The word Bouddi is the local Aboriginal name for the eastern headland of Maitland Bay and has become synonymous with the national park and the surrounding area. It has various meanings in local Aboriginal languages, and is thought to mean 'a heart' or 'water breaking over rocks'. A number of Aboriginal place names are still in use today including Bombi Point, Gerrin Point, Kourung Gourong Point and Mourawaring Point. The Bouddi Peninsula is a special landscape - around 100 Aboriginal sites have been recorded in the park and nearby areas and many more sites are likely to exist. Sites include rock engravings, grinding grooves, rock shelters with art (drawings and paintings), middens and other archeological deposits. Aboriginal sites provide a valuable insight into Aboriginal traditions, lifestyles and interaction with the environment and are an important part of today's Aboriginal culture.
Engravings Flat, exposed areas of Hawkesbury sandstone provided an ideal 'canvas' for Aboriginal artists. The Sydney Rock Engravings, as they are now known, have a distinctive style which is unique in Australia and the rest of the world. Figures are often life size or larger with some measuring up to 20 metres long. Figures most commonly depicted in engravings on the Bouddi Peninsula are fish, whales and shields. The engravings were probably made by first drawing the outline of a figure with charcoal or ochre, then using a hard pointed stone to peck a series of holes along the outline. Some figures can still be found at this stage of preparation, but in most cases the stone between the holes was rubbed away, either when the engraving was first made or during later visits.
The waters of the Hawkesbury River, Broken Bay and the Pacific Ocean provided an abundance of marine life and a plentiful food source for local Aboriginal people. Evidence from middens shows that fish (including eels, stingrays and sharks) were the principal diet during the Summer months. Schnapper and black bream were the most common fish, followed by leatherjacket, wrasse, rock cod and groper. Shellfish were also an important part of in the local diet, most commonly oysters, mussels, limpets, turban shells, triton shells and pipis. Cuttlefish, squid and octopus were also undoubtedly part of the menu.
The first European records of the Bouddi Peninsula were made by Captain James Cook on his journey up the east coast of Australia in 1770. He noted the three bluff points north of Broken Bay as Cape Three Points. This cape comprises almost half the coastline of the Bouddi Peninsula. European settlement in the area began in the 1820s with subsistence farming, where the main source of income was timber getting, boat building and gathering shells for lime production. Settlement and development were slow in the area due to its unsuitability for agriculture and the limited boat access from Sydney. In 1891 the population in the MacMasters Beach area was only 11 and in the Killcare/Wagstaffe area only 22. Following the completion of the railway through Gosford in 1889 and the construction of the Scenic Road in the late 1920s, residential subdivisions were carried out in areas adjacent to the present park. Development was mainly confined to the waterfront until the 1960s, when the Scenic Road from Kincumber to Killcare was sealed. Construction of the Rip Bridge in 1974 helped make the Bouddi Peninsula a popular residential area for holiday houses, permanent residents and commuters as home builders were attracted by the scenic and recreational values of the area. As a result, the district has had an extremely high building rate over the last twenty years or so, rapidly turning the park into a natural island amidst residential development.
Bouddi National Park came about through the work of a few individuals over many years. The first reservation of land for public purposes was made in 1876 when all vacant Crown Land on the seaboard between Port Stephens and Jervis Bay was reserved from sale 'on account of coal'. Most of the 1876 Coal Reserve in this area is now in Bouddi National Park. In 1922 a Sydney solicitor, Marie Byles, visited the area with some friends and recognised the natural values of Bouddi Peninsula and its potential for parkland. She later persuaded the newly formed federation of bushwalking clubs to recommend to the NSW Department of Lands that the narrow reserve for coal along the coast, from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach, be reserved for public recreation. Eventually in July 1935, 650 acres (263 hectares) were reserved and six trustees were appointed. The trustees set about securing additions to the park to make it more viable. Early additions included vacant Crown Land above Caves Creek and around Mount Bullimah. A particular effort was made by the Trust to secure the entire catchment of Maitland Bay and most of this land, both Crown and freehold, was ultimately acquired.
In 1959 44 hectares were added to the park on the northern side of the Scenic Road and all existing reserves comprising Bouddi Natural Park, as it was then known, were revoked and re-reserved for 'public recreation and the promotion of the study and preservation of native flora and fauna'. A major problem facing the early trustees was the lack of financial assistance. No staff could be engaged and all work on tracks, water supply, campsites etc. was done by volunteers until 1960. The first government grant of any significance was received that year, enabling the trustees to employ a full time ranger.
