Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

Located near the mouth of the Barwon River, Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary protects 17 hectares of reef and sea life. Featuring a diversity of habitats in a small area, it makes an excellent spot for learning about local marine life by exploring the rock platforms and beaches on an organised or self-guided tour.

It is also a great place for snorkelling and diving to discover a fascinating and complex underwater world featuring feather stars and barnacles, sea slugs, rays and small sharks, and schools of fish living amongst the kelp forests, sandstone arches, and colourful sponge gardens.

The eastern half of the reef is basalt and exposed to the flow of the river, while the western side is old sandstone influenced by ocean swell. Keen explorers may be able to find the remains of a shipwreck (Earl of Charlemont, 1853) on the outer edges of the reef.

Back on the shore enjoy bird watching and rock pool rambling, or simply take a walk around the Bluff and along Thirteenth Beach for stunning views over the sanctuary, Bass Strait, and glimpses of the kelp forests rising from submerged sections of the reef.

As beaches and coasts are natural environments, you may encounter hazards. Follow our water safety advice to make sure your day out at Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary is a safe and enjoyable one.

Things To Do

A diver takes a photo a school of fish in the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.

Scuba diving

Dive to the depths of the ocean floor in marine national parks or explore shipwrecks at the bottom of the bays.
A weedy seadragon swims along near the sea bed.

Meet some of our unique marine life

Marine national parks and sanctuaries exist to protect Victoria’s unique and diverse marine ecosystem, and the many plants and animals that live in them. Meet some of the marine life that these parks protect.
Father and son bird watching on boardwalk

Bird watching

From bushland to wetlands and everything in between, parks provide habitat to an abundance of common and rare bird species. Go for a wander and see how many you can spot.
Two women follow the path through scrub up Mt Bogong with mountain views in the distance.


Whether you’re after a gentle stroll or something long-distance, there are walking trails to suit all levels of fitness and ability.
Mum helps her young son as he jumps off a large piece of drift wood at West Cape Beach.


Walk white sandy beaches, swim in cool coastal waters or surf the wild waves of the Southern Ocean.
A man in a red wetsuit and a women with the top half of her wetsuit undone follow two men in to the surf on the Morning Peninsula.


Learn to surf from beaches dotted along the coast or for experienced boarders ride the ultimate wave at ocean back beaches or famous Bells Beach.

Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

This area is well known for its wildlife, such as diverse intertidal invertebrate communities including limpets, whelks, barnacles, mussels, tube worms, and sea squirts. There are also diverse fish communities within kelp forests and subtidal reefs including Western Blue Groper, Horseshoe and Six-spined Leatherjackets, Magpie Perch, Boarfish, Herring Kale, Zebra Fish, Port Jackson Shark, Smooth Stingray. Keep an eye out for shorebirds and seabirds including Pied Oyster Catcher, Hooded Plover, Pacific Gull, Black-browed Albatross.

As well as unique fauna, there are extensive platforms covered in Neptunes Necklace, coralline algae, and turfing algae. On the shore, there are rockpools containing Sea Nymph Seagrass and green, brown and red algae. Subtidal Kelp Forests containing Crayweed, Bull Kelp, Giant Kelp and many other species are a highlight of the area.


Tours and adventure experiences in parks

One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.

Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more. 

Licensed Tour Operators know all the best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

Visitors can access the Marine Sanctuary from the town of Barwon Heads.

When to go

Go in summer for rockpool rambles (with Parks Victoria and Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre), walking and swimming, snorkelling, diving, and surfing.

Need to know

Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

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