Bass Point Reserve | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Bass Point Reserve

Item details

Name of item: Bass Point Reserve
Other name/s: Long Point
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Aboriginal
Category: Place of significance
Location: Lat: -34.5959090081 Long: 150.8957031630
Primary address: Boollwarroo Parade, Shell Cove, NSW 2529
Parish: Terragong
County: Camden
Local govt. area: Shellharbour
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT3 DP248002

Boundary:

Curtilage extends 1/2 nautical mile (approx. 1km) into ocean to capture shipwreck sites, associated maritime evidence and significant natural marine habitats.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Boollwarroo ParadeShell CoveShellharbourTerragongCamdenPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Deparment of the EnvironmentFederal Government 
Shellharbour City CouncilLocal Government22 Aug 12

Statement of significance:

Bass Point Reserve is of state heritage significance for both its Aboriginal and European values; its pre- and post-contact history; and its natural and maritime heritage.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Aboriginal people have occupied the Illawarra region and Bass Point Reserve for some 20,000 years prior to the arrival of European settlers. The traditional custodians of the land, the Elouera people lived in a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, governed by the sustainable use of the environment and the resources available. Bass Point was a place of established occupation for the Aboriginal people and is regarded as a traditionally important camping and meeting place.

Bass Point has been the focus of attention from archaeologists since the late 1960s as an area that has potential to reveal significant information about pre-contact history in NSW. Twelve midden sites and one camping/meeting place have been identified and archaeological excavations have revealed the environmental change and evolution of the area over time and the development of techniques used by the Aboriginal people to hunt and gather available resources.

Alongside Burrill Lake rock shelter (which is of similar antiquity), Bass Point is considered to be one of the most significant Aboriginal archaeological sites to be excavated in NSW. It is considered to be a rare example of established occupation and continues to be of exceptionally high significance to the Aboriginal people of NSW.

Upon the arrival of European settlers to the Illawarra region in 1803, the land of Bass Point was granted to D'Arcy Wentworth, a wealthy colonial official and the Principal Surgeon and Principal Superintendent of Police. A significant colonial figure, Wentworth developed a substantial estate (of some 13,050 acres - including Bass Point) from 1821-1865 and was influential in the development of the Shellharbour area.

Bass Point also had a significant but brief association with Captain James Cook who first made note of the region and its Aboriginal occupants as the Endeavour sailed by the coastline in April 1770.

Bass Point has another brief association with the colonial explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders who made the first recorded European visit to the region in 1796. The contemporary naming of Bass Point commemorates these early explorations.

Bass Point Reserve has significant natural features and habitats that contribute to its aesthetic value. A prominent headland in the region, Bass Point contains elements of bush, beach and ocean that create a visually spectacular environment of both land and sea.

This key coastal landscape is also regarded as highly significant for its biodiversity and pristine condition. The relatively undisturbed environment supports a variety of common, rare and endangered fauna and flora species - including littoral rainforest and habitats for the endangered grey nurse shark and sea grasses.

The maritime landscape around Bass Point Reserve also contains a number of shipwrecks and archaeological evidence, dating from 1879. The most significant and well known, the Cities Service Boston, was wrecked in May 1943 and a memorial was erected at Boston Point to commemorate the Australian lives lost in the rescue.
Date significance updated: 28 Mar 12
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Physical description: Located 25km south of Wollongong, Bass Point Reserve is a 4km-long natural promontory of rocky shorelines and sandy embayments that supports a diverse collection of natural and cultural elements.

As a cultural landscape, Bass Point Reserve includes sites of Aboriginal archaeological significance and others of European historical significance. Fourteen sites associated with the sustained Aboriginal occupation of the land have been identified - 13 of which are coastal shell middens and one meeting and camping place. Sites of European occupation include potential remnants of the original jetty (to the west of the existing jetty) and, on Boston Point, a memorial to the 1943 shipwreck of the Cities Service Boston and the four lives lost during the rescue operation.

