Brian Everingham, President, Southern Sydney Branch
If you visit Jervis Bay at any time of the year you will be struck by the white sands and the calm, pacific waters that lap the edges of those stark white beaches. Whether it be along the west facing edges of Beecroft peninsula, the southern fringes near the naval base, the delights of Hyams Beach or the secret nooks within Honeymoon Bay, it’s those white sands that catch the eye.
Jervis Bay was formed around about 15,000 years ago when sea levels rose and flooded a series of creeks and rivers, and those soft white sands are now almost pure washed silicon from the Permian period. The remaining creeks and rivers that run into Jervis Bay are so small that they do not carry enough silt to muddy the waters of the Bay or change the colour of the sands.
The Formation of the Park
The national park was itself formed in 1995 after many years of campaigning by local groups and by the National Parks Association of NSW. It is a tribute to such NPA stalwarts as Alan Catford and Ron Doughton that we have protected what is now in place. We know they both rest easier knowing that their work has led to some major conservation outcomes around the Bay. It is also a tribute to local groups such as the Lake Wollumboola Protection Society who warns that the “lake is recognised as highly sensitive to water pollution due to its complex hydrology and biodiversity”. They also warn us of urban expansion. That is a warning for the entire landscape.
Location and Setting
Located south and east of Nowra, the park is now approximately 5,240 hectares in size and is in several parcels around the Bay. Following the Southern Forest Agreement several parcels of land were added in 2001 and beyond, and those discrete acquisitions can now be thought of as two core bundles. The largest of those bundles occupies the shores along the northern edge of the Bay, east of Callala, through to the Commonwealth lands on Beecroft Peninsula, and to the southern shores of Lake Wollumboola. Beecroft Peninsula is a firing range and is effectively protected as a nature reserve. The waters of Jervis Bay are also protected within the Jervis Bay Marine Park.
The second core cluster of reserves lies to the west and south of Huskisson and includes Woollamia Nature Reserve. On its southern fringe this park abuts the Commonwealth lands within Booderee National Park. These heath lands are home to the endangered Eastern Bristlebird.
It is sad that our original plans for Jervis Bay did not come to fruition. The fragmentation of the park by roads and housing developments has led to many fringe impacts and the threat of bushfires is an all too common experience. It is also sad that the boundary does not extend to mean low water mark except in the special case of Lake Wollumboola. However, while it could have been so much better and while there are still some opportunities to improve the size and to consolidate those parcels, it is good that we have saved what we have.
What to Do
Yes, there are gems. If planning a visit there is no better place to start than by checking out the national park’s own webpage. From it you get excellent advice about access, facilities, and potential picnic locations, places to go kayaking or fishing and, of course, walks. My personal favourite is the Scribbly Gum walk behind Greenfields Beach.
Connection to Place
When you visit Jervis Bay remember that this land and its associated waters is significant to the local Aboriginal peoples whose occupation extends back at least 7,000 years. These are lands of the South Coast (Yuin) Aboriginal people of the Dharawal-Dhurga language group.
And as you enjoy the waters, the beaches and the wildlife, remember those who fought hard to protect this part of the world. Jervis Bay National Park, for all its faults, is a truly special place.
 For more information on the geology of this area go to the Plan of Management page 12. See http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/parkmanagement/JervisBayWoollamiaFinal.htm
You can also read more at https://www.shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au/soe/Region/Subregions/Geologyandsoils/geologyandsoils.htm