South West Rocks was named after a cluster of large granite boulders that lay about 170 metres East of what was commonly referred to as Laggers Point. Mostly surrounded by shelving rocks and awash in patches at low water they are known locally as the boulders and in early days were a reference point for shipping.
The town was established in 1896 and by 1902 a Pilot Station was operating. The most plausible explanation for the name is that it was advice from the pilot officer. He instructed vessels to anchor in Trial Bay so the rocks would be south-west of their anchorage. The locals decided upon the name for the town in the 1910s.
To this day there is a rich history to be experienced in South West Rocks including Trial Bay Gaol and the Smoky Cape Lighthouse.