In the waters surrounding Bass Point Reserve, six shipwrecks have been identified and the associated artefact scatter recorded. These wrecks include Bertha (1879), Our Own (1880), Alexander Berry (1901), Comboyne (1920), Kiltobranks (1924) and the Cities Service Boston (1943).

The Bass Point Marine Area surrounding the reserve is regarded as highly significant for its biodiversity and pristine condition. This relatively undisturbed environment supports a variety of common, rare and endangered fauna and flora species. The shallow and sheltered waters have seen the development of a significant but fragile Sea Grass Habitat that provides a suitable environment for many aquatic animals to shelter, feed and breed.

To the eastern point of Bass Point Reserve is Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve. Made up of beaches, intertidal rock pools, seagrasses and submarine cliffs the reserve provides important habitats for a variety of animals including fish, anemones, sponges, crabs, molluscs and urchins.

Bass Point Reserve also supports diverse headland vegetation and significant littoral rainforest - making it one of the most important and unique natural landscapes in southern NSW. Littoral rainforest is generally a closed forest with its structure and composition strongly influenced by its close proximity to the marine environment. Positioned on coastal headlands or beach sand dunes, littoral rainforest is considered an Endangered Ecological Community in NSW. The natural vegetation of Bass Point Reserve supports a variety of flora and fauna, both common and rare to the region.

Today, the spectacular visual interplay of the bush vegetation, beaches, headlands, cliffs, ocean and sky makes Bass Point Reserve a scenic location for recreation visitors.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The natural environment of Bass Point Reserve has undergone periods of regeneration by Shellharbour Council's rangers and is in good condition. The on-going maintenance of visitor areas has also ensured the good condition of facilities.

Since the Bass Point Marine Area was identified, and specific areas classified as critical habitats and aquatic reserves, the marine environment surrounding Bass Point Reserve has remained in pristine condition.

Although Bass Point Reserve has been subject to earlier archaeological investigations (in 1969/70 by Dr Sandra Bowdler and again in 1974 by Hughes & Sullivan), there is great potential for further archaeological discoveries - both terrestrial and maritime.

Through Dr Bowdler's investigation, she concluded that there is potential that the individual shell midden sites on the northern shoreline could represent one single continuous midden site. It is also highly probable that there may be unrecorded Aboriginal artefact scatters and burial sites on the reserve (either individually or in association with midden sites).

In regard to shipwrecks, the location of the Bertha remains undiscovered and it is also possible that there are further shipwrecks that have gone unrecorded in present documentation.
Modifications and dates: Pre-European contact - archaeological evidence indicates sustained occupation of Bass Point by Aboriginal people (some 20,000 years)
1803 - grazing and clearing rights secured by free settler, James Badgery, for land (including Bass Point)
1880 - George Laurence Fuller (proprietor and business manager) commences basalt mining on Bass Point
1885 - Fuller builds 480ft jetty for shipping of blue metal from Bass Point quarry to Sydney
c1890 - Fuller improves and extends jetty to 500ft
1939-53 - Bass Point used by Australian Military Forces for various defensive, training and surveillance functions
c1958 - demolition of jetty and constuction of modern replacement (sited directly to the east)
1968 - construction and unveiling of memorial to Cities Service Boston shipwreck and the four lives lost during the rescue operation
1968 - Bass Point given to Shellharbour Council for future use as natural reserve
Post-1968 - minor development (building and maintaining roads; parking sites; amenities; and public facilities)
Current use: Nature conservation and passive recreation
Former use: Aboriginal camping/meeting place, basalt mining, cedar-cutting, pastoral grazing

History

Historical notes: ABORIGINAL OCCUPATION OF ILLAWARRA REGION BEFORE EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT
Archaeological evidence indicates that Aboriginal people occupied the Illawarra region for some 20,000 years prior to the arrival of European settlers. The Elouera people are traditional custodians of the land extending from Stanwell Park in the north, Shoalhaven River in the south, west to Picton and Moss Vale, and east to the ocean. The Elouera people are a group, subdivided from the larger Dharawal group, that occupies the land from Botany Bay to Jervis Bay.

