Book Holiday Haven Accommodation

How Holiday Haven and Jerrinja locals are helping to restore balance

Holiday Haven
30 Sep 2022

Holiday memories can last a lifetime – and for many of us, we can remember visiting the Shoalhaven’s sparkling coast when we were young. But what about 20,000 years ago? That’s part of the focus of a recent collaboration between Holiday Haven and Shoalhaven Council.

A Problem to Solve

Every solution starts with a problem, and for Holiday Haven Culburra Beach, the wild and wet weather events of early 2022 led to Banksia and other native plant species falling along the park boundary, causing more frequent and widespread inundation within the park. This area, between the park and the beach, had also become overgrown with weeds in recent years and something needed to be done.

Fast forward to early spring and from a distance, someone staying at the park may have thought it was routine weed control maintenance. But it’s more than that – and the presence of Ron Carberry and Adam Crossley on site are important pieces to bring the puzzle together.

Ron and Adam are part of Shoalhaven Council’s Aboriginal Bush Regeneration team – working with more than 60 bushcare groups, schools and other organisations across the Shoalhaven region (its boundaries align with Jerrinja tribal country) in providing awareness and practical solutions to help restore natural habitats. Together with Holiday Haven’s Works & Project Officer Connor Burke, they spent months planning a better way to complete the works required – one that would recognise the cultural significance of the site.

“It’s about finding that balance,” Connor says. “We’re passionate about doing the right thing.”

Respecting the Land

Ron Carberry has first-hand knowledge of the tribal significance of the Culburra region, having grown up locally as a Jerrinja youth playing on giant sand dunes that once bordered the park. He can remember what the land used to look like, as well as the location of important midden and burial sites – which is why he is passionate about protecting the natural environment and cultural heritage which he innately knows so well.

“Almost every Holiday Haven campsite sits within what was once an Aboriginal campsite. It makes sense – it was beautiful back then and now,” Ron explains. And while he recognises that you cannot turn back time to reverse decisions of the past, it’s important to take the right care today and pass the knowledge on.

“Sixty percent of our sites are not recorded – we only know about them due to their significance and to protect them into perpetuity. A lot of my elders are getting older. A lot of our history will be lost with them when they go. So, we have to document as much as we can now. And I believe education and awareness can help preserve these areas.”

Holiday Haven agrees, having funded two Jerrinja trainees who worked alongside Ron and Adam across the two weeks. “There’s the practicality of preventing holiday park inundation, while still being culturally and environmentally aware,” says Connor.

The most important consideration for the Culburra project was to not use any machinery to complete the bush regeneration work. All the weed removal and cut-and-painting of lantana was done by hand. Excavators might have done a quicker job, but the long- term benefits made more sense – focused on not disturbing the soil and preventing erosion.

With Ron and his team on site, they have been able to advise on what native plants to keep and what to remove, all with an eye to the future.

“This is the start of a magic relationship with Holiday Haven and the Jerrinja tribe,” Ron says. “Every one of the parks have historic aboriginal sites within them – there are a lot of tourist opportunities. 

“People are starting to appreciate what they’ve got, since the pandemic. Now they see there are more things in life – an awareness of the real world. I’m so proud that Holiday Haven has given us the opportunity to come and do this.”

Ron Carberry (Bushcare Bush Regenerator Shoalhaven City Council), Connor Burke (Holiday Haven Works & Project Officer), Brian Williams McLeod (Jerrinja Bush Regenerator trainee) , Kim Beauchamp (Holiday Haven Culburra Beach Park Manager) and Michael Smith (Bushcare Coordinator Shoalhaven Council)

Exciting Opportunities

The Culburra project is just the beginning of what is hoped will be a productive collaboration. The Bush Regeneration team have been working with Culburra park manager Kim Beauchamp and her staff to educate them on keeping the balance and managing the sites. They plan to do the same across other parks in the future, with initiatives that include interpretation signage, education and tours for park guests.

“We’re never going to get rid of roads or buildings. It’s about finding a natural compromise where it’s needed. Finding that balance between development and protection.” says Ron.

Connor agrees and is a big advocate for a more sustainable approach. “At Holiday Haven, we saw an issue, and worked out how we would fix it culturally and environmentally, without disturbance,” he says. “If we can implement the plan here, we can follow it across to other parks.”

Sometimes it takes a natural event to implement change. And here, a small project is set to benefit future generations and pass on vital knowledge of the land. Ron sums it up best:

“Jerrinja tribe’s motto is that Aboriginal culture equals Australian culture. And we want all Aussies to protect the land they live on. Smell it, breathe it. If you are living on this land, you protect it."


Book Online