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Arakoon National Park

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Between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, with its 18th century gaol at Trial Bay, the Arakoon National Park is one of the most popular in NSW with over a million visitors each year.

3262 Little Bay, South West Rocks by Rmonty119, on Flickr

The beautiful Little Bay

The beautiful beach and rocky foreshore at Little Bay.

Little Bay is a more secluded beach located on the eastern side of the headland where the goal sits and joined by walking tracks to the long stretches of Front Beach, also called Trial Bay Gaol Beach. Both are good swimming beaches.

A camping site with a full amenities block, picnic tables, boat ramp, cafe/kiosk, car park, drinking water, showers, toilets and electric power is available at Trial Bay Gaol and a picnic spot at Little Bay.

Overlook of Hat Head National Park

The view south from the Arakoon Lighthouse to the  Hat Head National Park.

Trial Bay Gaol

The historic Trial Bay Gaol is a central feature of the park. The goal was built in 1876 as an experiment in taking prisoners into areas where large public works were required. The public works in this case were the building of a breakwater at Trial Bay to provide a safe haven for coastal shipping that was being ravaged by ocean conditions with the loss of 90 ships and 243 lives in a just three years. A new wing was built in 1900 but the gaol was closed in 1903. It was briefly used an an internment camp during world War 1 but was then closed permanently as retained as a historic building.

Gaol entrance

The gaol is open for inspection with regular tours. A camping site with access to the bay itself is located nearby.

Kangaroo at Smoky Cape Lighthouse - panoramio

Smoky Bay Lighthouse