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Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary

Home > Melbourne > Nature | Outdoor | Parks | Walks
by Lyndsey V (subscribe)
I'm an ecologist and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Also visit me at www.instagram.com/victoriafloraandfauna/
Published November 1st 2018
A heathland nature park in the heart of Bayside
Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, protects one of the last remaining areas of the iconic "Sandringham Flora" that once covered Melbourne's south east.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
The main entrance to Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary off Bay Road, Sandringham


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.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
Chocolate Lillies flowering in the sanctuary


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).

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
Heading through the gate during opening hours


During these times the gates are unlocked so you can head in and take a walk around. Remember to bring a camera, and binoculars if you'd like to do a spot of birdwatching.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
A narrow sandy trail through the heathland plants


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.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
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.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
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.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
A peaceful seating area along the western edge of the reserve, open all the time


There is an active Friends Group who hold regular working bees and are always after new members and volunteers.

Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary, Sandringham, heathland, walks, parks, bird watching, wildflowers, walking trails, nature
A Trigger Plant flowering in spring


Dogs are not permitted in the sanctuary.

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).
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Why? Explore a heathland sanctuary and see the wildflowers
When: Wednesdays between 7.30 am and 2 pm and every second Saturday of the month between 10 am and 12 pm
Phone: 03 9599 4444 (Bayside City Council)
Where: Bay Road, Sandringham
Cost: Free
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