Arakoon State Conservation Area is located three kilometres east of South West Rocks, New South Wales, Australia. This reserve is home to Trial Bay Gaol (1886), a picturesque ruin which was built as a public works prison but was also used as a World War I internment camp. The gaol is surrounded by rocky foreshores and pleasant sandy beaches.
It took 13 years to construct it and it must have been a strange feeling building a prison in such a beautiful setting. The prison labourers were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. Unfortunately the scheme failed, however you’re still able to see the remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. During World War I the gaol became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers.
Today, this picturesque historic ruin stands as a testament to those who lived and died here, with a museum and memorial for visitors to get a better idea of life in those days.
There’s no doubt that it’s in an ideal position and to me it’s all the more appealing and beautiful for being in ruins. It allows the sun, rain and clouds to come right into the gaol giving it a surreal atmosphere more so than a well preserved Gaol.