We awoke this morning to a spectacular sunrise and clear blue skies, so after a late breakfast decided to drop into Trial Bay Gaol located just down the road at Arakoon. Again, we were completely in awe at the location and views from this spot. It seems crazy to have built a prison in a spot where a 5-star resort should really be!
Opened in 1886 and built for the purpose of housing good-behaviour prisoners there to construct the still-existing breakwater, we were surprised to hear about the tidy conditions and allowances given to the prisoners – including building their own tennis court for leisure and running their on businesses from the inside – and ultimately saddened at its demise. With the realities of World War I edging closer, suspicions regarding anyone with German origins or links increased and when a German ship was spotted close to shore under heavy disguise, a swift decision was made to close the prison in case any connections or escape plans were had by the prisoners. With less than 24 hours notice, whatever they couldn’t take with them was burned, including all the buildings they had carefully constructed themselves.
The remains of the Gaol are in excellent condition, and it’s easy to get a real feel for how things might have been over 100 years ago. Informative signs and a video room tell real stories about how life was, but watch out for the local kangaroos who are now the Gaol’s only inhabitants.
Entry to the Gaol costs $7 per adult, which goes towards maintaining the grounds and preserving the site’s history – a small price to pay for a few hours in a real life history lesson, and well worth the price.
The calm water bay below the Gaol, created thanks to the breakwater, was too tempting to pass up, and though the blue skies disappeared as soon as our kayaks hit the bay, the water was stunningly clear and allowed a lovely view of the Trial Bay Gaol Campground. With concrete pads, fires allowed, oceanfront sites and shade aplenty, and three amenities within walking distance, we could quite easily come back here to stay when we pick up our caravan. Definitely well worth a stop if you’re in the area.