Arriving at South West Rocks on Sunday the 4th February we drove through the town to check everything out before finding our spot to camp at a nearby National Park . We stayed at Smoky Cape Camp Area in Arakoon -Hat Head National Park. The camping area was nearly empty when we arrived (this is off peak season) and we found ourselves a good spot close to the beach access track. We had kangaroos & goannas strolling through our campsite every day, there was a big buck male roo who was a little intimidating with his big claws and was inquisitive; he would come right into our camp site. No issues with the wild life we just gave them their space and ensured we didn’t leave any food or rubbish out. The camp grounds had a long drop toilet and that was about it, no water, no showers, no bins, but that meant it was cheaper than the big caravan parks in South West Rocks, those campers in the caravan park wouldn’t have a clue on what they were missing out on just down the road with a short stroll over the dunes we had the entire beach to ourselves.
Not far from our camp was the Smoky Cape Light House, there is a great view from the headland with some interesting history as well. You can walk around the lighthouse for free but there are also some guided daily tours if you are after some more information.
Another historical sight to see in South West Rocks is Trail Bay Goal. Originally was a prison labor camp positioned here for the prisoners to construct a break wall, the break wall was eventually abandoned as progress was slow and the goal was later used during WW1 to house German internees. Another ripper view from this head land, the goal has paid daily tours but again you can get a good enough look from the headland – Laggers Point.
South West Rocks has some beautiful beaches and creeks to swim in. We went for a snorkel on the last of the incoming tide at Back Creek, plenty of fish to see but when it came time to breaking out the fishing rods they were nowhere to be seen.
One of the main reason we stayed near South West Rocks was because it came highly recommended as a must do dive site. We dove with Pete and his team at South West Rocks Dive Centre, what a great group of enthusiastic people and what a dive. We dove Fish Rock which was just offshore from our campsite. The dive boat left from the Macleay River, out the bar and a short ride to the dive site. We had 2 dives on the rock, the first was to about 25 meters where we saw plenty of grey nurse & wobbegong sharks around the rock; the biggest sharks we have been in the water with to date (over 2 meters)! The next dive was at the same location but this time into the cave underneath the rock. This dive was epic! Under torch light into the cave we saw more sharks, a sea turtle jamming itself into a crack to try eat some sea sponge, crazy amount of huge crayfish (if only it was legal to catch them on scuba..), stingrays, eels, and plenty of fish.
I snuck in a quick game of golf at the South West Rocks Country Club, very cheap for a course of its quality and would defiantly recommend having a hit here if you are staying nearby.
We met some fellow travelers that were doing a similar trip to us however they had left WA heading for Townsville, then onto NZ to sail their yacht back!!! Mike & Jules have a 76 series Landcrusier towing a decked out custom box/camper trailer with roof top tent – you should see this setup, even has a full BBQ on a pullout slider. They were looking for a place to camp so we invited them back to Smoky Cape. These guys were a wealth of knowledge on all fronts and we picked their brains about places to stay along the way as well as mechanical advice on the Troopy. We had a great couple of days with Mike & Jules and were sad to head different ways this morning but will be following their journey closely and defiantly will keep in contact. Keep an eye out for their rig heading up the QLD coast soon @dustyadventures these guys have been to some cool places they we cannot wait to visit ourselves!
That’s our wrap up of south west rocks, plenty to see and do, we had a ripper time and being only 4.5 hours south of the Qld/NSW border, I’d say we’d be back.
Camp Location: Smoky Cape Campground, Arakoon, NSW
Cost = $6/p/night plus $8/vehicle/day *Facilities = Drop Toilet and Beach access
Travelled From: Thora, NSW
Distance Travelled: 111 kilometres
Next Stop: Swans Crossing, NSW