Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Arakoon National Park

February 18 - 27:

We have just returned home after meeting friends from Canberra. We were camped at Arakoon National Park. It's located just over 100 Km's south of where we live. We also try and camp here ourselves at least once each year.

Unfortunately, we could not have chosen a worse time to be away. We were camped here while much of the east coast was under an intense low-pressure system. This particular system produced gale forced winds along the coast, heavy rainfall which led to flash flooding of the Macleay River and very rough seas. In fact we were stranded and unable to come home because the Pacific Highway was cut in several places.

The campground at Arakoon is located on the bay side of Laggers Point on a strip between the beach and the historic Trial Bay Gaol and faces the town of South West Rocks across the bay. The gaol and trees along the sea front protect the camping area from the worst of the weather blowing in off the ocean.
The campsites along the sea front are not powered but are level and are quite generously large. There are powered sites but these sites are further away from the beach with only few having a glimpse of the sea.
The Gaol was established as a public works prison in the 1870's. It was built to house prison labourer's, brought here to build a breakwater designed to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. The scheme was a failure because it was impossible to maintain the break wall.
The un-powered sites are between the pine trees.
During World War 1, the gaol was used as a camp for people of German descent, interned by the government as possible 'enemy' sympathisers.
A few kilometres south of Arakoon is Smoky Cape Lighthouse in Hat Head National Park. Smoky Cape was named by Captain Cook in 1770. He named it because of the great amount of smoke from aboriginal burn-off fires on the headland. The lighthouse was completed in 1891 and is now fully automated.
The complex of buildings consist of the lighthouse, head keeper's residence, assistant keepers residence and stables. The residence's have been refurbished and are available for rent.
The view south from Smoky Cape with Hat Head National Park on the right and Crescent Head in the distance. The rock in the centre of the picture is a well known dive site called "Fish Rock".
Divers are able to swim through a cave in the rock that runs through its centre. It's also a habitat for Grey Nurse sharks. Dive boats leave from South West Rocks.