By: Chris Whitelaw, Photography by: Chris Whitelaw

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Greenwell Point, 120 km south of Sydney and 14km east of Nowra, has the honour of overlooking the estuary of two rivers – the short-lived Crookhaven and, to the north, the more important but not always readily-navigable Shoalhaven. Owing to its shallow, barred entrance the Shoalhaven River can only be entered via the Crookhaven River and Berrys Canal.

In 1822, Alexander Berry and his business partner, Edward Wollstonecraft, took up land near the Shoalhaven River and were assigned convict labour to dig a canal (‘Berrys Canal’) between it and the Crookhaven. This not only drained their adjoining land but also provided access to the sea from the Shoalhaven River. Until the turn of the century, the township enjoyed more than fifty years as the district’s major port, with produce being ferried to the river mouth by shallow-draught vessels – cedar logs were floated or towed – and loaded aboard steamers bound for Sydney. Infrastructure was refined by the construction of the first wharf on the grassy Point in 1829, as well as training walls and a short breakwater at the river entrance between 1902 and 1912.

The mouth of the river at Crookhaven Heads.

Today, Greenwell Point’s economic mainstay is seafood - a multitude of species harvested by a small fleet of trawlers, and succulent oysters from leases massed along the Crookhaven channel. The village has general stores, a hotel, butcher, cafés (‘Pelican Rocks Café’ won the 2017 award for Best Fish and Chips in New South Wales), public transport and a service station offering the only fuel in town. Accommodation is available in three caravan parks, self-contained holiday houses and seaside motels.

The bar at the Crookhaven entrance is reasonably deep - about 4.5 metres at its shallowest - and may be safely crossed in most weather conditions. It is sheltered from prevailing southeast swells by the headland but, if approaching from the south in a developed swell, prepare for heavy rolling when rounding up for the entrance. Use a rising tide if entering during strong northerlies, as you can then reduce the incidence of breaking waves across the bar.

Marine Rescue vessels at the Shaws Creek moorings west of Greenwell Point.

The Crookhaven River admits vessels of considerable draft, following leading beacons with red beacons outlining reef extremities to port. Back-leads on Station Hill show the best water west of the headland, beyond which lateral marks take you to Greenwell Point or into Berry’s Canal. Meandering shoals in the channel present a navigation hazard and northeast winds and current may make it difficult to navigate.

Safe anchorage in the Crookhaven River near Goodnight IslandAnchorage close to Greenwell Point is in the vicinity of local moored craft or on the other side of the river as far out of the channel as shoals allow. Alternative anchorage is possible further upstream or between Orient Point and Goodnight Island. The area off the Point is subject to lively windward tides during strong winds, but the holding is good in clean sand and so a dinghy can be landed on a beach near the wharf.

The Shaws Creek slipway at the end of West Street, Greenwell Point

The old wharf has been replaced with wharfing facilities sited close to the town centre (near the end of Greenwell Point Road) that are used by a number of local commercial fishermen and charter vessel operators. The public wharfing now only consists of the main concrete ‘Fishermen’s’ T jetty since a smaller timber L-shaped mooring jetty has been substantially demolished. Unfortunately, the wharf area lacks a slipway, fuel outlet, sewage pump-out, waste oil collection/storage and water and electricity services for moored vessels. The main jetty also requires upgrades and maintenance to fender piles and edge beams, and there is limited mooring space (about 10 vessels only), which is mostly taken up by commercial fishing vessels, and no short-stay berthing for smaller boats.

There is limited mooring for recreational vessels at the Greenwell Point wharf

Under the Coastal Infrastructure Program, the NSW Government has completed some repair work on the Mooring Jetty, and additional works are planned for the Fishermen’s Jetty. Investigation into possible locations for sewage pump-out at Greenwell Point is also deemed a priority project. In 2009 the government and Shoalhaven Council provided funds under the Better Boating Program for the construction of a pontoon landing with single-lane launching ramps on either side - located just north of the public jetty.The Orient Point boat ramp provides easy access to the Crookhaven River and Curleys Bay

Berths are sometimes available at Pine Park Caravan Park’s small marina in Shaws Creek (about a kilometre northwest of the public jetty) and moorings around the Point can be arranged by contacting Marine Rescue Shoalhaven. In Shaws Creek there is a council slipway and a jetty available to the public by arrangement (see notice at slipway). Jervis Street Wharf, west of Greenwell Point, is public with a Marine Rescue berth on one side; this is the best place for the dinghy when loading fuel and supplies._R9A4880a_Private jetties along the west bank of the Crookhaven River at Greenwell Point.jpg

Despite its shortage of berthing space close to town and lack of essential wharf facilities, Greenwell Point is a picturesque location offering safe anchorage in most weather conditions. It’s well worth a visit, if only for the award-winning seafood.


New South Wale’s South Coast region extends from the southern fringe of the Sydney Metropolitan area to Cape Howe on the Victorian border. It is the third most-visited tourism region in NSW - behind Sydney and the NSW North Coast - attracting more than nine million visitors annually. Marine-based activities such as boating, fishing, eco-charters and water-sports are a significant part of the attraction to the region’s many rivers, lakes and marine parks, while yachts and sea-going motor launches ply the offshore coastal waters in all seasons.

Outside of the major regional ports of Wollongong, Kiama, Ulladulla, Bermagui and Eden are many coastal towns and villages, whose location and accessibility make them popular (and sometimes crucial) anchorages and havens for the boating community. In this five-part series Chris Whitelaw explores some of the best ones: the friendly fishing village of Greenwell Point on the Crookhaven River, magnificent Jervis Bay and its white, sandy beaches, the seaside town of Batemans Bay (sometimes called "Canberra by the Sea"), the popular holiday town of Narooma at the gateway to Montague Island, and sparkling Merimbula, the heart of the Sapphire Coast.

The articles are general overviews. For more detailed information, refer to NSW Maritime boating maps, specialist guides such as Alan Lucas’ excellentCruising the New South Wales Coast (6th ed) or the local NSW Marine Rescue station.

Fishermen_s Jetty and wharf facilities at the end of Greenwell Point RoadGREENWELL POINT


  • Commercial fishing - unloading & berthing: Yes
  • Charter vessels: Yes
  • Recreational & visitors berthing: Yes but limited
  • Slipway & boat maintenance: Nearby (1.2km upstream in Shaw's Creek)
  • Car park: Yes
  • Vessel sewage pumpout: No
  • Fuel – diesel: No
  • Waste oil collection & storage: No
  • Water & electricity: No
  • Boat launching ramp & car park: Nearby (150m north)
  • Public toilets: Nearby (50m south)
  • Fresh fish outlet: No
  • Retail food & beverage: Nearby (150m south)


For casual berths -
Nowra District Fisherman's Cooperative
P: (02) 4421 2569

Roads and Maritime (South Nowra)   
(02) 4421 0080

Greenwell Point slipway –
Shoalhaven City Council
M: 0412 988 314

Marine Rescue Shoalhaven VHF Channels 16, 73, 81
P: (02) 4447 4466
M: 0429 474 466


Check out the full feature in issue #505 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration. 



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