Anai: “Should I be worried?”
Monique: “I’m really not sure…maybe”
Anai: “You’re Australian, you should know this shit”
We both froze in our places as the big daddy kangaroo continued to eat his grass and move closer and closer to where Anai was siting. We both knew that he was a wild animal, with sharp claws and hind legs that can kill, but we had been camping for a few days with these gentle giants and none of them had even look twice at us. This guys was different though. He was HUGE.. and he was not within one metre from us.
We sat very still, stopped talking and tried not to think of all the YouTube videos we have seen of male kangaroos fighting each other. It seemed to work – either that or the roo really just did not give a shit that we were there – and eventually he hopped away and joined the rest of his family a safe 50m away.
We have seen a lot of kangaroos on this trip, especially at Belyando Crossing and Cape Hillsborough, but never have we been so close them nor have they looked so healthy and muscly. These are some big, well fed and docile kangaroos! You can see why too. The campsite at Trial Bay Goal is very green, grassy and spacious. The surrounding areas is National Park and State Conservation Area and development has been kept to a minimum. It’s a nature lovers dream, we loved it!
Setting the scene for you, Trial Bay Goal campsite sits beside the town of South West Rocks, which is part of the Macleay Valley Coast. The attractions on the area are the stunning and jagged coastline which gives way to small protected cove beaches and bays, each with crystal clear water and surrounded by wildlife. The Trial Bay Goal camping grounds is just as it sounds; a goal (jail). The jail was built to house prisoners who were working on building a breakwall to protect Trial Bay and is only a small prison but a great example of early architecture in Australia. It’s both pretty and holds impressive views over the Pacific Ocean.
We camped at Trial bay Goal for nearly a week and spent a lot of time walking the beaches and bushwalking. We took the mandatory trip to the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, which is the cover of all the tourist brochures in the area, but to be honest was not all the impressive – except for the photo opp below thanks to this little dude.
Much more impressive was Trial Bay itself. The large sandy beach sweeps from the Trial Bay Goal campground to the town of South West Rocks. It’s an easy 4-5km walk along the beach each way from campsite to town and well worth it. Best time to visit are weekdays as on the weekends the beach fills up with 4WDs and trucks of the fishermen. The bay is shallow and great for swimmers who are a little hesitant to head out into the rips and dangers of the Pacific Ocean.
If you head out into the water on low tide you can walk for about 500m and still only be waist deep. Great for kayaking and paddle boards too, you can see straight though the crystal clear water and view all the fishies and sea-creatures below you.
click here to See more photos from our Legendary pacific coast tour
For a short walk, start at the Goal an head towards Little Bay. It’s only about a 30-40 minute walk and very easy. You will be treated with a small, hidden beach that you can have all to yourself for the most part. There is also road access so if you’re not a walker you can drive in too. The carpark is full of kangaroos and there are picnic and toilet facilities here also. We saw a fair few people sleeping in the car park, which to be honest is what we would be doing if we had a van too. Camping in this area is EXPENSIVE. Overly so. Trail Bay campground cost us $178 for 6 nights. That’s nearly $30 per night in the low season for the cheap campsites (expect to pay more if you want to camp with a view of the beach or with power). The camping ground offered bathroom facilities and BBQs that you had to pay for, but nothing else. No stove, no access to fridges. However that is the way things roll in NSW. National Parks are VERY expensive to camp in, and those that are a little cheaper (closer to $20 per night, with park entrance fees included) have only drop toilets and no water access. After the amazing campsites in QLD we are very disappointed in NSW.
I digress. Little Bay is well worth visiting.
We also took a drive out to Hat Head National Park and visited Hat Head Gap Beach where we saw the biggest pod of dolphins that we have every laid eyes on! There must have been at least 50 out there! Sadly they were too far away to photograph with any kind of impact, but our naked eyes enjoyed the view. There is also a lovely walk over the headland and across to more beautiful beaches that you will have all to yourself.
Where to head to after South West Rocks?
For those heading north – Ballina Coast & Hinterland – Lennox Head. That’s all you need to know about this region. Go there. Love it. Struggle to leave. Vow to return.
For those heading south – Camden Haven Great for checking out or an overnight stay. Unless you’re really into fishing or bushwalking, then this is your new fave holiday destination. Even for those in a hurry, there are a couple of magical lookouts that you can drive to that are well worth leaving the highway for.