In the Illawarra region, the Elouera were identified as fresh or salt water people due to their occupation of particular marine or estuarine landscapes and their use of the natural resources found in these environments. Essentially, the Elouera people lived a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, governed by the sustainable use of their surrounding environment and the available resources. Traditionally, the division of labour in such a society was determined by gender and age - men hunted by land and sea while women gathered food and resources. The Aboriginal people had developed their understanding of the region and environmental sustainability over thousands of years and there is archaeological evidence to suggest that the people travelled the land making use of seasonal resources when they were abundantly available and allowing those depleted to regenerate with time.

The diet of the Elouera people was varied and flexible - consisting of (among other things) fish, shellfish and seals from the ocean; and wallabies, possums, birds and plants from the land. Evidence of this changing diet has been found through archaeological investigation of the shell middens at both Bass Point and along the NSW coastline.

These shell middens are found in coastal environments throughout Australia - but particularly on the east coast. Those identified at Bass Point have been dated at 6000 years old, from the period when the sea levels stabilised and the coastal environment developed into what it is today. Analysis of the content of these middens has revealed shell and food remains that indicate the hunter/gatherer lifestyle of the traditional Aboriginal people in the Illawarra region. Excavation of shell middens at Bass Point have also revealed the changing tools and technology used by the Elouera people to exploit the available resources around them - in particular, the development and evolution of hunting practices as species of fish and animals changed with the seasons and over the years.

Middens are usually found in close proximity to both fresh water supplies and have often resulted from an established occupation of a place. Evidence at Bass Point indicates the longevity of its use by the Aboriginal people as an important camping and meeting place - a value supported by the oral tradition of the local people. The coastal plain is known to have been an abundant natural environment of food and fresh water resources and, with their in-depth understanding of the marine environment, Bass Point must have been regarded by the Aboriginal people as a resourceful place that could sustain long-term occupation.

FIRST CONTACT WITH EUROPEAN EXPLORERS (1788)
A harmonious and balanced relationship between the Aboriginal people and the environment existed for thousands of years and it was in this form when the Aboriginal people first had contact with European explorers. Although there may have been earlier contact with Portuguese, Spanish, Polynesian or Asian explorers, the first report of Bass Point and the local Aboriginal people comes from Captain James Cook who sailed by the region on the Endeavour in April 1770. Those on board noted in their journals of their observations - "Sunday, 22nd April:....and were so near the shore as to distinguish several people upon the Sea Beach. They appeared to be of a very dark Colour....Thursday, 26th April: Saw several smokes along shore after dark, and 2 or 3 times a fire" (Organ, 'A Documentary History of the Illawarra and South Coast Aborigines', p. 2). The journals from the Endeavour also make note of the "numerous campfires, on the blackness of the natives, and of a luxuriant vegetation and varied landscape" (Organ & Speechley, 'Illawarra Aborigines', p.8). There are historical reports that Cook attempted to make a landing along the Illawarra coastline but abandoned these efforts due to uncertain and dangerous conditions. Had this landing been successful, it would have been the first on Australian soil - predating that at Botany Bay. Although the lives of the Aboriginal people continued relatively undisturbed following this visit, stories soon circulated between the groups about sightings of the 'White Swan' (believed to be a reference to the sails of the Endeavour).

The geographic nature of the Illawarra ensured that the region remained isolated from the early colonial settlement following the First Fleet landing in 1788. The surrounding mountains provided a barrier to the north and west and, with the absence of a natural and accessible harbour, official settlement of the region did not occur until early in the nineteenth century. Stories of the arrival of Europeans surely spread to the region through communication between Aboriginal groups quickly and, as in other parts of Australia, it was first thought by the Aboriginal people that the settlers were their re-born ancestors. Their pale skin but similar features ensured inquisitive but mostly civil early interactions between the settlers and the Elouera people.

