I waken to a beautiful morning – happily, as this is my last full day in this lovely unspoilt area. First on the agenda is a visit inside the old gaol.
There is a fascinating history – built as a Public Works prison in 1877, it had its first intake of prisoners in 1886 who were paid a small wage to build a breakwater across the bay, as a shelter for ships.
The project was abandoned in the 1890’s as severe storms caused the breakwater to wash away and caused major damage. The prison was closed in 1903.
It was re-opened in 1915 as an internment camp for German nationals. 582 internees – mostly wealthy, well educated men who posed a threat to military authorities were separated from their families and sent here to wait out the war. These enterprising men built shops within the gaol walls, and traded their wares. They supplemented their food rations with home grown vegetables and fish caught in the bay.
The internment camp was de-commissioned in May, 1918 when reports of a sighting of a German warship in the bay, lead to concerns that a camp liberation was planned. The camp was swiftly closed and all internees were relocated back to Holsworthy, Sydney until the war ended. Most (even naturalised Australians) were returned to Germany.
The gaol was stripped of its fittings, and in 1922 was sold off for the princely sum of 800 pounds! It became known as the “Old Gaol Ruins” and used for recreation purposes.
I then proceeded on a bush walk to the German monument – built as a memorial to the five Germans who died whilst at the internment prison – then continued on to Little Bay.
Oh wow! What a beautiful little beach it was! Of course, a swim was in order.
A fisherman kindly took a photo of me in the water – to add to my collection of ‘photos of me swimming’ from all over the world.
Another enjoyable bushwalk back to camp, a quick shower and up to the restaurant that is situated just behind my campsite. The Trial Bay Gaol Kiosk and Café is a popular place – it has been crowded for breakfast and lunch every day I’ve been here. Cajun chicken and avocado salad and a Cascade beer was my choice for lunch, I wasn’t disappointed.
A bit of a nap – it sounds like all I do is have afternoon naps, but that’s what camping is all about – then another swim in the now low tide of the bay. I have to wade out some distance before I reach water I can get wet in. I then wander down to a beachside barbecue hut to recharge my computer, and wait for the sun to set over the bay for some beautiful photos. A couple of the grey kangaroos bound past me – I love this place!
Thanks to a night with no rain, I am able to pack up my gear and tent easily the following morning. Being a neat freak, it took longer than it should have as I meticulously packed everything back into place in the boot of my car, and wiped the dirt off tent pegs, the base of the tent and the tarp. And pondered why my daughters laugh at my obsession with cleanliness and neatness. A quick shower, a stop at the office for another postcard of this magical place, a goodbye to the kangaroo family I had befriended, and I was on my way to my next housesitting assignment – in the Hunter Valley. Not before another stop at Fredo’s Pie Shop for a coffee and cake.
My ‘Must Do’s’ for Trial Bay:
- Visit the gaol – an important part of our history
- Do the Monument walk to Little Bay – a gorgeous little beach – picnic facilities
- Visit Smoky Cape Lighthouse – great architecture and stunning coastal views
- Dine at the Trial Bay Gaol Kiosk and Café – good food in a picturesque setting
- Walk along the beach – keep an eye out for dolphins
- Visit the camping ground (or stay) – see the kangaroos at dusk throughout the park
- Visit Horseshoe Bay at South West Rocks and swim in the safe waters
- Try a gelato at Chillati, next to Geppo’s Restaurant at Horseshoe Bay
- Visit the little town of Gladstone, browse through the Arts and Crafts shop, dine at the Riverside Restaurant and stop at the pub opposite the riverside park for a drink
- See the fishing fleet moored along the banks of the Macleay River at Jerseyville