Lieutenant Richard Bowen of the transport ship 'Atlantic' sailed into Jervis Bay in 1791 and named the area Port Jervis after naval officer and, later, admiral of the British fleet, Sir John Jervis under whom Bowen had served. The area was described as having good anchoring ground with a fine depth of water and during his short stay in the area he recorded that he saw two kangaroos and many traces of inhabitants.
European settlement of the district began about 1827. Construction of the Cape St George lighthouse began in 1854, and the elegant structure was completed in 1856. Unfortunately the lighthouse was built in the wrong spot, and it came to be regarded as a navigational hazard, resulting in its partial demolition in the early 1900s. Read about the history of the lighthouse here >>
In the early 1880s, Jacob Ellmoos established what appears to have been the first European settlement, other than the lighthouse, in the Jervis Bay Territory. He selected 120 acres (48 hectares) on the eastern shore of Sussex Inlet, where he and his family set up a fishing enterprise and farm. In 1890 the Ellmoos family opened a guesthouse there, named Christian's Minde in memory of Jacob's brother Christian who had died in 1888. This historic building, although still standing, no longer serves as a guesthouse.
By about 1900 Octavius Beale owned a farm named Bherwerre located on the shore of Lake McKenzie, now within the boundary of Booderee Botanic Gardens. Almost all of the park area became subject to grazing, although only small areas were cleared. Management for grazing included frequent burning to encourage new growth.
From 1954, forestry activities removed about 500 hectares of the best blackbutt forest (Eucalyptus pilularis), some of which was replanted with pines. Most of the pines in the eastern area were destroyed by fire in 1972. The majority of remaining pines have since been removed to allow regeneration of native vegetation.
The Hive was one of only three convict ships lost in Australian waters. It sank in December 1835 with 250 Irish convicts, guards, the ship's crew, women, children and a cargo of coin worth £10,000 on board. Thanks to a rescue effort from the Wreck Bay community all but one of more than 300 passengers managed to survive the wreck.
In 2010 the wreck was placed under the New South Wales Heritage Register. Its importance lies in it being the only known ship wrecked on mainland Australia while carrying convicts.
The Corangamite | October 2009
A nineteenth century gravestone and some unidentified tiles could hold keys to Booderee's maritime past. Long-term Booderee staff member Martin Fortescue found the gravestone near Cave Beach back in the 1970s. Park staff have also found tiles at Wreck Bay from what was believed to be the wreck of the Corangamite, which ran aground in 1886. Many believe the tiles could be much older.
Shipwrecks in the Jervis Bay Area 1805-1928
1805 Sloop 'Nancy' ran aground at Steamers Beach. Survivors took eleven days to walk to Sydney.
1835 Convict ship 'Hive' driven ashore Bherwerre Beach.
1836 Schooner 'Blackbird' wrecked while attempting to salvage stores from 'Hive' at Wreck Bay.
1850 Barque 'Juniper' wrecked (carrying wine to Sydney) at St George Head.
1855 Schooner 'Martha and Elizabeth' wrecked at Point Perpendicular.
1859 The brigantine 'Caroline' wrecked at Point Perpendicular.
1865 P.S. 'Mynora' wrecked at Steamers Beach.
1867 Barque 'Julie Heyn' lost south of Jervis Bay.
1867 Ketch 'Aeolus' loaded with timber, parted her cables and was blown ashore at Hole-in-the-Wall.
1869 Schooner 'Missie' lost at the mouth of Currumbene Creek.
1870 'Maid of Riverton' blown ashore in Jervis Bay
1870 Barque 'Summer Cloud' stranded at Wreck Bay and wrecked. This location now bears her name.
1874 Schooner 'Mary' driven ashore at Wreck Bay by a gale. Mary Bay is named after this vessel.
1874 The brig 'Rose of Australia' ran aground at Wreck Bay.
1876 'S.S. Dandenong' sank off Jervis Bay with great loss of life.
1882 Steam collier 'Plutus' ran aground at Currarong.
1883 The Schooner 'Agnes' foundered off Jervis Bay.
1886 The passenger steamship 'S.S. Corangamite' lost at St Georges Head.
1893 The schooner 'Result' wrecked near Beecroft Head.
1908 Scow 'Hilda' ran aground at Wreck Bay loaded with timber.
1909 The 'Naudura' grounded at Sussex Inlet.
1911 'S.S. Tilba' ran aground on rocks at Wreck Bay.
1915 Schooner'Advance' driven ashore at Wreck Bay.
1915 The coastal steamer 'Wandra' wrecked at Drum and Drumsticks.
1922 The coastal trader 'Mokau' beached for repairs at Wreck Bay and destroyed in rough weather.
1928 The passenger steamship 'S.S. Merimbula' ran aground at Currarong.
To date, no sites of non-Aboriginal cultural significance have been identified in the waters of the park. However, a number of documented wrecks occur close by in NSW waters in the Wreck Bay area. The wreck of the convict ship 'Hive' and associated camp is located on Bherwerre Beach. The 'Hive' is the only convict ship to have been wrecked on mainland Australia, and was located in 1993. A number of other documented wrecks occur in New South Wales waters in the Wreck Bay area (see Booderee's maritime connections).
