South West Rocks, New South Wales

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South West Rocks
New South Wales
South West Rocks
South West Rocks is located in New South Wales
South West Rocks
South West Rocks
Coordinates 30°53′03″S 153°02′25″E / 30.88417°S 153.04028°E / -30.88417; 153.04028Coordinates: 30°53′03″S 153°02′25″E / 30.88417°S 153.04028°E / -30.88417; 153.04028
Population 4,816 (2011 Census)[1]
Postcode(s) 2431
Location 40 km (25 mi) from Kempsey
LGA(s) Kempsey Shire
State electorate(s) Oxley
Federal Division(s) Cowper
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.2 °C
74 °F
15.6 °C
60 °F
1,489.7 mm
58.6 in

South West Rocks is located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, near the mouth of the Macleay River. It is approximately 40 km from Kempsey. Jerseyville is located nearby.

The population of South West Rocks is 4,816 people,[1] and maintains a steady growth rate. The tourist population of South West Rocks increases markedly during the holiday season. Beautiful scenery, numerous beaches, and man-made attractions such as Trial Bay Gaol and Smoky Cape Lighthouse are popular tourist attractions. Because of the warm ocean in the area fed by the East Coast current which flows down from the tropical regions it is possible to swim all year round. This also with its natural beauty makes it a sought after holiday destination.

Many of the population of South West Rocks are retired. Many move to the area upon their retirement to enjoy the natural beauty the area offers.

Trial Bay is one of the few north facing bays on the Australian east coast.


Arakoon was originally established as the township on Trial Bay in 1866. However, by 1889, South West Rocks had established itself as a popular bathing resort with people of the Macleay Valley. South West Rocks got its name most likely from the captains of passing ships, who claimed it was safest to moor vessels near the rocks, south west of Laggers Point (the point on which Trial Bay Gaol is built). Another theory is that their moorings would be safe if they kept the rocks to their south west. Trial Bay was named after a brig, The Trial, which was stolen and wrecked by convicts in 1816 in the bay that now bears its name.[citation needed]

On 13 May 1770, Captain James Cook observed smoke from a fire on a mountain which he named Smoky Cape. The headland in front of the mountain is now the location of Smoky Cape Lighthouse.[citation needed]

In 1972, a Sydney Harbour showboat, Sydney Queen, and the former Newcastle car carriers Lurgurena and Koondooloo, were wrecked on the Main Beach after breaking free from their moorings in heavy storms.[2] Elements of all three vessels were salvaged, but the hull of Sydney Queen filled with sand and could not be removed. It was eventually burned to the waterline to remove the obstruction from the beach.[2]


South West Rocks has a long history of commercial fishing. Local fishermen, OceanWatch Australia and the local surf life saving club hold an annual Loaves and Fishes Barbeque on Good Friday.

Aged Care[edit]

South West Rocks also has an Aged Care Facility known as the "South West Rocks Nursing Centre" which has 80 rooms low to High Care and employs many of the people who reside in South West Rocks.


The South West Rocks News comes as a cover page to Tuesday edition of the Kempsey The Macleay Valley Argus.

A weekly free paper and magazine are home delivered every Wednesday to households within the Kempsey Shire and Nambucca Shire.

TV Broadcasts are usually received from Mt Moombil, west of Coffs Harbour, though in some locations it is possible to receive signals from Middlebrother Mtn, North-east of Taree.

Radio signals are able to be received from multiple locations, including; Port Macquarie, Kempsey, and Coffs Harbour.


South West Rocks' main shopping street is Prince Of Wales Avenue. The other major shopping centre is The Rocks Shopping Fair (with a Coles supermarket) on Gregory Street, closer to the town's entrance. The (Wests) IGA Supermarket is also located a further kilometre or so to the North along Gregory Street and there are also two petrol stations Located in Gregory Street.


Development in the town has increased over the past few years, with The Rocks Shopping Fair opening in 2002, and an adjacent housing subdivision known as Oceanside.

South West Rocks may be divided into five main areas: South West Rocks, Arakoon, Oceanside, New Entrance and Spencerville. Arakoon is located to the east of South West Rocks and is home to Trial Bay Gaol. New Entrance is the river mouth located to the west of South West Rocks and locals also refer to the residential area on a ridge just to the east of the Macleay River at the river mouth as New Entrance.

Oceanside is located adjacent to The Rocks Shopping Fair; it is a relatively new subdivision in South West Rocks and consists of recently built houses.[citation needed] Spencerville is the most southern area of South West Rocks. It runs from The Rocks Shopping Fair south to Spencers Creek Bridge and was its own village prior to recent development in Oceanside that joined South West Rocks and Spencerville.



South West Rocks has two pre-schools and a Government primary school, South West Rocks Public School. There is no high school despite the efforts of the Lower Macleay Valley High School Association. High school students travel to Kempsey to one of the three high schools, Melville High School, Kempsey High School or St Paul's Catholic College. Some primary school students also travel to St Josephs Primary School, Kempsey East Public School or Kinchela Primary School.


South West Rocks has a warm and wet subtropical climate. The warmest month on average is February with a mean maximum temperature of 26.9°C and the coldest month on average is July with a mean maximum temperature of 18.7 °C. The wettest month is March and the driest month is September. South West Rocks experiences a mean of 137.4 raindays annually, with the most occurring in March and the least occurring in July. South West Rocks gets the highest mean amount of rain during the Autumn and the lowest mean amount of rain during the Spring. Some of the heaviest rainfall received at South West Rocks is quite often received from weather systems known as "East Coast Low Pressure systems" also known as "Mid Latitude Cyclones" not to be confused with Tropical Cyclones which are formed by different type of convection currents. These weather Systems often cause major flooding in the valley and also cause beach erosion and wind damage. Approximately an average of four of these systems impact on the area each year to varying degrees depending on there location and mostly occur from January to June although have been known to occur at other times of the year. Tropical cyclones which form further to the north have been known to impact on the area occasionally but this has only happened on a about half a dozen occasions over the last 100 years. South West Rocks' thunderstorm activity is mainly during the period from September to March (inclusive), with October and November being the months where the risk of a severe thunderstorm is increased due to a relatively high frequency of unstable atmospheric conditions which favour frequent and strong thunderstorm development. Hail is relatively rare at South West Rocks, only occurring once every year or two, and it is usually less than 2 centimetres in diameter.

Climatic Averages for South West Rocks (Smoky Cape Lighthouse)[edit]

Climate data for South West Rocks (Smoky Cape Lighthouse, 1939–2013)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 39.5
Average high °C (°F) 26.9
Average low °C (°F) 19.5
Record low °C (°F) 13.3
Average rainfall mm (inches) 148.1
Avg. precipitation days 13.5 13.9 15.5 12.9 11.3 10.5 8.2 8.2 8.3 11.1 11.7 12.8 137.9
Average relative humidity (%) 75 77 75 72 70 68 63 62 67 71 73 75 71
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[3]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "South West Rocks (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Connaughton, Todd (4 August 2009). "Righting record: Night of wrecks recalled in detail". Macleay Argus (Rural Press Ltd). p. 11. 
  3. ^ "South West Rocks Smoky Cape Lighthouse". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Carey, Caroline (1993). Tales of Trial Bay - An Early History of South west Rocks. South West Rocks, Australia: C. Carey. p. 238. ISBN 0-646-14914-8. 

External links[edit]