Along with Uluru and Kakadu National Parks, Booderee is one of three operated by Environment Australia (the Commonwealth National Parks Service). It occupies the majority of Jervis Bay Territory.
Jervis Bay Territory has escaped the coastal development which has changed much of the east coast of Australia and the environment remains largely as it was prior to the arrival of European people over 200 years ago. This is despite proposals over the years to use it for a seaport, naval fleet base, and even a nuclear reactor.
Booderee National Park is a place of great history and contrast. Towering sandstone coastal cliffs guard rainforests and eucalypt forests from the awesome might of the ocean. Tranquil waterways are a short walk through coastal heath from surfing beaches.
Booderee National Park offers the opportunity for many recreational activities in a magnificent unspoiled setting.
The area of Jervis Bay was entered onto the Register of the National Estate in 1993 in recognition of its outstanding landscape features, its diversity of flora, fauna, archaeological sites and its value to past and present communities for recreational activities. The park contains many species that are at the limits of their bio-geographical range. The habitats protect a high concentration of rare and threatened plants and animal species. The park supports a population of endangered Bristle Birds and also the threatened Green and Golden Bell Frog. It protects a significantly large area of species-rich heath, a diversity of wetlands and extensive saltmarshes as well as the largest Posidonia seagrass meadows in New South Wales. The area is also one of the State's most outstanding scenic locations.
The area supports a population of Bottlenose Dolphins and the Bay is registered as type locality for many marine invertebrates and algal habitats. The park protects coastal dune systems and their associated habitats which are otherwise disturbed or potentially threatened in the region. The preservation as a southern representative of the sandstone ecosystems is highly important.
Threatened and Endangered species
Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus)
There are only about 2000 Eastern Bristlebirds left in Australia, 500 of which live in Booderee National Park. They are a medium to small, brown, ground dwelling bird with a long tail which generally remains in a horizontal position. It is secretive and is found in dense woodland or heath. It is usually heard before it is seen and has a number of distinct calls, one of which sounds like "pretty birdie".
Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea)
The Green and Golden Bell Frog is a threatened species with numbers declining dramatically over the past few decades. Booderee National Park supports significant populations which inhabit swamps, lakes and constructed water bodies such as dams. They are green and golden in colour, with gold lines running down their backs from over the eye to the hind leg. They eat insects as well as other frogs, grow to about 10cm in length and have a distinctive call: "craw - craw - crawk".
Little Tern (Sterna Albifrons)
The Little Tern is a small (less than 25cm long), slender, migratory or partly migratory seabird, migrating from eastern Asia. It is pale grey and white, with a black cap and black outer wing-edges and a moderately long, deeply forked tail. During breeding, the bill and legs change from black to yellow, and a black wedge appears from the bill to the eye. It arrives from September to November and breeds in spring and summer with only occasional birds seen in the winter months. It is almost exclusively coastal and nests in small scattered colonies in low dunes or on sandy beaches just above high tide mark near estuary mouths. The nest is a scrape in the sand, which may be lined with shell grit, seaweed or small pebbles. It is often seen feeding in flocks, foraging for small fish, crustaceans, insects, annelids and molluscs by plunging in the shallow water of channels and estuaries, in the surf on beaches, or skipping over the water surface with a swallow-like flight.
Eastern Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis) - critically endangered
The Hooded Plover is a medium-sized, stocky, pale-coloured shorebird with a short bill, large eyes and a rounded head. It is easily identified by its prominent black hood and throat, a white collar, and a contrasting black-tipped red bill, a red eye-ring and short orange legs. They inhabit sandy ocean beaches, especially those that are broad and flat, with a wide wave-wash zone for feeding, much beachcast seaweed, and backed by sparsely vegetated sand-dunes for shelter and nesting. The Hooded Plover diet consists mainly of marine worms, molluscs, crustaceans, insects, water plants and seeds. In eastern Australia, Hooded Plovers usually breed from August to March on sandy ocean beaches strewn with beachcast seaweed, in a narrow strip between the high-water mark and the base of the fore-dunes. The nest is a scrape in the sand near debris, making it vulnerable to predators and beach disturbance.
Cape St. George Lighthouse
European Settlement of the district began about 1827. Construction of the Cape St. George lighthouse began in 1854 and the elegant structure was completed in 1856. Unfortunately the lighthouse was built in the wrong spot, and it came to be regarded as a navigational hazard, resulting in partial demolition in the early 1900s. The ruin of Cape St. George lighthouse is perhaps the most significant European site in the park. The ruin was listed on the National Estate Register in 1981. The listing is in recognition of the ruin's important setting, stonework and as a relic of early European occupation.
Christian's Minde settlement and Cemetery
In the early 1880's, Jacob Ellmoos established what appears to have been the first European settlement, other than the lighthouse, in the Jervis Bay Territory. He selected 120 acres (48 hectares) on the eastern shore of Sussex Inlet, where he and his family set up a fishing enterprise and farm. In 1890 the Ellmoos family opened a guesthouse there, named Christian's Minde in memory of Jacob's brother Christian who had died in 1888. It provided the first tourist accommodation in the area in 1896. The Ellmoos family cemetery is also located nearby.
Hive wreck survivors' camp
Archaeological evidence of a camp used by survivors of the wreck of the convict ship, Hive, is located on Bherwerre beach. The Hive is the only convict ship to have been wrecked on mainland Australia, and was located in 1993. A number of other documented wrecks occur in New South Wales waters in the Wreck Bay area. The Hive was one of only three convict ships lost in Australian waters. It sank in December 1835 - but thanks to a rescue effort from the Wreck Bay community all but one of more than 300 passengers managed to survive the wreck.