On 7 November 1911 the Australian Federal Parliament selected the site of Captain's Point, Jervis Bay, for the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC).
The Jervis Bay Territory was surrendered by New South Wales to the Commonwealth in 1915 under the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915, in order that the national seat of government would have access to the sea.
Funding cuts driven by the Great Depression forced the closure of RANC in 1930, which then relocated to HMAS Cerberus in Victoria. The College buildings were leased as hotels and guesthouses, although Navy retained use of the waterfront and some married quarters. From 1944 to 1946 the RAAF 2nd Military Rehabilitation Unit was housed in some of the college buildings.
In 1956, the Federal Government decided to return the College to Jervis Bay, which was achieved on 20 January 1958. On this occasion the establishment was commissioned as HMAS Creswell, being named after Vice Admiral Sir William Creswell, KCMG, KBE, First Naval Member of the Naval Board from 1911 to 1919.
Booderee National Park has a draft Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defence for fire management, which is critical to the continued survival of heath and other vegetation types in the area.
In 1951, the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens were declared as a frost-free annex of the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG).
In 1971, the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve was declared. The Reserve constituted two thirds of the Territory (4470 hectares) and was declared a public park under the ACT Public Parks Ordinance 1928. The ACT Parks and Conservation Service managed the Reserve.
In 1975, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation recommended that the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve be extended to include all areas of the Jervis Bay Territory not then reserved for use by the Department of Defence.
Further extensions of the reserve system occurred in the 1980s. In 1985, Bowen Island was declared a nature reserve under the ACT Nature Conservation Ordinance 1980. Also in 1985, the area of land around the Bay foreshore, which had been Defence land managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, was declared as a nature reserve under the Public Parks Act 1928. Both these areas were included in the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve.
In 1990, responsibility for management of the ANBG, including the Jervis Bay annex, was transferred from the Commonwealth Department responsible for Territories to the Director of National Parks and Wildlife (now the Director of National Parks). In 1991, the ANBG (including the annex) was proclaimed under the Commonwealth National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 (Parks Act) and title vested in the Director.
On 4 March 1992 the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve, additional Commonwealth lands and the waters of Jervis Bay Territory, were proclaimed as the Jervis Bay National Park under the parks Act. The title to the land vested in the Director of National Parks and Wildlife and the Director took over management responsibility from the ACT Parks and Conservation Service shortly after.
With the establishment of the Nature Reserve in 1971, conflict over land rights increased. The Reserve incorporated areas historically used by the Wreck Bay Community. This conflict and the Wreck Bay people's commitment to pursing ownership of their land, came to a head in 1979 with a demonstration on Australia Day at the popular public use area at Summercloud Bay, adjacent to the Wreck Bay village.
In March 1987, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council was granted inalienable freehold title to 403 hectares of land under the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986 (Land Grant Act). The Council was established as a body corporate under the Land Grant Act to hold title to land granted in accordance with the Land Grant Act.
In 1993 and 1994, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council pursued further land grants in the Territory - the area of the park and the Gardens. However, as the areas were vested in the Director, they were not considered 'vacant Crown land' and could not be granted without amendments to the Land Grant Act and the parks Act. The process also required the area to be recognised as 'significant' to the Wreck Bay people and that the grant was 'appropriate'.
The 'significance' of the area and the 'appropriateness' of the grant were determined and negotiations were undertaken between the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council and the Commonwealth for the park and the Gardens to be leased back to the Director of National Parks and Wildlife.
Amendments to the Land Grant Act and the parks Act were passed by Federal Parliament in 1995. Subsequently, title to the Jervis Bay National Park and the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens was conferred on the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, provided these areas were leased back to the Director of National Parks, to be managed as a national park and botanic gardens. A memorandum of lease between the Director of National Parks and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council was signed in December 1995. The lease agreement provides for the park and Gardens to be jointly managed between the Director and the Council, in accordance with the parks Act and a management plan and consistent with decisions of a Board of Management. The Booderee National Park Board of Management was first established in 1996 under the parks Act.
In 1997, in line with provisions of the lease, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council chose Booderee National Park and Booderee Botanic Gardens as the new name for the park and Gardens. 'Booderee' is an Aboriginal word from the Dhurga language meaning 'bay of plenty' or 'plenty of fish'.
With land ownership passing to the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, the Booderee Botanic Gardens' relationship with the Australian National Botanic Gardens altered significantly. In recognition of these changes, through proclamation in May 2000, Booderee Botanic Gardens ceased to be a part of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and were added to the area of the Booderee National Park. For practical management reasons, the Booderee Botanic Gardens have been managed as part of the administration responsible for Booderee National Park since 1995. The amended proclamations did not alter that arrangement although the Gardens are now treated as a separate management zone.
The parks Act was replaced by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) on 16 July 2000. This change did not alter the status of the park, the lease agreement or the management arrangements.
The park now covers an area of 6312 hectares, which includes 875 hectares of marine environment. The Botanic Gardens zone is 80 hectares in area.