The cape was named Smoky Cape by Captain Cook when he passed it on 13 May 1770, writing of "a point or headland, on which were fires that Caused a great Quantity of smook, which occasioned my giving it the name of Smooky Cape". Smook was his usual spelling of smoke, the spelling for the cape now follows the modern spelling. The hills there were an important meeting place for aboriginal people from various surrounding areas, it's possible Cook saw fires from such a gathering.
A lighthouse was proposed for the cape in 1886 and completed in 1891. Known as the Smoky Cape Lighthouse it was built from concrete and local granite aggregate in an octagonal shape at the highest point on the cape.
Fish Rock is a small bare rock which juts out of the sea just south-east of the cape. It's a noted scuba diving location and home to various fish species. A 120-metre cave runs right under the rock and there are various gutters nearby where Grey Nurse Sharks live. The area is one of about a dozen in New South Wales recognised as critical for the shark, and for that reason fishing is restricted, but the grey nurse is still affected by fishing. The only restrictions are anchoring within 100m and bottom fishing, however boats are still allowed to drift up as close as they want and drop their lines. Fisheries have also been reported to have only been seen at Fish Rock twice in the past 6 years.
- "Place Names Search: Smoky Cape". Geoscience Australia.
- Parkin, Ray, H. M. Bark Endeavour, Miegunyah Press, second edition 2003, ISBN 0-522-85093-6, page 227.
- Neil, Marie H.. (1972) Valley of the Macleay. ISBN 0-85587-037-0. chapters 2 and 3
- McFadyen, Michael. "Fish Rock - Sahr Gutters". Retrieved July 24, 2008.
- "Grey nurse shark critical habitat and buffer zones". NSW Department of Primary Industries. Archived from the original on August 5, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2008.
- Smoky Cape Lighthouse page at the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
- For photos of the area see the South West Rocks Photo Gallery