EARLY COLONIAL EXPLORATION OF ILLAWARRA REGION (1796)
The first official exploration of the Illawarra region (then known as the 'Five Islands District') was recorded by George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1796. Following a similar exploratory expedition up the Georges River, Bass and Flinders ventured to the Illawarra region to explore and examine the country, take specimens from the environment and to report their findings back to the colony with recommendations for possible future settlements. The local Aboriginal people may have had sporadic interactions with other Europeans after the Bass/Flinders visit (including the shipwreck survivors of the Sydney Cove in 1797 who were making the arduous and largely fatal trek from Cape Howe to Sydney) but little changed as a result of the First Fleet landing until the region was officially settled in 1803 - the effect of this settlement on the local Aboriginal people being felt almost immediately.

The colonial settlement in Sydney experienced a severe drought in 1803 that threatened the agricultural industries (particularly cattle grazing) that supported life in the colony. Finding fresh new pastures was essential to the survival of the industry and reports of the rich untouched land further south at Lake Illawarra soon circulated amongst the colonists. Free grazing rights were issued by the government - and a significant land parcel stretching from Lake Illawarra to the Minnamurra River (and incorporating Bass Point) was granted to free settler, James Badgery, for cattle running.

At this time, Red Cedar-cutting was also an important industry in the colony and there were lucrative supplies discovered in the virgin bush of the Illawarra region.

Both the cattlemen and the cedar-cutters were adventurous and were the first Europeans to traverse the unknown country - successfully doing so by following the traditional trails established by the Aboriginal people. From even this early period of settlement, European exploitation of the land and resources had begun. The easy abuse of land through clearing of vegetation and wildlife would have been an abhorrent disrespect to the Aboriginal people. The traditional lifestyle of the people had been sustained by this land and its immediate exploitation by the European settlers would no doubt have led to future conflicts.

COLONIAL SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRY
In 1816, in an effort to regulate land ownership in an official system, Governor Lachlan Macquarie called for the division of the region (what is now Shellharbour Municipality) into land grants - 22 in total. The free grants were given to prominent colonial citizens and cattlemen - one such grant of 1650 acres, and later an additional 2000 acres (including Bass Point), was granted to D'Arcy Wentworth, a wealthy colonial official and medical practitioner.

Although Wentworth was promised the land grants in 1817, he was not issued with the land until 1821 when he established 'Peterborough Estate'. Following the exit of Badgery, Wentworth was able to run his own cattle while, at the same time, acquiring surrounding grants to expand his land holding. There is a strong presumption that the expansion of Peterborough Estate was organised with the other land-holders from very early on. The land was rich in pasture and possibility but remained largely unsettled and unused by its early owners. By 1827, Wentworth had acquired the largest land holding in the region totalling 13,050 acres - including Bass Point and the private Peterborough township (that is now Shellharbour village).

The repossession and division of the richest lands in the region had a devastating effect on the Elouera people. The prime locations selected for land grants would have been those with easy accessibility to fresh water supplies - the areas most valued by the Aboriginal people for resources and as traditional camping places. Larger numbers of people occupying the land also reduced the capacity for the Aboriginal people to traverse the region as they had traditionally done.

Colonial grazing and farming of the land also had a detrimental and lasting effect on the native food supplies used by the Aboriginal people. Traditional plants had been destroyed by grazing cattle and replaced by introduced plant species.

Additionally, native animal species had been frightened away from their habitats. In no time, the scarcity of traditional resources saw a crisis arise in the lifestyle of the local Aboriginal people - their homeland was being ravaged and their very survival was at risk.

