South West Rocks, the largest seaside town in the Macleay Valley, combines a variety of beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery. 39kms north east of Kempsey at the mouth of the Macleay River, the “Rocks” as it is affectionately known, is a mecca for fishermen, divers and surfers.
One of the reasons for the popularity of South West Rocks is the variety of beaches and the fact that they face different directions - Trial Bay Beach faces west, one of the few beaches on the east coast to do so! Beaches include Horseshoe Bay, Back Beach, Main Beach, Trial Bay, Little Bay, Gap Beach, North Smoky and Smoky Beach.
Note: Trial Bay stretches from Laggers Point to Grassy Head.
The South West Rocks area has a fascinating history and many old buildings can still be seen. Smoky Cape was named by Captain Cook on May 13, 1770. Trial Bay Gaol, a public works prison, was first occupied in 1886 and Smoky Cape Lighthouse was opened in 1891. A brochure available from the Visitor Information Centre, Browse Around South West Rocks, guides visitors on a heritage walk around the village.
Many people are confused by the name “South West Rocks”; the name originated when the pilot officer used to advise Masters of vessels to anchor in Trial Bay so that the rocks would be south west of them and this would ensure their ship would be in deep water.
Shopping centres, restaurants, cafes and takeaways, hotel, Tavern, South West Rocks Country Club with 3 bowling greens, an 18 hole golf course and tennis courts; squash courts, boat ramps, 25m pool, dive shops, boat hire, charter deep sea and river fishing, river cruises; bike, boogie board, catamaran and sailboard hire; churches, movies shown in the community hall NSW school holidays; picnic and barbecue areas, parks and lookouts; pre, infants and primary school; child care, community halls, Visitor Information Centre, heritage walk and bushwalks.
4 motels, 3 caravan parks, 2 camping grounds, self contained units, cottages and cabins,1 guesthouse and 3 Bed and Breakfasts.
Trial Bay Gaol, Smoky Cape Lighthouse, the Boatman's Cottage which includes the Visitor Information Centre, a small maritime museum and an arts & crafts display; Markets, Aquarium, Oyster barn, Arakoon State Recreation Area, Hat Head National Park; rock, beach, creek, river, estuary and deep sea fishing; surfing, diving, Fish Rock Cave, the wrecks of the Sydney Queen, the Lurgurena and the Koondooloo, Captain Cook Lookout, the Macleay River, Macleay River Fishermans Co-operative, heritage and bushwalks.
Major annual events
February - Trial Bay Triathlon
February - National Beach Soccer Titles
May - South West Rocks Fishing Classic
Mention surfing and the picturesque seaside village of Crescent Head immediately springs to mind. 19kms south east of Kempsey, the village fronts Killick Creek and the ocean and is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hat Head National Park, Goolawah Reserve and the Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve.
Beaches include Front Beach, Back Beach, Goolawah Beach, Racecourse, Delicate Nobby and Big Hill. The village nestles in to the northern side of Big Nobby and this northerly aspect makes village life very comfortable. A 360 degree view of the village, ocean and surrounding countryside can be enjoyed from Skyline Lookout, atop Big Nobby.
Aboriginal sites of significance, including a fish trap and midden at Point Plomer and a bora ring at Richardson's Crossing, provide an interesting link with the past. Crescent Head was the site of the first native title claim in Australia in 1995 and it was granted in 1997. To the west of Crescent Head lie wetlands and floodplains which link the Hastings and the Macleay River systems. This area is a haven for native flora and fauna.
Shopping centre, restaurants, cafes and takeaways, tavern, Country Club with 2 bowling greens, a 6 hole golf course and tennis courts; boat ramp, 25 m pool, bike hire; pre, infants and primary schools; community halls, picnic and barbecue spots, parks and lookout, churches and bushwalks.
3 motels, 2 caravan parks, camping grounds, self contained units, cottages and cabins.
Major annual events
May - Crescent Head Malibu Classic
June - Crescent Head Sky Show
32kms north east of Kempsey and right in the heart of the Hat Head National Park lies the peaceful village of Hat Head. Popular with fishermen, families and bushwalkers, the town is renowned for its productive fishing and tranquil lifestyle. Korogoro Creek meanders through the village providing a safe, protected site for swimming, snorkelling, fishing and paddling. Beaches include Hat Head Beach, Korogoro Creek, Connors Beach, Third Beach and Hungry Beach.
The dominant feature of the area is the Hat Head Trig which towers 164 metres above sea level. Views from the top are awe inspiring and the trig, and Korogoro Point have been identified as good whale watching venues. A series of trails lead the bushwalker through diverse terrain and, in spring, the wildflowers are spectacular. Hat Head was chosen as the site for the pilot scheme for DuneCare in Australia and the active group of residents has had a positive impact on the dunal barrier system protecting the village.
Shops, takeaway food outlets; bowling club with 2 bowling greens and a restaurant; tennis courts, boat ramp; picnic and barbecue spots; church, parks, lookouts and bushwalks.
Caravan park, camping ground, self contained units and cottages.
Major annual events
December - Hat Head Trig Marathon
43kms north east of Kempsey is the quiet riverside village of Stuarts Point. Sheltering beneath Mount Yarrahapinni, the township is the focal point for the beaches, including Grassy Head, that stretch north from the mouth of the Macleay River to the Kempsey Shire's boundary above Middle Head.
Stuarts Point was the first port of call for vessels when the entrance to the Macleay River was at Grassy Head. When the entrance silted up after a new opening was created near South West Rocks by a flood in 1893, the waterway became a peaceful aquatic playground for fishermen, sailors and water-skiers. A quaint footbridge, and a short walk through the sand dunes, links the village of Stuarts Point with a 9 kilometre beach.
Grassy Head beach is popular with families and the headland and rainforest walks add to the relaxed atmosphere of this peaceful holiday destination. The Way Way Forest Drive allows wonderful views and incorporates the Yarrahapinni Lookout and the Pines Picnic Area. Evidence of early aboriginal settlement abounds in this area with some of the largest shell middens on the coast being found on private property at nearby Clybucca.
Shops, takeaway food outlets, restaurants, tavern, tea room, bowling club with 2 bowling greens; tennis courts; boat ramps, picnic and barbecue spots, parks, churches, lookouts and bushwalks.
Caravan parks; self contained units and cottages; motel and lodge style accommodation; a guesthouse, Bed and Breakfast at "Peace in Paradise". Group accommodation is also available at the Ecology Centre - a Seventh Day Adventist Convention Centre.
Way Way Forest Drive; Pines Picnic Area and rainforest walk; Yarrahapinni Lookout, Yarrahapinni Ecology Centre, beach, rock, river and estuary fishing; surfing, water based activities, bushwalking, Lavender Farm at nearby Clybucca.