Wednesday 12 November 2014


While it’s no secret that the long stretch of road between Sydney and Brisbane has some spectacular beaches, not all of them are as well known (or traversed) as others. That’s a big part of the appeal of South West Rocks for architect and designer Marika Jarv and her family, which includes husband Matt and daughters Avie (four) and Jaia (one). South West Rocks is a place of exceptional natural beauty, and caters to the needs of all her tribe. Husband Matt enjoys the surf beaches, and their children have access to safe waters too. Plus, there are plenty of other places to explore, as Marika discovered on this five-day getaway.

Why did you choose this destination? We are very much a beach-loving family, and South West Rocks has the option of lots of spectacular beaches nearby, all a little different from one another. Matt would get up at dawn and head to the quiet Gap Beach for an early surf. The beach below Trial Bay Gaol is prefect for littlies, as the bay is protected by a rocky outcrop, so the waters are calm, clear, shallow and super safe. This area really reminds me of The Pass at Byron Bay - but without all the surfers. Matt’s dad takes his boat out on the Macleay River fishing in the mangroves, whilst his mum liked walking from our accommodation in town to Horseshoe Bay for a swim. My favourite beach was Little Bay, for its breathtaking landscape and seclusion - you enter via a small sandy cove nestled between granite cliffs and pandanas, there seems to be an almost mystical quality to the area - well I think so! The Smoky Beaches are still on our to-do list - waiting for the girls to be a bit older, they’re only accessible via an 800m walking track, starting at the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, and passing through she-oaks and rainforest.

What were some of the highlights? Avie being taught how to surf by Matt - let’s just say she got some “real” surfer’s tips! Visiting the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol. Being greeted on arrival by friendly eastern grey kangaroos at the picnic area at Little Bay. We also saw two big males having a classic boxing kangaroo match. Walking over the old wooden footbridge at Back Creek. The view from the lookout at Smoky Bay Lighthouse. A serene afternoon swim at Little Bay - we had the beach all to ourselves.

What tips would you give to other parents going there? If you are willing to go off-the-beaten-track, then there are some truly jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches to be found. It’s also likely you’ll be the only ones there - if going in off-season, but be warned there are no facilities or patrols on these remote beaches, so take supplies and be careful in the water.

Can you recommend any places to eat or stay in that area? We rented a house in town, but if I was ever going to camp it would be at the Trial Bay Gaol Campground - the location and views out over the bay are amazing.

Any other trips on the horizon? Yes! Our beloved Byron Bay next February. Each year we rent out a particular cottage at The Pass, where our backyard is literally the beach. We’ve been doing this for five years now, ever since I was pregnant with Avie, and every trip we invite a different set of friends. It’s such an easy holiday with the beach so close. A typical day starts with the boys heading out for an early surf, then we wander down the backyard onto the beach with the kids, after a couple of hours we meander back to the house for lunch on the deck, and afterwards when the kids are napping, us mummies get some time-out sunbaking and reading with no little sandy footprints on our towels. Pure bliss. 

images courtesy of marika jarv

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