Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary


Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary

Mushroom Reef 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.

Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary is a special and family-friendly spot for marine discovery. The sea withdraws at low tide to expose a huge mushroom-shaped ‘platform’. A line of cobbles stretches out to sea from Flinders Ocean Beach, forming the stalk of the mushroom. At the tip, sections of reef branch out on either side. Other reefs lie to the left and right and further out to sea, making a mosaic of sheltered bays and pools.

The reefs and rocks are home to diverse marine life, thanks to the ‘micro-habitats’ formed in the cracks and crevices of ancient basalt and seagrass meadows in the surrounding seabed. These unique underwater landscapes allow many different marine creatures to live close together. You'll want to return to the sanctuary time and time again, as visiting at different times of the year will allow you to see different marine species.

You may be very lucky and spot the amazing Black and White Sea Star, one of only two sea stars known to brood its young in its belly. Get up close by snorkelling or diving, and see fish such as Saddled Wrasse, Magpie Morwong and the strange box-like Cowfish moving through the seaweed fronds. Watch the Weedy Seadragons, Victoria’s marine state emblem, as they beat their small fins to hover over the seagrass beds.

Take a wander along the sands at Flinders Ocean Beach. Try some beachcombing and climb up to the lookout for sweeping sea views. This park is also a good place to see Pied Oystercatchers, Ruddy Turnstone and small migratory shorebirds such as the Red-necked Stint.

Scientists and naturalists have been discovering unique new species of marine creatures at Mushroom Reef for more than a hundred years. Today, it’s just as popular with tourists and schoolchildren who want to learn about these amazing underwater worlds for themselves. The best time to visit the sanctuary and explore the rockpools is around low tide, 2 hours on either side.

Remember to take only photographs and memories: to keep the sanctuary ecosystem healthy and safe, collecting shells and marine life from the sanctuary is not allowed.

Things To Do

Two children walk through the rockpools at Mushroom Reef.

Rock pooling

Explore the rocky reef at low tide. Spot colourful anemones, flitting fish and scurrying crabs.
A snorkeller inspects a reef with a magnifying glass at Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary.

Diving and Snorkelling

Get up close and personal with the subtidal reef and the diverse marine life that call it home.
A Park Ranger looks at a rock pool with two young children.

Sea Search Intertidal Reef Monitoring program

Participate in the Sea Search Intertidal Reef Monitoring program. To find out more and register to be a volunteer at ParkConnect

Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary

Anemones, Black and White Sea Star, Saddled Wrasse, Magpie Morwong, Cowfish, Weedy Seadragons, crabs, Elephant Snail, Chiton, Sea Hare, Intertidal Slug, Dog Winkle, Blue-ringed Octopus, Shore Crab, Bryozoan, and Biscuit Star all call this sanctuary home.

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

Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary

Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary is located in Flinders, 92km south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. The sanctuary lies off Flinders Ocean Beach and is reached via West Head by following Golf Links Road. If you stay on Golf Links Road, there is a hang gliding launch site with car parking.

When to go

Warm and usually calmer water. Look for Sea Hares that visit the sanctuary. You may even find their egg mass - these look like bright orange or yellow 2-minute noodles. New shoots of Neptune Necklace appear in the rockpools and this is the best time for all species of plants and animals to grow and reproduce. Summer is the best time for snorkelling or scuba diving in the warmer water.

Need to know

Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary

Change of Conditions

Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.

  • Flinders Ocean Beach

    Mushroom Reef Toilet Closure Flinders Ocean Beach

    The toilet at Flinders Ocean Beach, Mushroom Reef is permanently closed.  The nearest alternative public toilets are Flinders town centre public toilets.

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