Tacoma, New South Wales, Australia
January 3, 2003
The gaol was first built and used, from 1886-1903, as a civilian prison. Prisoners themselves constructed the prison and were housed at this location to finally construct a seawall in the vicinity.
The gaol was later, from 1915 to 1918, used to house enemy alien internees during the First World War. Upon leaving the prison at the end of their internment the released internees burnt to the ground some of the buildings.
The Gate House is where you pay the admission fee and is where you can visit a small indoor museum; the museum has items belonging to the prisoners, items installed at the prison, and documents that name the original prisoners and their offences for which they were imprisoned.
There are plaques placed outside every building and beside every place and item of interest. These plaques have numbers on them and the numbers coincide with numbers that are on a map that you get given at the administration desk once you have paid your admission.
A couple of the cells have been set up to illustrate the living arrangements, one of the prisoners and then another of the internees.
If you want a spectacular view of the area and of Trial Bay Beach then venture to the top of the watch tower that overlooks the ocean. The tower has had stairs mounted that you can climb to reach the top. The view is fantastic and no wonder many of the prisoners attempted to escape.
The Trial Bay beach below has fine golden sand and the waves are usually small to medium, but this can vary depending on the weather.
Also around the outside of the gaol is the Arakoon State Recreation Area Camping Ground. This is a state run ground and therefore the fees for staying here are a lot less than a privately owned ground. The facilities are also more basic and consist of a toilet block and basic showers with limited hot water. We noticed that there were quite a number of caravans and tents there.
From journal Kempsey Shire and South