When South is East

When South is East

Travelling north with a caravan during winter, has become an Australian retiree’s “rite of passage”. This winter we joined the initiated.

Our first destination was a small town on the east coast of NSW Australia, South West Rocks. I was puzzled by the name. South West of where?……..It’s right on the east coast? There is a logical explanation…….well sort of.


The town centre sits on the edge of Horseshoe Bay, with the council caravan park front and centre. We arrived around 12 noon, but had to wait until the attendent arrived back from lunch to check in. So we walked the park to find our site. While trying to get our bearings we realised the midday winter sun was “hanging” at around 10 O’clock, a puzzle solved by a smarphone compass. Horseshoe Bay faces due north and so does Trial Bay. Rather disconcerting, when every instinct indicates they face east.

As seen below Horseshoe Bay is rather small, about 100 meters across the sand, while Trial Bay is quite large and deep enough for ships to anchor.

Facing EAST across Horseshoe Bay, then across Trial Bay, with Laggers Point on the horizon.

Laggers Point is the site of the Trial Bay Gaol. The gaol was completed in 1886 initially to house prisoners who would build a sea wall (breakwater) at the point. However, due to the difficulty in cutting the local rock (granite) and damaging storms the breakwater project was abandoned after only 300 meters was completed, of the planned 1500 meters. Today about 50 meters of the wall remains. During WWI the gaol found a new purpose as a German internment camp. It is now a tourist attraction and has many interesting stories to tell. Well worth a visit.

Trial Bay Gaol – part of the western perimeter wall on left, with one of the cell block external walls on right


The area is also rich in nautical history.

Flag Signalling Station at Horseshoe Bay which, amoung other purposes, helped guide ships into the Macleay River, about 1 km north west of here.

Around 15 minutes drive south east of South West Rocks is the Smokey Cape Lighthouse

This is such an impressive structure. Somehow I managed to make it look less so.


It is probably obvious, but in case you missed it, we were travelling north to find warmer weather. Our hopes of that were slightly dented by a wide spread east coast low pressure system. Nights were cold, mornings (after 9.30 am) were warmish and  northerly winds gradually gathered velocity from around 12 noon each day, peaking at around 6pm.

This brave lady bather entered the water at around 6.30 am on one of the colder, windier mornings
Multipurpose Hall, next to the maritime cottages.

Despite some bad weather, I really enjoyed South West Rocks. And for residents, there seems to be plenty to keep them entertained in doors.


We left South West Rocks for Yamba on the worst possible day. Winds were strong and rain heavy. I was totally soaked, cold and feeling miserable by the time the van was “locked down”, hitched and ready to go. Some of our wiser companions decided to stay until the next day and the promise of a dry pack up. Although we had several hours in the warm sun of Yamba the next day, while they were still travelling to get there.

See you in Yamba, 245 kilometers from here
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