Wreck Bay Village is an Aboriginal Village located in Jervis Bay Territory, a 3-hour drive (200 km) south of Sydney, NSW. Here’s all you need to know about Wreck Bay and its surrounds.
Wreck Bay Village
Wreck Bay Village is one of only two villages in Jervis Bay Territory (the other being Jervis Bay Village).
The Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Lands are 403 hectares and as such are also sometimes known as the ‘403 Lands’.
Wreck Bay Village is surrounded by bushland and beaches, with the beautiful nearby Summercloud Bay being a nice place where you can visit.
There is a boat ramp and picnic area at Summercloud Bay and it is a popular place to go fishing and surfing.
You can also walk to nearby Whiting Beach from Summercloud Bay as Whiting Beach cannot be accessed by car.
Why Is It Called Wreck Bay?
Wreck Bay is named so because it is easy for a ship to get destroyed and become shipwrecked here due to the high waves.
What Is The Population Of Wreck Bay Village?
Wreck Bay is quite a small Aboriginal Community with around 300 members. There are a number of family groups here who have all lived here for generations.
Wreck Bay Village is a small village with just a few streets and approximately 48 houses. In addition, there is a medical centre, an early learning centre, a function centre and community hall, a fire shed, playing fields and a cemetery.
Can You Visit Wreck Bay Village?
Whilst you are free to explore the area around Wreck Bay in Jervis Bay Territory, the Aboriginal Community of Wreck Bay Village itself is seen as a private area for Community members and their guests.
Therefore you shouldn’t really visit the village of Wreck Bay unless invited by one of the locals. There are signs at the entrance to the village saying access is for residents only.
What Aboriginal Land Is Wreck Bay? (Who Are The Traditional Owners Of The Land)
The Traditional Owners of Booderee (the Aboriginal word for Jervis Bay) where Wreck Bay Village lies, are the Koori people. The Koorie People are Aboriginal people who originate from Southern NSW or Victoria.
It is important to acknowledge the Koori people are the Traditional Owners of the land, the First Nations Australians.
The Aboriginal people have strong cultural ties to this area. Plus the closeness to the sea for fishing and the bush for other food sources, as well as being separate from European settlements made this an ideal place for the Koorie people and has enabled them to keep their cultural traditions and practices alive.
Is Wreck Bay / Jervis Bay Territory Part Of The ACT?
A lot of confusion lies around Jervis Bay Territory. Whilst a quick glance at the map will make it look like it is located in NSW, Jervis Bay is actually its own Territory.
Jervis Bay Territory (JBT) is unique however as it is a non self governing Territory, unlike the other Territories in Australia (NT and ACT).
JBT is actually administered by the ACT – if you see a police officer here they will be AFP, plus people living in Jervis Bay Territory have cars with ACT plates. Interesting!
In 1915 Jervis Bay Territory was made Commonwealth land and became a federal territory so that the Government, based in the capital of Australia – Canberra, ACT would have their own port and access to the sea.
It made sense for Jervis Bay Territory to be chosen for the federal territory as it was the closest body of water to Australia’s capital Canberra. Therefore NSW handed over the Jervis Bay Peninsula to the ACT.
In 1995 the 403 hectares of land was handed back to the Aboriginal Traditional Owners (the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community) by the Australian Government.
Jervis Bay National Park then became known as Booderee National Park (Booderee means ‘Bay Of Plenty’ in the Aboriginal Dhurga language of the region).
By calling the National Park by it’s Aborginial name, a significant step is being taken towards creating awareness of the Aboriginal culture and history and the links that the Aboriginal people have with the land.
The Wreck Bay Community in particular is unique as it’s the only Aboriginal Community that is located in a Territory that is non-self governing. The residents here have no local or state representation.
Can You Enter Jervis Bay Territory?
Yes you can enter Jervis Bay Territory – it costs $13 to enter. You will need to pay the National Park entry fee at the car entrance booth, which marks the entrance to Jervis Bay Territory.
