The Julian Rocks Nguthungulli Nature Reserve is a protected nature reserve that is located on the Julian Rocks in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, in Australia. The 4,047-hectare (10,000-acre) reserve comprise two small islands, situated approximately 2.5 kilometres off the coast of Byron Bay.
This group of small islets out in the Bay are very significant to the Arakwal people, with are several important Dreaming stories associated with Julian Rocks.
In one story, Nguthungulli, Father of the World, who created all the land and the waters, the animals and plants, now rests in a cave at Julian Rocks. The Elders have instructed over the generations that Nguthungulli must be protected from any misuse or it will cause destruction.
According to Elder, Yvonne Stewart, Nguthungulli was used by Arakwal people in ceremonies when the ocean water levels were lower 7000 years ago and it was accessible land.
In 1982, after pressure from locals, the area surrounding the rocks was established as a marine reserve, with all fishing and commercial exploitation banned for a 500 metres (1,600 ft) range around the rocks. The area is home to large numbers of marine species, including leopard sharks, grey nurse sharks, wobbegong, a variety of nudibranchs. It’s one of about a dozen critical habitats for the grey nurse shark in NSW.
From May to September, humpback whales are commonly spotted traveling between the rocks and the mainland and are a common sighting on the short boat trip between the mainland and the rocks.
The Cape Byron Marine Park, declared in 2002, surrounds the reserve. A sanctuary zone within the marine park was declared in 2006.
Scuba divers identify the site as one of the top sites in Australia for its wide variety of marine life. The popular dive spots include
Offers a shallow dive from 5 metres to 12 metres with plenty of reef fish. Located on the sheltered western side of Julian Rocks.
Home to many species of nudibranch and leopard sharks in the warmer months (Dec-May). The depths range is 10 to 15 metres.
A trench runs all the way through Julian Rocks, that is home to turtles, wobbegongs, nursery sharks, and many other species. The depth range is from 12 to 18 metres.
The Cod Hole
An underwater swim through reaching a depth of 21 metres, home to grey nurse sharks, big moray eels, blue groupers, wobbegongs and other large fish.
The Cray Cave
A mass of huge rock outcrops and small cave located on the south-east end of Julian Rocks. Depths of 25 metres, you can see turtles, grey nurse sharks, cod and rays.