Jawbone Marine Sanctuary


Jawbone Marine Sanctuary

Jawbone Marine Sanctuary sits within an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Sea Country of the Bunurong People. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Bunurong Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.

Discover a pocket of tranquility and protected coastal habitats beside Williamstown. The small area of Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is incredibly diverse and contains examples of all marine habitats of northern Port Phillip.

The west of the promontory is comprised of saltmarsh and the largest area of mangroves within Port Phillip – the only Victorian mangroves growing on a basalt coast. Fine clayey sand and patches of seagrass lie offshore.

The eastern side of the sanctuary has rocky environments, from the high up areas only occasionally touched by storm waves to submerged boulders and ledges that lie beneath the lowest tides. Soft basalt rock has weathered into smaller rocks and pools that are a home for tidal creatures. Sandy beaches lie between the clay and rock.

Visitors can encounter a range of marine and bird life in these diverse habitats. Explore the pretty gardens of green or pink coralline algae in the rockpools and try to spot urchins and crabs within the crevices or large turban shells, limpets and snails. Snorkelers and swimmers can keep an eye out for glass shrimp and small fish darting amongst the seaweed in shallow waters and admire the brightly coloured sponges, nudibranchs and many fish around the submerged boulders.

From below the water, divers can see some of the heritage registered shipwrecks that are evidence of the strong maritime history of Williamstown. Birdwatch along the boardwalk or use the hides to catch a glimpse of migratory seabirds and shorebirds among the mangroves, mudflats and saltmarshes.

Things To Do

The boardwalk at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary

Wandering on the boardwalk

See the intertidal flora and fauna up close and watch for local and migratory birds.
Rockpools at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary


Explore the shoreline and try to spot the sea creatures that call these unique habitats home.
A man and son snorkelling at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary

Snorkelling and diving

Discover the underwater world of Jawbone Marine Sanctuary. Head out from the main bay area within the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary to find extensive seagrass beds, where you might spot an elusive pipefish or feeding southern fiddler rays. Follow the point around to the western side of the bay to find rocky reef and brightly coloured algae which provide important habitat for diverse fish populations.
A pot-bellied seahorse blends in with the algae. Credit:  Jill Wheeler

Sea kayaking and canoeing

Launch your vessel from the nearby Williamstown Beach or Bayview Street to view the sanctuary from a slightly different perspective.

Jawbone Marine Sanctuary

This area is well known for its wildlife. Keep an eye out for:

Weedy Seadragon

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

Jawbone Marine Sanctuary

This park is a short 20-minute drive from Melbourne and is easy to access via the shore or boat. The nearest boat ramps can be found in Newport or Altona. The sanctuary is a 20-minute walk from Williamstown Station. Alternatively, you can take the 471 or 472 buses from Newport Station.

When to go

Relax on the sandy beaches of the Jawbone Bay and go for a dip in the shallows. The protected bay makes a great place for younger visitors to splash about or explore in the rockpools.

Need to know

Jawbone Marine Sanctuary

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