History of the Shoalhaven Region

History of the Shoalhaven Region

The Shoalhaven Region is a locality of New South Wales. The region is located approximately 200km south of Sydney on the coastline and has a population of approximately 96,000.
The Shoalhaven encompasses the region from Berry in the north, to as far south as Bateman’s Bay.
The Shoalhaven is a part of the traditional home of the Tharawal people, a homeland which also encompasses the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Wollondilly regions.
The area was first encountered by settlers when George Bass explored the coastline in 1797. He came up with the name ‘Shoalhaven’ after crossing the shoals at the entrance of the river.
The city of Shoalhaven was declared in 1948 following the merger of several former municipalities of the region.

Some History… three townships of the Shoalhaven

  •  Berry. The township of Berry was founded by Alexander Berry and Edward Wollstonecraft in 1822. It was originally known as Broughton’s Creek. Over the next forty years, the town grew significantly and saw the construction of tanners, mills and churches, some of which stand today. The township was renamed Berry in 1889, in honour of Alexander Berry and his brother David. Berry also has a historic train station currently in operation on the South Coast Line.
  • Nowra. The region that was to become the town of Nowra was traditionally inhabited by the Wodi Wodi people (whose homeland encompassed much of the northern Shoalhaven). Nowra’s history as a town goes back to 1824 when Mary Riebey, a reformed convict applied for a land grant on the southern side of the Shoalhaven river. The town of Nowra was then established on this granted land in 1852. Some of Nowra’s earliest buildings remain today, and two of these are heritage listed historic homes open to visitors, Bundanon and Meroogal.
  • Jervis Bay. The region of Jervis Bay was occupied by Aboriginal inhabitants for 20,000 years. The area was first sighted by settlers on April 25, 1770, when Captain Cook sailed past on the Endeavour. The name ‘Jervis Bay’ was given by Lieutenant Richard Bowen, naming it after Lieutenant John Jervis, whom he had served under. As of 1915, Jervis Bay has been its own separate territory of the Commonwealth.

The Shoalhaven and wine culture
In recent times, the southern Illawarra and Shoalhaven have developed into a popular destination for wine enthusiasts. The Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival is held every long weekend in June and involves a tour of popular southern Illawarra and Shoalhaven wineries, from Gerringong to Bawley Point. The Jervis Bay Food and Wine Experience is another event those interested may consider.

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