The rapid degradation of the sustainable environment left the traditional Aboriginal people with one option: appropriate the introduced crops and stock to survive. While traditional Aboriginal life had no concept of ownership (but rather a shared use of land and resources), the settlers viewed their actions as theft and crimes punishable by violent retaliation. At this point in relations, the Aboriginal people were struggling to maintain their traditional ways of life while contending with the force of the colonial settlers and it was soon realised that the Elouera people had little to match the sheer number of settlers with their introduced firearms and diseases (smallpox, influenza and tuberculosis).

The colonial government, under Governor Macquarie's direction, had declared unofficial war against the Aboriginal people. A detachment of the 46th Regiment was sent to Red Point (now Hill 60 at Port Kembla) to bring a show of force to the Aboriginal people. "During April of 1816 Macquarie instructed his soldiers to seek out the Aborigines and 'strike them with terror .... drive them to a distance from the settlements of the White Men ... inflict terrible and exemplary punishments' so as the Government would not be seen to show cowardice in the face of perceived Aboriginal aggression" (Organ & Speechley, 'Illawarra Aborigines', p.10). It was the colonial intention that fear be instilled in the local Aboriginal people to reduce retaliation attempts on the settlement.

As a result of this action, the traditional Aboriginal population was quickly decimated. With forced removal to fringe camps, assimilation to European culture and the imposition of strict control measures - coupled with their delegation to the bottom of the social hierarchy - the Aboriginal people had no recourse against the invasion of the settlers throughout the nineteenth century. Governor Macquarie's plans to expand the colonial frontier had been a success and the rich land of the Illawarra region had been cleared of its traditional inhabitants and was free to be exploited by the settlers.

By the 1840s, the colony was experiencing an economic depression and the large landholdings in the region were soon subdivided into smaller tenant farms. Provided rent-free for periods of up to six years, the land was leased to families for the purpose of clearing native vegetation and cultivating crops. Wheat and maize were popular early crops but soon proved to be susceptible to rust and ultimately financially unprofitable for the farmers. By the second half of the nineteenth century however, the dairy industry had been established and was proving to be a successful business for the small landholders in the region.

During this period, 2560 acres of Peterborough Estate (including Bass Point) had been sold by the Wentworth family to George Laurence Fuller who named the property 'Dunmore Estate'. By 1880, Fuller had negotiated a mining venture and established a basalt 'blue gold' quarry to the south of Bass Point including the construction of a new 480-foot jetty to ship the quarried metal. Although the enterprise collapsed within two years, Fuller resumed operations as the proprietor and manager and, by 1890, business was booming. To support the industry, Fuller soon improved and extended the jetty to 500 feet and commissioned the construction of the SS Dunmore to transport the crushed basalt from Bass Point to the markets of Sydney.

SHIPPING TRADE AT BASS POINT (1880 - )
Shipping was the favoured mode of transport of the product but the journey was often a hazardous one with a number of ships lost along the coast and in the waters surrounding Bass Point. The Bertha, an 87-ton wooden schooner, is thought to be one of the earliest wrecks from the basalt trade. It was reported that she was transporting bluestone from Kiama to Sydney and, on 9th September 1879, ran ashore on the north side of Bass Point and broke apart. It was reported in the media at the time that the local Aboriginal people camped at Bass Point had assisted with the rescue of the three crewmen and two passengers on board by conveying a line from the stricken vessel to the shore.

Over the years, other ships experienced a similar fate to that of the Bertha: in 1880, the wooden paddle steamer Our Own was wrecked off the beach at Bass Point with the loss of two lives; the Alexander Berry, a wooden steamer, went down in 1901 with four of the five crewmen perishing in the accident; the Comboyne wrecked in 1920; and the Kiltobranks, another blue metal carrier, in 1924.

One of the more well-known shipwrecks of Bass Point was the loss of the Cities Service Boston on 16th May 1943. The US oil tanker was transporting fuel supplies from the Middle East before running aground during a storm at what is now known as Boston Point. Australian soldiers from the 6th Australian Machine Gun Battalion were camped nearby and assisted in the rescue of the 62 crew on board. All lives from the Boston were saved but four Australian soldiers perished in the rescue. To commemorate the loss, plaques were unveiled at Bass Point in 1968 and a remembrance service is held at the site each year.

