NSW Top Tourism Town Finalist

Welcome to 

South West rocks

Small Town: population between 1,500 - 5,000 residents

09:00 Weds 13 April - till - 17:00 Weds 27 April.
Members of the public may lodge only one vote for one town in each category. See Terms & Conditions.

jaw-dropping beaches, world-class fishing, diving, and hiking trails, South West Rocks is a haven for nature-lovers 

Perched beside spectacular beaches and surrounded by impressive national parks, dive sites and fishing spots, South West Rocks is a haven for anyone who loves the outdoors. Take the opportunity to hike, swim, paddle or dive in an unspoiled environment or simply kick off your shoes and enjoy delicious food and interesting attractions at your own pace.

Whether you’ve got 24 hours or a week to spend in this delightful town, here are our tips for squeezing the magic out of your stay…

Begin your day by paddle-boarding amongst dolphins, stingrays and schools of tropical fish in the turquoise waters of Back Creek with a SWR SUP sunrise tour. End a perfect morning with a refreshing swim and a coffee by the river at the Back Creek Café or head up to local favourite Malt & Honey for sizzling bacon and eggs.

After breakfast, walk down to Horseshoe Bay – one of the prettiest beaches on this stretch of coast – for a refreshing dip. Alternatively, venture beyond the town center to Trial Bay Kiosk for a mouth-watering breakfast with stunning views over the peaceful waters of Trial Bay.

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Vote for this amazing Small town in the 2022 Top Tourism Town Awards


From there, set aside a couple of hours to investigate the eerie ruins of Trial Bay Gaol, a world-class attraction that was built to house prisoners in 1886 and again used as an internment camp for local German residents who were suspected to be spies during World War 1.

The realistic displays and informative museum give a glimpse into what life must have been like for prisoners. Kids will love the resident kangaroos, who can be found lazily lounging around every corner!

Take the scenic drive through lush forest to Smoky Cape Lighthouse, where you can climb the steep staircase to enjoy breathtaking views. Better still, visit the lighthouse during whale migration season (May – Nov) to watch these gentle giants make their way up and down the coast. History buffs can book a guided tour of the lighthouse or stay in the heritage-listed Smoky Cape Lighthouse Cottages.

From the lighthouse, you’ll find some fantastic hiking trails through Hat Head and Arakoon National parks. Trails range from the easy Monument Hill Loop to the more challenging 10-kilometre route from Smoky Cape Lighthouse to Trial Bay, hugging the coast through groves of paperbarks, coastal rainforest and heathland. Pack your bathers to indulge in a post-hike swim at one of the many gorgeous beaches!

If that’s not enough action for one day, book a dive tour and explore the underwater wonderland that is Fish Rock Cave. 

Experienced divers will be entranced by the abundance of marine life that surrounds Fish Rock – known as one of Australia’s top 5 cave dives.

Fish Rock is also home to a completely unique ecosystem filled with friendly turtles, grey nurse sharks and gardens of rare black coral all waiting to be discovered.

Prefer to stay above water? South West Rocks is known as an excellent fishing destination where anglers can try their luck in the estuaries, off the rocks, or out at sea. Book a fishing charter from one of the town’s experts for guidance on how to land a big one or bring a boat and choose your own adventure.

A lesser-known gem can be found at Boyters Lane Bird Hide, a haven for birdwatchers located just outside South West Rocks on an old dairy farm. Sit inside the constructed bird hide, or wander along the two kilometres of built walkways to witness the diversity of local birdlife. 

Learn more about local wildlife and the significance of the land to the Dunghutti people by joining a Marrgaan Cultural Experience. The Dunghutti people nurture a deep connection with their land, and generously share their knowledge with visitors through organised cultural activities including art, dance and weaving. The Maritime Museum and Boatman’s Cottage also offers a glimpse into another aspect of local culture with an interesting display of photographs, paintings and artefacts documenting South West Rocks’ rich maritime history.

After an energetic day in the outdoors, reward yourself with a seafood feast (much of it locally caught) from the Seabreeze Beach Hotel - a buzzing local hub that regularly hosts live music. Alternatively, grab a tasty Pilot Station pizza, takeaway Thai or enjoy an up-market meal at The Rocks Restaurant & Grill. Round your dinner off with decadent gelato from Chillati.

For a place to rest your head, South West Rocks offers a wide range of holiday accommodation - from beachside parks and family holiday homes to the exclusive Salt cabins. Choose from the variety of guesthouses, apartments, motels and retreats dotted throughout the town, then put your feet up and relish life in the slow lane!


Three days in South West Rocks

One day is simply not enough to explore the wonders of this sun-soaked village,  but it’s a great place to begin.

Boasting jaw-dropping beaches, world-class fishing and diving, and a host of hiking trails, South West Rocks is a haven for nature-lovers. It’s also home to the Trial Bay Gaol, a unique attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. One day is simply not enough to explore the wonders of this sun-soaked village, but it’s a great place to begin.


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