Wreck Bay Timeline


Always  –  Since time, Koori people have always used Bherwerre because of its rich diversity. It has always been a place of great significance to our people because of its unique location and its abundance of foods and medicines. It has provided us with an area where we can continue to pass on our traditional knowledge.


1800s  –  Early Europeans are given estates on the South Coast of New South Wales which started the dispossession of land from the local Aboriginal people.


1830–1840  –  Local Aboriginal people listed in the record for distribution of blankets and rations.


1880s  –  Aboriginal reserves established on the South Coast due to the dispossession of traditional lands.


1909  –  First manager appointed.


1912  –  Naval College established at Jervis Bay.


1915  –  Commonwealth acquires the Bherwerre Peninsula, which becomes a part of the Australian Capital Territory. Efforts were made at that stage to relocate the Aboriginal Community at Wreck Bay.


1924  –  First school built at Wreck Bay.


1925  –  Aboriginal Protection Board of New South Wales accepts the Commonwealth offer to administer the Wreck Bay ‘reserve’ under the provision of the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Act.


1929–1949  –  Fish Protection Ordinance 1929–1949 has a provision that excludes Aboriginal residents of the Territory from paying fishing license fees. Aboriginal initiative to establish a fishing industry in the region.


1930s  –  First houses built on the reserve.


1940  –  Aboriginal Protection Act 1940 reflects shift from protectionism to assimilation policies in New South Wales. Aboriginal people issued with ‘dog tags’. Cultural expression continued to be outlawed to fit in with the assimilation policy of the day.


1952  –  The boundary of the Wreck Bay Reserve marked out by Bob Brown, Archie Moore and Reg McLeod.


1954  –  Wreck Bay Reserve is gazetted under the provisions of the Aborigines Welfare Ordinance Australian Capital Territory. Provision of the Aborigines Protection Act of New South Wales no longer applies.


1965  –  Aborigines Welfare Ordinance Australian Capital Territory is repealed, thus effecting the transfer of the ‘reserve’; from the Aborigines Welfare Board to the Commonwealth Department of Interior. At the same time, the reserve was abolished and declared an ‘open village’. Assimilation policy of the day brought about attempts to house non-Aboriginals at Wreck Bay, which the Community opposed.
Efforts were made to relocate the Community once again. Wreck Bay School was moved to Jervis Bay.


1965–1966  –  Wreck Bay Progress association formed to counter the open village status and to secure land tenure, thus securing the community’s future.


1971  –  Proclamation under the Public Park Ordinance (Australian Capital Territory) of the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve over the majority of the Territory including the non residential land of the reserve.


1973–1974  –  The Wreck Bay Housing Company and the Wreck Bay Women’s Committee formed. Land Rights issues were the main issues for discussion between the Community and the Government.


1979  –  Blockade of the Summercloud Bay Road, which prevents the general public of access to the Summercloud Bay day visitor area. This action was taken as a result of the land ownership issue.


1985  –  Announcement by the Prime Minister of plans to transfer the Fleet Base and Armaments depot to Jervis Bay. The Wreck Bay people opposed this decision because of the impact to the Cultural and Natural environment of the region. The land rights movement accelerates.


1986  –  The Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986 enacted.


1987  –  The Wreck Bay Community secure land tenure of 403 hectares of land via the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986 and the
Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council is established.


1991  –  Public announcement of the Jervis Bay National Park is made.


1992  –  The Jervis Bay National Park is declared replacing the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve. The Wreck Bay Community is offered 2 positions on a Board of Management of the newly declared Park. The offer is rejected.


1993  –  Commonwealth announces that the armaments depot will be built in Victoria. The Native Title Act 1993 is enacted.


1994  –  The Commonwealth Ministers for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs and the Environment announce intention of a land grant of the Jervis Bay National Park to the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community. Amendments to the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986 and the Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service Act 1975 amended to facilitate land grant.


1995  –  Amendments passed in both houses of Parliament and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council is granted freehold title to Jervis Bay National Park. Park leased back to the Director of National Parks.


1996  –  The Jervis Bay National Park Board of Management is established which has a majority of Wreck Bay Community representatives on the Board. For the first time the Wreck Bay people have a real say on how traditional lands are managed.


1997  –  The Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council lodges a land claim for the remaining areas in the Jervis Bay Territory, which is not Aboriginal Land.


1998  –  To reflect Aboriginal ownership the Jervis Bay National Park is changed to Booderee National Park.


1999  –  Wreck Bay Enterprises Limited is established.


2000  –  Interdepartmental Committee is established to look at a number of issues in Jervis Bay Territory including the Wreck Bay land claim.


2002  –  WBACC renegotiate Lease of Booderee National Park with Director of National Parks WBACC commences financial support for trainee in Booderee National Park Management Plan for Booderee National Park finalised.


2003  –  March: WBACC and Wreck Bay Enterprises Limited register Certified Agreement, Wreck Bay Health Clinic commences operation in new building, Amendments to legislation (Aboriginal Land Grant Act) for quorum of community meeting, Park Board membership increased from 10 to 12 with the wreck Bay Community providing 7 of the 12 Board Members.
November: Changes to the Aboriginal Land
Grant passed in Parliament. December: Bushfires cause major damage to Booderee National Park.


2004  –  March: Work on new subdivision in Wreck Bay Village commences.
March: WBACC signs contract with Government to become Centrelink Agent and Access point.


2005  –  Work commenced on seven new houses that are funded through the National Aboriginal Health Strategy program.
May: WBACC signs Shared Responsibility Agreement (Housing) with the Queanbeyan ICC.



January: Review commenced on Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council Strategic Plan.

June: Five of the seven families move in to new houses.



January: Minister seeks review of the Aboriginal Land Grant (JBT) Act 1986.

June: Review of the Aboriginal Land Grant (JBT) Act 1986 completed and report provided to the Office of Indigenous Policy Co-ordination.

December: Change of Government, new Minister is appointed.



February: Board approves Rent/Lease document and tenants commence signing leases.

June: Funding is approved by the Government to build a new Childcare Centre in Wreck Bay Village.



Work commenced on the new Gudjahgahmiamia Childcare Centre.



New Gudjahgahmiamia early education (Day-Care) building completed and officially opened. Minister appoints Special Advisor to report of issues highlighted by the Community during a meeting held with the Minister during October.
Work commences to establish a new portfolio based structure within the Community that combines the Councils operations with the Wreck Bay Enterprise Ltd structure.