Since Dunmore Estate was sold in the 1920s, the land in and around Bass Point was used by the Australian Military Forces for defensive, training and surveillance functions. By c1957, Bass Point was purchased by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and mining of its extensive basalt deposits was renewed. The original jetty had deteriorated beyond the needs of the mining leases and was ultimately demolished in 1958 before being replaced by a new jetty directly east of the original.

CONSERVATION AS A NATURE RESERVE (1960s - )
It was as a result of the increased mining of Bass Point in the 1960s, that its future as a natural reserve was first considered. Local conservationists had formed a society to promote the natural value of Bass Point and to balance the interests of both conservation and development. A reserve was officially declared in 1968 and, furthermore, Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve was declared in 1982.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES AT BASS POINT (1970s - )
Since the historic value of Bass Point has been recognised, there have been archaeological investigations of the area that have revealed significant information about its pre-contact history. Of the 12 shell midden sites identified on Bass Point, Dr Sandra Bowdler investigated six sites in 1970 as the basis for her thesis. Further analysis of the remaining six sites was undertaken by Dr PJ Hughes in 1974.

Middens of the NSW South Coast, including those at Bass Point, contain indicative remains of the food sources of the Aboriginal people. Upon analysis of the middens at Bass Point, Dr Bowdler and Dr Hughes discovered shells and bones of shellfish, fish, wallabies, bandicoots, possums, birds and seals.

It was also considered that the many middens along the northern shoreline may, in fact, represent a single continuous midden site.

These archaeological excavations revealed the environmental change and evolution of Bass Point over time and, further analysis of the midden sites has shown the development of techniques used by the Aboriginal people to hunt and gather available resources. As a result of these archaeological assessments, Bass Point is now considered to be one of the most significant Aboriginal archaeological sites to be excavated in NSW.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Natural landscapes valued by humans-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Conserving and protecting natural features-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Environments important to Aboriginal traditional and spiritual life-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Natural - site important native fauna habitat or food source-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. All nations - places of battle or other early interactions between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. All nations - place of first contact between Aboriginal and European peoples-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Ancillary structures - wells, cisterns-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Exploration-Activities associated with making places previously unknown to a cultural group known to them. Routes taken by George Bass-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Early farming (Cattle grazing)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Bass Point Reserve is of state heritage significance for both its Aboriginal and European values and its pre- and post-contact history.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Aboriginal people occupied Bass Point Reserve for some 20,000 years prior to the arrival of European settlers. The traditional custodians of the land, these people lived in a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, governed by the sustainable use of the environment and the resources available.

Bass Point has been the focus of attention from archaeologists since the late 1960s as an area that has potential to reveal significant information about pre-contact history in NSW. Twelve midden sites and one camping/meeting place have been identified and archaeological excavations have revealed the environmental change and evolution of the area over time and the development of techniques used by the Aboriginal people to hunt and gather available resources.

Alongside Burrill Lake rock shelter (which is of similar antiquity), Bass Point is considered to be one of the most significant Aboriginal archaeological sites to be excavated in NSW.

Official European settlement in the Illawarra region and on Bass Point Reserve, started from 1817 with the division of land and the establishment of agriculture and industry. The development of basalt mining on the point saw the growth of shipping in the region but, due to the hazardous conditions of the new transport route, a number of ships were wrecked off the Bass Point coastline - the Bertha (1879); Our Own (1880); Alexander Berry (1901); Comboyne (1920); Kiltobranks (1924); and the Cities Service Boston (1943).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Bass Point Reserve is of state heritage significance for its association with a number of significant people and groups.

