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Cultural heritage

Aboriginal heritage

Aboriginal people have strong ties to the land and sea in the marine park's coastal areas. The marine park works closely with Aboriginal people whose traditional role – as custodians of the land, sea and marine resources – is to ensure the environment is preserved for future generations.

Middens can be found in areas around the marine park where Aboriginal people once gathered to collect seasonal food. These charcoal, bone and shell artefact deposits and stone debris have built up in the sandy soil over thousands of years. They can also be connected to ceremonial and social gatherings.

The difference in materials found between the lower and the upper layers of a midden show changes in food and tool technologies over thousands of years.

  • One of the earliest coastal middens in Jervis Bay at Wreck Bay is known to have been in use up to 1200 years ago. It contained mussels and very little else.
  • The most recent middens found in Jervis Bay contain a variety of shellfish including mussels, turban snails, cockles and pipis, and a range of bone and shell tools,.

Around 27 midden sites have been recorded on the Beecroft Peninsula and 23 on the Bherwerre Peninsula. It is difficult to tell where a midden begins and ends.  However one at Green Point has been found to be over 250 m long.

Rock overhangs sheltered local Aboriginal people for thousands of years, and more than a dozen have been identified along the Beecroft Peninsula.

  • These are located in gullies that offer protection and access to fresh water, firewood and land- and marine-based foods such as possums, kangaroos, birds, fish, shellfish and crabs.
  • Aboriginal people used the rock shelters to cook food and to make and repair fishing and hunting equipment. Remains include shell fish hooks, stone flake cutting tools and wallaby bone piercing tools.

Marine park staff conduct field trips and other activities with Aboriginal elders and community members to facilitate cultural exchange and community capacity building.

See the Aboriginal engagement and cultural use of fisheries resources policy for more information.

Maritime heritage

Nine shipwrecks have been found in the park and another twenty three are believed to be located in the park area.

  • The number of wrecks in the Jervis Bay area is partly due to the amount of vessels servicing the local timber industry. Huskisson also once had a major shipbuilding centre.
  • Many of the wrecks are deemed historically, technically, scientifically or archaeologically significant.
  • Perhaps the most significant wreck is the Hive – the only convict transport ship to be wrecked on mainland Australia. It was carrying 250 Irish convicts.  Aboriginal people helped survivors make contact with the area's European residents. The remains of the survivors' campsite can be found among the sand dunes today.
  • The park's most accessible shipwreck is the Merimbula, the bow of which can be seen on the rock platform at Whale Point, Currarong. Further wreckage has been found on the reef off Whale Point in 13 m of water.
  • The Merimbula ran aground in March 1928 during heavy rain and appears to have struck the reef at full speed. Its passengers and crew survived and took refuge in a fishermen's hut at the mouth of Currarong Creek.
  • The wreck of a Fairey Firefly aircraft is in the park. The plane crashed into Hare Bay during navigational training on 27 November 1956 and its wreck sits in about 12 m of water.

The park's coastline has two lighthouses – Point Perpendicular and Cape St George.

  • The Cape St George Lighthouse was built in 1859 but vessels travelling down the coast could not see its light. It was replaced by the Point Perpendicular lighthouse in 1889.