The deep connection between the Illawarra's indigenous people and Bellambi Point was recognised yesterday, as the coastal site was declared an official Aboriginal Place.
Aboriginal Places are set by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and are a way of legally recognising and protecting Aboriginal heritage on public and private land.
Bellambi Point is the second such site in the Illawarra, following the 2007 declaration of nearby Sandon Point. There are now 80 Aboriginal Places in NSW.
Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Sharralyn Robinson said yesterday marked an important milestone for the region's indigenous people that added an extra layer of protection to a culturally significant site.
"We have fought long and hard to have this site declared since 2007," she said.
"We had to be able to prove the significance of the area, and Bellambi Point is not only a burial ground, it's also a tool site and has a huge history of significance to the local people here."
Bellambi Point is home to one of the state's largest Aboriginal shell middens, which provides evidence that it was an important food and camping area.
It was also a bush school room, where elders taught children traditional stories and practices such as collecting and using bush foods and natural medicines.
A burial site was found in the area in 1965, and the ancestral remains and artefacts were moved from Bellambi Point, when a sewage treatment plant was established at the site.
Ms Robinson said the new status meant restoration work on the degraded area could now begin.
"We now want the state government to allocate the funds to build a multipurpose centre out there that will house a family and children's centre, our keeping place, our office space and conference rooms," she said.
"We want to create an education tool for future generations."
There are plans to repatriate ancestral remains to the area.