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WBACC Timeline

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.

Lithograph from the early 1800s
Lithograph from the early 1800s


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.

Early Land Tenure Map
Early Land Tenure Map

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.

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.

WB School in the early 1960's
WB School in the early 1960's

1925 Aboriginal Protection Board of New South Wales accepts the Commonwealth’s offer to administer the Wreck Bay ‘reserve’ under the provisions of the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Act 1909.

First manager appointed.


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.

Bherwerre Dunes
Bherwerre Dunes

1930s First houses built on the reserve

Early photograph of Wreck Bay Village
Early photograph of Wreck Bay Village

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1965 Aborigines Welfare Ordinance (Australian Capital Territory) is repealed, thus effecting the transfer of the ‘reserve’; from the Aborigines Welfare Board to the Commonwealth Department of Interior.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.

Progress Association Meeting
Progress Association Meeting

Wreck Bay Village Shop
Wreck Bay Village Shop

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.

community activism
community activism

Thomas Brown Snr, Percy (Bing) Mumbler, Kevin Ardler Snr, Howard (Ned) Moore and Phillip McLeod
Thomas Brown Snr, Percy (Bing) Mumbler, Kevin Ardler Snr, Howard (Ned) Moore and Phillip McLeod


1979 Blockade of the Summercloud Bay Road, which prevents the general public 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.

Declaration of Aboriginal Land
Declaration of Aboriginal Land

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 two 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

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 has its name 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 re-negotiates lease of Booderee National Park with Director of National Parks.

WBACC commences financial support for trainees in Booderee National Park.

Management Plan for Booderee National Park finalised.

2003 March: WBACC and Wreck Bay Enterprises Limited register Certified Agreement.

Uncle Tom Brown and Uncle Philip McLeod sign with the Director of National Parks
Uncle Tom Brown and Uncle Philip McLeod sign with the Director of National Parks

Wreck Bay Health Clinic commences operation in new building.

Amendments to legislation (Aboriginal Land Grant Act) for quorum for community meeting.

Park Board membership increased from 10 to 12 with the Wreck Bay Community providing 7 of the 12 board members.

December: Bushfires cause major damage to Booderee National Park

November: Changes to the Aboriginal Land Grant Act passed in Parliament.

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

June: Five of the seven families move into the new houses.

2006 January:Review commenced on Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council Strategic Plan.

September: Four members of the Board resign.

2007 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.

2008 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.

2009 Work commenced on the new Gudjahgahmiamia childcare centre.

2010 New Gudjahgahmiamia early education building completed.

Aunty Jean Carter at the Day Care Opening Ceremony
Aunty Jean Carter at the Day Care Opening Ceremony
Aunty Wendy Brown and Uncle Tom Brown at the Day Care Centre Opening
Aunty Wendy Brown and Uncle Tom Brown at the Day Care Centre Opening

2012 Wreck Bay Enterprises Limited ceases to operate as a separate legal entity.

2013 September: Change of Government, new Minister is appointed.

2014 Board commences reviews on Village Town Plan, Strategic Plan, Business / Operations Plan. Council files Petitions (x2) with Parliament. Second Plan of Management for BNP is approved.

2015 Board commences staff re-structure review; together with future SLAs discussions.

2016 Booderee National Park Second Plan of Management operating.

2016 Aboriginal Land Grant ( JBT) By-Laws 2005 repealed. Aboriginal Land Grant ( JBT) By-Laws 2016 commence operating. Aboriginal Land Grant ( JBT) Regulations 2006 repealed. Aboriginal Land Grant ( JBT) Regulations 2016 commence operating. Commencement of ‘Modern’ Award for Council and Contract Services Staff.

2017 Village Community Plan developed.

2018 Defence PFAS Contamination testing proceeds on Park and Council land.

2018 Council appears in High Court of Australia in legal proceedings related to rental housing. Result is unfavourable to Council. Council develops Home Ownership Implementation Strategy in response.

Two further parcels of land, Blocks 151 and 152 in Jervis Bay, are granted.

2019 New Minister appointed

2020 Home Ownership Implementation Strategy approved by Government and first amount of funding of $3 million released.

Caring for Country Rangers Program approved and funded by Government.

WBACC business entity restructure exercise begins

Discussions begin for Legislative changes to the Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986

Draft Cultural Heritage Strategies for the 403, 151, 152 and Booderee National Park developed and ready for consultation.