks Dive Centre or Fishrock Dive Centre for more information.

For those who don’t scuba dive, the waters are teeming with marine life and there are many sheltered spots where snorkellers can float in the aquamarine waters and watch the underwater world go by.  There are some fabulous vantage points, such as the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, from which to spot dolphins and the area is ideal for whale-watching in season.

The area is also perfect for kayaking and sea kayaking, offers great surfing, body boarding and sailboarding and of course, is heaven for those who love to fish.  Fishing boats, wave skis, catamarans, bikes and more can be hired and there are charter-fishing boats that operate from the entrance of the Macleay River.  An eco river cruise also leaves from here.

Visit historic Trial Bay Gaol in the Arakoon State Recreation area for a taste of our past.  The gaol has a convict background, but was also used as an internment camp for men of German and Austrian descent during World War 1. History buffs will also want to spend time at historic Boatman’s Cottage.

Those of us whose idea of a holiday involves retail therapy and great food will not be disappointed as the township boasts a number of excellent restaurants and cafes, boutiques with great surf and beachwear and also a handful of those brilliant little shops full of interesting antiques, trinkets and craft items that will always be a reminder of this holiday gem.

Not everyone wants to get their feet wet and not everyone wants to shop – well, don’t despair as South West Rocks has plenty of land-based attractions as well.  There is a wonderful 18 hole golf course, bowling greens, tennis and squash courts, sensational bush walks through Arakoon State Recreation area and a swimming pool for those who prefer not to share their swim with the marine life.

South West Rocks offers a wide range of accommodation, including the highly rated Trial Bay Eco Tourist Park, motels, guest houses, luxury units and self-contained cottages.

How to get there

South West Rocks lies on north-facing Trial Bay and is around 460 km north of Sydney on the Pacific Highway and around 500 km south of Brisbane.  It is serviced by buses and trains to nearby towns.

About the Author
Lisa Monk is a marketing communications writer with a diverse background that includes experience in travel, hotels, finance, public relations and advertising. She has worked with Club Med, the Holiday Inn group and on a number of other travel projects on a freelance basis.  Lisa has travelled throughout Asia Pacific, North America, Canada and England.

Lisa now works with TakeABreak.com.au as editor of the Holiday Inspirations newsletter and other publications.  She lives in Sydney with her husband Andy, and sons Joseph and Nicholas.

About the author
Find out more about Lisa at http://bit.ly/h_experts

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