Zivil Lager (Internment Camp)

The souvenir booklet Zivil Lager (Internment Camp) World War One Prisoners Of War At Trial Bay Gaol was published by the NSW Migration Heritage Centre in partnership with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment And Climate Change (NSW).


About 7,000 people were interned in Australia during the First World War. All German and Austrian subjects had to report to their nearest police station and many were sent to live in internment camps. Some were naturalised British citizens including second or third generation Australians of German or Austro-Hungarian background. In New South Wales  the main place of internment was Holsworthy Camp. Women and children were interned at Bourke and Molongolo. Men were also interned at Berrima prison and Trial Bay.

The 550 German men at Trial Bay Gaol were under continuous guard and their mail was censored. To fill the day, the men worked to run the Gaol and they fished, swam, played cards and tennis and held over fifty theatrical performances in costume. Trial Bay Gaol even had its own symphony orchestra and newspaper.

Trial Bay Gaol closed in 1918 and the internees were transferred to Holsworthy after it was feared that internees might make contact with passing enemy vessels by radio. After the War, many internees were voluntarily repatriated to Europe, with some later returning to Australia.

For copies of the booklet contact:

Cath Ireland, Macleay Area Ranger, Trial Bay Gaol,
Arakoon State Conservation Area, Cardwell Street, Arakoon NSW 2431

Tel: 02 6566 6621

Email: cath.ireland@npws.nsw.gov.au