Note that Jervis Bay and Jervis Bay Territory are two different geographical areas, with Jervis Bay encompassing Jervis Bay Territory, but not the other way around.
What Is The Difference Between Jervis Bay and Jervis Bay Territory (JBT)?
Jervis Bay generally refers to the whole geographical bay area, from the northern headland of Jervis Bay – known as Beecroft Peninsula, to Callala Bay, Huskisson and Hyams Beach and also including the Bherwerre Peninsula (the southern peninsula of Jervis Bay) which is Jervis Bay Territory.
But Jervis Bay Territory only covers the southern boundary of the area of Jervis Bay (confusing I know!).
When people think of Hyams Beach, Huskisson, Callala Bay, Beecroft Peninsula and the likes they are thinking of the whole Jervis Bay area.
Only the area south of Hyams Beach (the southern peninsula of Jervis Bay) is Jervis Bay Territory.
Most of Jervis Bay Territory is Booderee National Park – which the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council own and manage.
Booderee National Park is only one of three parks in Australia that is owned and managed by the Traditional Owners of the land.
Booderee National Park is absolutely stunning and home to some spectacular beaches with incredible white sandy beaches.
Places To Visit Near Wreck Bay Village In Jervis Bay Territory:
So whilst it’s not advised to visit Wreck Bay Village there are plenty nearby places in Jervis Bay Territory that you can explore:
If you are keen to see wild kangaroos in their natural environment and enjoy an amazing beach with a cave and shallow waters then a visit to nearby Cave Beach is a must. Cave Beach is easily signposted and is easy to get to on Cave Beach Road.
It does involve a walk of about a kilometre from the car park to the beach though – which should take around 15 minutes.
As you are walking from the car park to the beach you’ll see several kangaroos on your right-hand side on a grassy area near the campground (yes you can camp overnight here if you wish, but bookings must be made prior).
These kangaroos are used to seeing people and are generally often around, but always remember they are wild animals so be attentive. Remember to not get close to a mother and her baby.
Booderee Botanic Gardens
Booderee Botanic Gardens are a must-visit and are the only Botanic Gardens in Australia that are Aboriginal owned! You’ll see the entrance for them as you drive down Cave Beach Road to get to Cave Beach.
Booderee Botanic Gardens are open from 8 am until 5 pm daily (4 pm in winter) including Sundays and public holidays and are free to visit.
There are several lovely walking trails through the Botanic Gardens that provide you with lots of useful information. If you stroll around Lake Mackenzie you might be able to see the eastern long-necked turtle!
Explore the Eucalyptus Lawn, the Rainforest Gully, Waratah Lawn and more. You can also learn about the Aboriginal use of plants for medicinal purposes here as well as bush tucker food. The Aboriginal people have a wealth of knowledge on this.
Probably the most famous beach and the jewel of Jervis Bay Territory is Murrays Beach, located on the northern end of JBT.
The sand here is a spectauclar shade of white and the water is incredibly calm, which makes it ideal for paddle boarding or kayaking.
Note that phone signal here, as in much of the Booderee National Park is hit and miss.
Jervis Bay Village
Jervis Bay Village is located just 4 miles from Wreck Bay Village. This is a mixed area of Aboriginal people and white Australians. There isn’t too much to see here but there is a supermarket if you need to buy any snacks or drinks.
Places To Visit In Jervis Bay, but not in JBT:
The village of Huskisson has plenty of restaurants and boutique shops, plus you can do dolphin tours year round and whale-watching tours during the winter.
Explore the beautiful beaches of Shark Net Beach, Huskisson Beach, Moona Moona Creek and Collingwood Beach.
Home to supposedly the ‘whitest sand in the world’, Hyams Beach is stunning and absolutely can;t be missed when in the Jervis Bay area!
Overlooking St George’s Basin, this makes a great sunset spot. There is a nice relaxed vibe and there are also pedalo boats you can rent.