Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary


Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.

Beware Reef is a diver’s paradise. An isolated rock covered in life of every conceivable shape and colour, it rises abruptly out of the sandy Gippsland seafloor. The reef showcases a unique mix of both warmer and cooler temperate species, due to its location between the eastern Australian current flowing from the north and a cooler westerly current flowing through Bass Strait.

The striking underwater landscapes at Beware Reef make it a popular location for recreational divers. The sanctuary also contains the remains of numerous shipwrecks, including the Ridge Park (1878), the Albert San (1915) and the SS Auckland, a steamship wrecked on the reef in 1871.

The tip of the reef rises above the surface, a favourite resting place for passing Australian fur seals. Australian fur seals are naturally very curious and love to interact with divers so do not pursue them as they will come to you.

On one side of the reef lie the remains of an old shipwreck. On another is a pink garden of encrusting coralline algae, kept free of large kelps by the voracious black sea-urchin, hiding during the day under ledges. At night large Maori octopuses lurk amongst the kelp stalks.

Around the edge of Beware Reef is a thick rim of bull kelp fronds, guarding the treasures below. Where there is enough light, the upper reef is covered in a dense canopy of brown seaweeds, interspersed with bright green meadows of green and red seaweeds.


Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary is part of a system of 13 Marine National Parks and 11 smaller Marine Sanctuaries created by the Victorian Government to ensure that representative samples of Victoria’s diverse, distinctive, and amazing marine environment are conserved for future generations. These parks and sanctuaries protect 5.3% of Victoria’s coastal waters, safeguarding important marine habitats and species, and complementing our world-class national parks system on land.

For more information about what you will find at Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary, get in touch with the Friends of Beware Reef.

Take a virtual dive

A diver exploring Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

See what lies beneath the surface of Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary. This footage was taken by Mike Irvine in Spring 2012.

Marine Life at Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Fur seals, sharks and lush kelp beds, come alive under the waves at Beware Reef. Thanks to the Friends of Beware Reef for sharing their fantastic footage.

Underwater garden at Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Friends of Beware Reef have captured some fantastic footage of huge schools of fish and colourful invertebrate communities at Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary.

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary Community Dive Weekend

Parks Victoria in conjunction with Friends of Beware Reef hosted an exploratory dive trip at the Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary in East Gippsland.

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Humpback whales are commonly seen passing through the Sanctuary on their southern migration from September to November as they return from the north to the feeding grounds of the colder Antarctic waters. Australian, and occasionally New Zealand, fur seals are regular visitors to Beware Reef. Fish are abundant; trumpeters appear suddenly from the deep, while long-snouted boarfish, wrasses and morwongs patrol the rocks. Port Jackson sharks and wobbegongs can be seen resting in sandy hollows.



Tours and adventure experiences in parks

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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.

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How to get there

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary is located 5km southeast of Cape Conran, just more than 3km offshore from Yeerung River. The sanctuary covers 220 hectares and comprises a 1.5km square around the reef. The exposed section of rock sits 2m above the water at low tide and is 70m long. Under the surface the reef continues for 1km to the southeast.

Access to Beware Reef is by boat; the ocean ramp at West Cape, Cape Conran is the closest launching facility, 18km east of the Marlo township. The ramp is exposed to south westerly winds and Beware Reef itself is exposed to all wind directions. Safe access is only possible in calm weather by experienced boat operators.

When to go

Waters are starting to warm, and fish are starting to get more active.

Need to know

Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

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