South West Rocks Trial Bay Gaol German Monument

South West Rocks, Trial Bay German MonumentSouth West Rocks, Trial Bay German Monumentt - inscription close upSouth West Rocks, Trial Bay German Monument - interpretation plaque 'the HIDDEN COST of WAR'South West Rocks, Trial Bay German Monument - interpretation plaque 'the HIDDEN COST of WAR' 2South West Rocks, Trial Bay German Monument - interpretation plaque 'the HIDDEN COST of WAR' 3

This stone obelisk is located on the Monument Hill Track in the Arakoon National Park at Trial Bay. It is dedicated to all residents of German descent who were interned in the Trial Bay Gaol during the First World War.

The gaol was initially built in the period 1877 to 1886 to house prisoners who were constructing a breakwater to make the bay safer. In 1903 the gaol was abandoned but was re-opened in 1915 to house German wartime internees.

The Germans constructed a monument on the hill above Laggers Point in memory of five detainees who had died. The bodies of three internees were buried at the monument:

  • Conrad Peter (1877-1917)
  • Hernman I.W. Adam (1879-1915)
  • Arno Friedichj (1888-1917). 

There is an interpretation on the western side of the monument titled 'The Hidden Cost of War' with details of three of the internees.

The monument was destroyed in 1919 [German Monument, (1919, July 11). The Urana Independent and Clear Hills Standard, p. 1] and rebuilt in 1959-1960 with funds provided by the German Consulate and assistance from the Macleay Shire Council and Kempsey Rotary Club. A detailed history of the monument has been published here: Aliens at home: World War I Internees at Trial Bay [Zivil Lager (Internment Camp) (viewed 20 June 2018)].



[Inscription in German]


Built 1918, DESTROYED 1919, RESTORED 1960
The original Monument was built by internees in memory of five compatriot Germans held at Trial Basy: another had drowned off Laggers' Point. Two others died in Sydney.

In a wartime climate of paranoia and suspicion, a rumour began that signals were being relayed from this location to a German Raider Ship - the Wolf - reportedly on patrol just north of the Bay. Fearing a rescue mission, military authorities swiftly moved internees to Holsworthy, south-west of Sydney and the camp was closed.

A year later, thousands of Australian diggers returned home wounded or gassed from the war. the Monument was blown up by persons unknown.

"Tonight I read with gratification of the destruction of the German Monument. I have a son buried upon the spur, and two sons absent at war, one an Anzac, both born at Trial Bay, away five years." Thomas Adamson, last Governor of Trial Bay Gaol. 

In 1960, in a gesture of goodwill, the Rotary Club of Kempsey with the local Council, acting as administrator, restored the monument with funding from the German Consul. The monument is now recognised as a German War Grave.

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Monument Hill Track
Arakoon National Park
South West Rocks NSW 2431
Local Government Area
  • Kempsey Shire
  • Garden/park
Location status
Memorial type
  • Obelisk
Recorded by
Graham Wilson OAM
Established Date format: 
$e_original_date = $entity->field_established['und'][0]['value']; if (!empty($e_original_date)) { $changed_date = strtotime($e_original_date); $new_date = date("d F Y", $changed_date); print '
Established date
'; print $new_date; } else{ print ''; }
  • First World War, 1914–18