Batemans Bay Marine Park
Should you actually stay in the Batemans Bay area, rather than just passing through, chances are that you’ll have an aquatic interest of some kind.
You should be aware, if you are not already, that much of the area is under the constraints of the Batemans Bay Marine Park. There are no restrictions on activities such as swimming or walking on beaches, but take careful note of the coloured areas on the attached photo of the Marine Park signage:
· The blue areas are unrestricted General Use zones
· The mustard coloured areas are Habitat Protection zones, where line fishing and other general usage are OK, but haul nets are not allowed
· The pinkish areas are Sanctuary zones, where no fishing is allowed and boats are permitted only to anchor.
I won’t pretend that the Marine Park has not caused a degree of controversy. That said, I have seen several recent articles by a prominent fishing writer, suggesting that the fishing has improved generally since it was introduced, so I think it would have to be considered a success.
There is extensive signage about the Marine Park near popular launching ramps, however in case you wish more detail, I have listed the website and phone number for the Marine Park Authority below.
"Or, usually, just ‘The Bay’ to locals"
One of the nice things about writing is that you can place yourself anywhere at any time. So let’s start off on the deck of HMS Endeavour under the command of Lt. James Cook, on 22 April 1770.
A few days before, after crossing the Pacific Ocean, the ship had reached the eastern coast of what now is Australia and, turning northwards to follow it, the good Captain had begun mapping. Maps just don’t look much more convincing than a wavy line unless there is some detail, so he needed some place names. About a day earlier he had named Mt Dromedary, a short distance inland from the coast, because that made its rounded camel-like hump easily identifiable for future mariners. Now he was passing a wide V shaped bay with some small islands in it. I can imagine him looking at a list of names of luminaries, dignitaries and fellow naval officers intended for posterity as place names, before placing a tick alongside the name of Captain Nathaniel Bateman, under whom he had served several years previously. I am unsure if he also named the Tollgate Islands in front of the bay, but it seems likely. Although it should have appeared a reasonable place for a landing, he continued sailing northward.
Timber cutters reached the area in the early 1800s following the founding of the colony in New South Wales. Apparently one boat was attacked by the local Aboriginals, but in general the area developed quietly with agriculture, fishing and timber logging the main industries. As with much of coastal New South Wales, road transport was primitive with unsealed roads and ferries across rivers until the 1950s. Finally the Princes Highway to Sydney and Melbourne was sealed, bridges were built. Maybe most importantly for “the Bay”, up the range the National Capital, Canberra, began to grow and this was the nearest beachside area. Which is why, when the hordes of holidaymakers come down from the hills, “the Bay” sometimes is rather unkindly called “Little-Canberra-by-the-Sea”. What would Cook have thought of that as a name on his map?
More to come – this will be a ‘work in progress for some time.
"The World comes to the Bay"
Yes, folk, it’s true! The World has come to Batemans Bay. Well, to expand on that just a little, the luxury cruise ship The World made a stopover at the Bay late in December 2009. Great excitement all around, because this is not part of the usual route, in fact it seems only one cruise ship has ever before visited and that was 15 years ago – though the Bay was formerly a port on the old coastal shipping service.