Jervis Bay Territory: Your Questions Answered

When most people think of Jervis Bay, they think of the popular tourist destination on the NSW South Coast. Technically, Jervis Bay is a body of water with settlements along the northern and southern sides. These include the villages of Huskisson, Vincentia, Callala Beach, Callala Bay and Hyams Beach.

Jervis Bay also includes Jervis Bay Territory, a little known but rather unique piece of land that is a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. Even though Jervis Bay Territory is administered by the ACT (cars have ACT plates and if you encounter a police officer they will be AFP), it is actually a completely separate territory. 


Here’s a quick rundown on the history, who lives there and what makes it so special.

Jervis Bay Territory: Fast Facts

  • Jervis Bay Territory became federal territory when in 1915 the capital decided it needed a port. Being the closest body of water to Canberra, it made sense for New South Wales to hand over the small peninsula. A Royal Australian Naval College (HMAS Creswell) was opened shortly after.
  • Administration is divided up between ACT government agencies, NSW government agencies, Shoalhaven City Council and commercial contractors.
  • Residents have no state or local representation, but their votes in federal elections count toward the Division of Fenner..
  • The ACT cannabis laws (allowing adults to possess up to 50 grams of cannabis) do not apply in Jervis Bay Territory due to the complexities involved in applying them.
  • Most of the 391 residents work in defence and live in one of the two small villages of Jervis Bay Village and Wreck Bay Village

Watch this video for a quick rundown on the history of Jervis Bay Territory. 


Population Statistics

According to the 2016 Census, Jervis Bay Territory has a population of 391 with a median age of 32.

52.4% of the population is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The most common ancestries are Australian, English and Australian Aboriginal. 299 out of 391 (77.7%) people were born in Australia with England the only other response. 65% of people have parents who were both born in Australia. 

32.8% of people in have no religion which reflects the national average of 30.1%. Defence is the biggest employer (57.5%) followed by Nature Reserves and Conservation Parks Operation.

Booderee National Park: Jewel In The Crown

Most of Jervis Bay Territory (around three-quarters) is made up of the exquisitely beautiful and ecologically important Booderee National Park. It is one of only three parks in Australia owned and managed by traditional owners, in this case the local Wreck Bay Community. Tourists flock to the stunning white sand beaches over the summer and the park provides a safe haven for rare and endangered species. In 2018, the Eastern Quoll was released into Booderee after previously having become extinct on the mainland. 

Jervis Bay Pronunciation

Is it called JER-vis or JAR-vis Bay? If you’re from Sydney, you’ll probably say JARvis. However, locals are adamant that the correct pronunciation is JERvis and they are not shy in letting visitors know! The Navy is on the side of Sydneysiders:

“The official pronunciation that the Navy puts forward is JAR-vis. It was named after a fellow who was nicknamed Old Jarvy,” (ABC News, 2017)

But, does it really matter?

A linguist from the Australian National University doesn’t seem to think so

“I don’t know that there is such a thing as an objective pronunciation of a place,” (ABC News, 2017)

We tend to agree.

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