Culture and history

Booderee and indigenous tourism
In 2010 the Wreck Bay community made Australian history, taking out an international award in the Virgin Responsible Tourism Awards 2010. Today nearly 80 per cent of Booderee's staff and contractors are local Indigenous people, working in the park and helping visitors connect with their culture.

The people

Booderee is owned and jointly managed by the people of the Wreck Bay community. The community owns another 403 hectares next to the park.


More than 100 prehistoric Aboriginal sites have been recorded on the Bherwerre Peninsula, some probably dating back to the stabilisation of the sea level about 6,000 years ago.

Archaeological evidence at Lake Burrill about 30 kilometres south of Jervis Bay shows occupation dating back 20,000 years. At that time, the coastline would have been about 20 kilometres east of the present coast, and evidence of coastal Aboriginal communities would have been submerged as sea levels rose to the present level.

The beginning of the park

The first European settlement of Jervis Bay started in the early 1880s. At the beginning of the 20th Century Booderee was used for agriculture – farming and forestry. Jervis Bay Territory is unusual, in that it became Commonwealth territory in 1915 so the national government based in Canberra could have access to the sea. A desire to protect Booderee’s unique natural and cultural history didn’t really start until the early 1970s.


In 1951 the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens became a frost-free annex of the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Then in 1971 the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve, made up of two thirds of the Jervis Bay Territory, was declared a public park. In 1975 the nature reserve was extended to include all areas of Jervis Bay Territory not reserved for use by the Department of Defence.

More areas of the region including Bowen Island were added to the park in the 1980s. On March 1992 the park was proclaimed as the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve under Commonwealth law and the Director of National Parks, now known as Parks Australia, took responsibility for it.

In 1995 Jervis Bay National Park and the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens were conferred on the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, to be leased back to the Director of National Parks to be jointly managed as a national park and botanic gardens. In 1997 the council renamed the park Booderee.