Traditionally, and for some 20,000 years prior to European settlement, the land has been occupied by the Elouera people of the Dharawal group. The longevity of the use of Bass Point as a camping and meeting place indicates its significance to the Aboriginal people of this region. Documentary, archaeological and oral evidence indicate that Bass Point was, and is, considered to be an extremely important place by local Aboriginal people and that "the general 'feeling' about the place was that it was a good and happy place" ('Bass Point Reserve: Draft Plan of Management (Volume 1: Reference Document)', 2000, p43). Although the significance of this site to the Elouera people stretches for thousands of years into the past, its importance to the contemporary Aboriginal community continues today.

Bass Point also had a significant, but brief, association with Captain James Cook and the Endeavour. As the Endeavour sailed by the Illawarra coastline in April 1770, journal notes were made about their observations of the landscape and the traditional Aboriginal occupants. There is evidence to suggest that Cook attempted a landing in the region but abandoned the effort due to dangerous conditions. Had this landing attempt succeeded, it would have been the first on Australian soil - predating that at Botany Bay.

The first recorded European visit to the region was by colonial explorers and naval men, George Bass and Matthew Flinders, in 1796. Exploring the unknown country to observe and report back to the colony, Bass and Flinders were most-likely the first contact the Elouera people had had with European settlers. The contemporary naming of Bass Point commemorates the initial explorations of these significant explorers.

After the Illawarra region had been officially settled, the land was divided into free grants, and Bass Point was granted to D'Arcy Wentworth, a wealthy colonial official and medical practitioner. Wentworth had arrived in Australia as a free settler and Assistant Surgeon on a convict fleet in 1790. By 1811, Governor Lachlan Macquarie had appointed him Principal Surgeon and Principal Superintendent of Police. Also a founding member of the Bank of NSW, Wentworth is a significant colonial figure who developed a substantial estate (of some 13,050 acres, including Bass Point) from 1821-1865.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Bass Point Reserve has significant natural features and habitats that contribute to its aesthetic value. A prominent headland in the region, Bass Point contains important elements of bush, beach and ocean that create a visually spectacular environment of both land and sea. This key coastal landscape has significant aesthetic value and its general visitation numbers reflects the public's ongoing admiration for the natural beauty of this site.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The social significance of Bass Point Reserve remains strong in contemporary Aboriginal culture. There is a wide-spread understanding that the Elouera people (a subdivision of the larger Dharawal group) are the traditional occupants of the land of the Illawarra region. The coastal landscape at Bass Point supported the established camp sites of the Aboriginal people and provided a diverse and sustainable natural source of food and fresh water for some 20,000 years prior to European arrival to Australia. Following white settlement, the Aboriginal people continued to use the Bass Point area as a camp site and meeting place.

The designation of Bass Point Reserve has ensured that the natural value of the site is conserved and is still available for use by the Aboriginal people of the region today. The site is also widely used by visitors as a tourist and recreational resource.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Bass Point Reserve has state heritage significance for its potential to reveal further information through archaeological research. Although it has been subject to earlier archaeological investigations (in 1969/70 by Dr Sandra Bowdler and again in 1974 by Hughes & Sullivan), there is great potential for further archaeological discoveries, both terrestrial and maritime.

Through Dr Bowdler's investigation, it was concluded that there is potential that the individual shell midden sites on the northern shoreline could represent one single and continuous midden. It is also highly probable that there may be unrecorded Aboriginal artefact scatters and burial sites on the reserve (either individually or in association with midden sites).

In regard to shipwrecks, the location of the Bertha remains undiscovered and it is also possible that there are further shipwrecks that have gone unrecorded in present documentation.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Bass Point has been the focus of attention from archaeologists since the late 1960s as an area that has potential to reveal significant information about pre-contact history in NSW.

Twelve midden sites and one camping/meeting place have been identified at Bass Point and archaeological excavations have revealed the environmental change and evolution of the area over time and the development of techniques used by the Aboriginal people to hunt and gather available resources.

