LOCATION: BOODEREE NATIONAL PARK, JERVIS BAY TERRITORY
When we were looking to visit the Jervis Bay area, our Canberran based friends highly recommended the camping at Booderee National Park, for both it’s natural setting and great facilities. I remember feeling sorry for these poor landlocked Canberran’s with no access to or even a glimpse of the great deep blue in any direction, then as we rolled into Booderee National Park I realize how wrong I was. The Booderee National park is a Commonwealth Territory that is administered by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and was a gift by the then NSW Premier to allow residents of the ACT access to the sea. This means that once you drive over those imaginary state lines you’re out of NSW and in the ACT, technically. And to make your feel like you’re in Canberra, you’re even greeted with a series of roundabouts (obviously all the rage in 1950s ACT city planning) and tolls. Ah tolls, a totally foreign concept to a Perthite such as myself, however the toll counts as the park’s entry fee and are payable on arrival at the toll gate. At only a three hour drive from both Sydney and Canberra, the Booderee makes for a great and affordable base to explore the beautiful white sandy shores of the Jervis Bay area.
Camping in Booderee
Campsites can be booked either online (which will include your entrance fee/toll) or at the Information Centre, and you are to camp in designated areas according to the site you have booked. There are three areas in the park where you can camp which are at Green Patch (where Siu On and I camped at), Cave Beach and Bristol Point. All three camping areas are equipped with good and luxurious facilities (well luxurious to dirtbags like ourselves) that include;
- Flushing toilets;
- showers (HOT showers!);
- BBQs and picnic tables;
- Kitchen facilities (including rubbish and recycling bins);
- fresh water; and
- fireplaces with free wood provided.
Be aware that in the low season, both Cave Beach and Bristol Point camping areas are closed, as well as some parts of the Green Patch camping area, but Siu On and counted no more than four other campers including ourselves over the four days that we were there.
Please do not feed the possums!
Siu On and I saw so many native and wild animals in Booderee, but we were quite shocked at how friendly the possums (in particular) were, and showing no fear of us it was obvious that people had been feeding them, which is not a good thing. So if you are here please don’t feed the animals, as our food can be very harmful to them and once they become dependent on humans it becomes harder for them to survive and pass on their foraging skills to their young. They are wild animals so let’s keep them wild!
There are a number of long and short walks suitable for all ages and levels of fitness which take you through bushes, beaches and over to lookouts around the National Park.
1. Green Path to Bristol Point: An easy 500m short trail that takes you from one beach to another, with both bush and sea views and at low tide you can walk out on the rock pools.
2. Telegraph Creek Nature Trail: Another easy trail at 2.4km (loop) that takes you through the bush and a small wetland area, and is close to the Green Patch campsite.
3. Munyungawaraga Dhugan Trail: This 5.5km trail will take you to both Murray’s Beach and to the Governor Head lookout over the cliffs, then back along a loop which follows a fire trail to the main car park. You’ll see lots of nice trees and hear the sound of birds everywhere, we even saw eagles up ahead.
4. Circuit Trail: The longest trail in the park at 11.4km return, it also follows the fire track and splits off along the way to Steamer’s beach, Brooks Lookout, St Georges Head, Kitty’s Point and Beach as well as Whiting Beach. This one is a little more challenging than the others as there are a few steep sections, but the terrain is pretty well kept. Siu On and I managed to fit in half of this trail and saw a lot of nice views and totally deserted beaches. We could also see the Pigeon House Mountain that we had climbed earlier that week in the distance.
This place in the summer time would be absolutely packed as there is a pretty good selection of beaches in the National Park, with my two favourites being Murrays Beach for it’s gorgeous white squeaky sand, and Cave Beach for it’s shallow waters and long stretch of sand. We found Steamers Beach not so great as the descent to the beach is steep, and some of the steps were broken which made it a little harder to navigate. Steamers also had a large swell and we could see some rips, so maybe not a great one for people who are not confident with their swimming.
The beaches at Green Point, Bristol Point and Scottish Rocks were nice but as they are the easiest to access they are also the busiest. Whereas Bherwerre Beach (which is the longest stretch of sand in the Booderee) was deserted but had a lot of trash washed up on shore, which was a real shame; but we did see whales and people fishing and surfing here. Also, if you are planning on doing any fishing in the area, it’s best to refer to their Marine Park guide to ensure you are in the right areas and avoid being fined.
Other Booderee Sights
We also checked out the Cape St George Lighthouse ruins, which is closed off to the public but you can read a little about it’s sad history there; and there is a Botanic Garden, however we decided against visiting this as being winter, there wouldn’t be too much in the way of flowering plants (except Wattles, but they’re everywhere in the park). Another great reason to visit Booderee is for its close proximity to other towns in the Jervis Bay area, and it can be a much cheaper alternative to staying in these towns, which Siu On and I found to be very unfriendly to our van life budget.
Also, be mindful that there is no public access to the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community as well as the Jervis Bay Range Facility. Parts of the Booderee are used by the Australian Defence Forces for training, and we saw a lot of parachuters and military planes doing maneuvers in the sky over this area (which was pretty cool). Additionally, you can see all the way to Point Perpendicular clearly from across the waters, and this area is also used for military purposes during the week.
Are you curious about Canberra and what the Australian Capital Territory has to offer a visitor? Read about my time spent in the nation’s capital city and plan your next trip there!
All photographs by Jelena Stipanicev.