In the 1960s heavy mineral sand mining took place on Putty Beach near Killcare and on Tallow Beach before it became part of the park. Subsequent dune restoration altered the natural sand dune contours and vegetation succession, and introduced bitou bush into the park. At Little Beach a large area (about 50 ha) on the eastern side of the Scenic Road west of Bombi Moor was twice mined for sand in the 1960s, first for silica sand for the manufacture of optical glass, and then for fill for St Huberts Island. The area was finally sold to the NPWS in 1978. In 1967 the park (by then totalling 530 hectares) was dedicated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act and re-named Bouddi State Park. In 1974 it became Bouddi National Park. Today the park covers an area in excess of 1500 hectares.
The Maitland Bay Centre is staffed by volunteers on weekends between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm. You can pick up local maps and brochures of Bouddi National Park and the surrounding area.
educational activities Natural setting: dry eucalypt forests
The Maitland Bay Information Centre commenced its life as a home for the Wall family. The lower section of the building was built in 1945 and was occupied as a family home by the Walls. In 1950 the upper (front) section of the building was completed and used as a shop, becoming quite famous for its Devonshire Teas. In 1970 NPWS took over the building and it was originally occupied by the superintendant for Bouddi National Park. Today the building is used as an Information Centre and staffed by volunteers on weekends and public holidays between 11.00 am and 3.00pm. Providing visitors with information on the reserve and surrounding area, the centre is an ideal spot to start your exploration of the park.
Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.
Sat - Sun 11.00 am to 3.00 pm
Visitor centre, carpark, public phone
The Maitland Bay Shelter was originally built in May 1940 at a working bee organised by the Federation of Bushwalking Clubs. A number of walking tracks and other facilities were established in the same manner. The main purpose of the shelter was to provide good drinking water for visitors to Maitland Bay. The shelter has been retained and maintained by the Service in tribute to early park workers.
The Maitland Store has been a focal point for visitors to Bouddi National Park since its construction between 1945 and 1950. Many visitors used to call at the house for directions and drinks of water, so the owners at the time (John and Dulcie Wall) decided to add a small shop at the front, which became known as the Maitland Store. It was also used as a meeting place for the Park Trust. From 1968 to 1973 the Maitland Store was used as the office and residence of the park's first superintendent. The property was bought by the NPWS in about 1970, however the Service had no immediate use for the building. The park's advisory committee believed the Maitland Store had good potential for an information centre and in 1990 it became the Maitland Bay Information Centre.
Military emplacements were constructed during World War II near Mount Bouddi as part of Sydney's system of defences. Remains of these still exist.
The PS Maitland sank off Bouddi Point in 1898 and its remains still lie on the rock platform at the northern end of Maitland Bay. Twenty six lives were lost in the shipwreck and nine of the victims were buried locally at Booker Bay. The ship's bell was recovered in 1959 and a few years later was mounted on a sandstone podium outside the Maitland Store by the Brisbane Water Historical Society. The Maitland left Sydney for Newcastle on the night of 5 May 1898 in company with the South Australian. The weather quickly blew up into a terrifying gale that was to wreak havoc on the coast and would become known in later years as The Maitland Gale. At 1.30 am a sponson (paddle-wheel housing) was ripped away by a wave and the Maitland started shipping water. The crew and passengers worked hard to pump water out of the ship. Captain Skinner ordered the deck cargo thrown overboard to lighten the load and decided to turn back to the shelter of Broken Bay. Shortly after the second sponson was carried away and the water filling the hold put out the boiler fires. The Maitland drifted helplessly and at 5.45 am it crashed onto the bombora and broke in half. After three attempts a line was secured ashore by a passenger, John Russell, and most of the passengers and crew who had survived the break-up of the ship were brought ashore before the line snapped. Captain Skinner, the first mate, three crewmen and a baby remained on the stern section of the ship until a new steel cable was secured on the following day. They were then successfully winched ashore in a basket. Captain Skinner was the last to leave. In the historical accounts, estimates of loss of life vary considerably, but probably 15 passengers and 12 crew died and 36 people were rescued.
Remains of paddle steamer can be seen at low-tide at the eastern end of Maitland Bay.
Remains of the PS Maitland can be seen at the northern end of Maitland Bay at low tide. Follow the Maitland Bay track from near the Maitland Bay Centre (staffed on weekends between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm) to the beach. Follow the shoreline along to the northern end where the remains can be viewed from the rock platform. Source: NSW National Parks