Alongside Burrill Lake rock shelter (which is of similar antiquity), Bass Point is considered to be one of the most significant Aboriginal archaeological sites to be excavated in NSW.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Bass Point is representative of prominent headlands in the Illawarra region and contains the coastal vegetation found throughout the area. Bass Point is also representative of places that had established occupation by Aboriginal people due to the plentiful and sustained food resources occurring naturally in the environment.
Integrity/Intactness: Bass Point Reserve is an evolving and naturally changing landscape but its designation as a nature reserve has ensured that the site will remain a natural environment into the future while maintaining its use for recreational purposes.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions
HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)
TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL

Bass Point Reserve

SHR No. 1896

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule “C” by the owner of the land described in Schedule “B” on the item described in Schedule “A”.




The Hon Robyn Parker, MP
Minister for Heritage




Sydney, 24th Day of October 2012




SCHEDULE “A”

The item known as Bass Point Reserve, situated on the land described in Schedule “B”.




SCHEDULE “B”

All those pieces or parcels of land known as Lot 3 DP 248002 in Parish of Terragong, County of Camden and extending ½ nautical mile into the ocean as shown on the plan catalogued HC 2541 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.



SCHEDULE “C”

Works in accordance with the ‘Bass Point Reserve - Plan of Management (draft)’ (Shellharbour City Council, August 2000)
Jan 18 2013
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Jan 19 2013

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0189618 Jan 13 3120

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBenjamin Lindsay A story of early land settlement in Illawarra and other articles on the history of Illawarra from the Illawarra Mercury and the Sydney Morning Herald, 1934-43: Newspaper cuttings
WrittenCaryll Sefton1983Prehistory: The Aboriginal Heritage
WrittenCE Sefton1980Aboriginal Cultural Resources Study: Illawarra Region
WrittenDEC NPWS NSW2005Aboriginal Illawarra (pamphlet)
WrittenDEC NSW2005A History of Aboriginal People of the Illawarra: 1770 to 1970
WrittenDorothy Gillis2009150 years of Shellharbour: History notes of Shellharbour City Area
WrittenDr Sandra Bowdler1985Revealing the Past: Archaeology in Australia
WrittenEdgar Beale1983Discovery and Settlement
WrittenJim Derbyshire & Dianne Allen1984Land Between Two Rivers: A historic and pictorial survey of Shellharbour Municipality
ElectronicKeith Macrae Bowden Bass, George (1771-1803) View detail
WrittenKenneth Charles Wentworth Miles2008A Brief History of Shellharbour, New South Sales and D’Arcy Wentworth’s 'Illawarra Estate'
WrittenManidis Roberts Consultants2000Bass Point Reserve: Draft Plan of Management (Volume 1: Reference Document)
ElectronicMichael K. Organ & Carol Speechley1997Illawarra Aborigines - An Introductory History View detail
WrittenMichael Organ1990A Documentary History of the Illawarra and South Coast Aborigines, 1770-1850: including a Chronological Bibliography, 1770-1900
ElectronicNavin Officer Heritage Consultants Pty Ltd2004Shellharbour Urban Fringe Lands: Cultural Heritage Assessment View detail
WrittenNavin Officer Heritage Consultants Pty Ltd2000Shellharbour City Council Area: Aboriginal Heritage Study
WrittenNSW Heritage Office - Maritime Archaeology Unit2000Shipwrecks - Shellharbour View detail
WrittenShellharbour City Council2011SHR Heritage Inventory: Bass Point Reserve
WrittenShellharbour City Council2010SHR Nomination Form
ElectronicSMH Traveller2009Shellharbour View detail
WrittenSue Wesson2005Murni Dhungang Jirrar: Living in the Illawarra: 1770 to 1970
WrittenTamara Hynd2005Historic and Archaeological Map, Shellharbour City, 1830-1930
ElectronicTongarra Museum Place Names of Shellharbour City View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061535
File number: 12/03599


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