Today the sanctuary provides visitors with the opportunity to explore through the lovely heathland vegetation. At any time of year, it is a great spot for bird watching, and a visit in late winter and spring is the best time to see the stunning range of wildflowers, including orchids, lilies, grass-trees, banksia, tea-tree and native peas.
The main section of the sanctuary is fenced and is open to visitors every Thursday from 7.30 am until 2 pm, and on the second Sunday of the month between 10 am and 12 pm (which is when Friends group has their working bee).
There are various short trails that wind through the vegetation. Some are quite narrow and pass through dense heathy vegetation. It's easy to forget that there's a busy road and high rise developments nearby. The trails are sandy underfoot and flat.
The heathland requires regular fire to maintain plant species diversity and to stop the Coast Tea-tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) from overgrowing and shading out the heathland plants. Ecological burning can be difficult to achieve in an urban area, but over the years the local council has conducted small patchwork-like burns in the sanctuary to promote plant regeneration and to maintain a diversity of heathland structures throughout the reserve.
An area that has recently had an ecological burn for heathland regeneration
Along the western edge of the sanctuary is a perimeter path and a shady seating area among the trees which is accessible at any time – not just during opening hours. This area also has a raised lookout so you can get a lovely view across the sanctuary at any time as well.
The lookout is open any time with a view across the reserve
Bay Road Heathland Reserve is one of several small reserves in the Bayside area protecting the last remaining pockets of heathland and heathy woodland that once formed the "Sandringham Flora". George Street Reserve, which protects another high-quality patch of heathland, is a short walk to the south, via Merindah Park. Other heathland reserves further to the south in nearby Beaumaris include Donald McDonald Reserve, Long Hollow Heathland and Balcombe Park.
A peaceful seating area along the western edge of the reserve, open all the time
Parking is available on nearby side streets although check parking signs as many areas are time-limited. There is no parking available on the busy section of Bay Road directly out the front of the reserve (and take care if you need to cross this road - it might be safer to use the pedestrian crossing located to the west).