Long Reef Aquatic Reserve

Long Reef Aquatic Reserve was the first aquatic reserve declared in NSW. The reserve celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020.


Long Reef Aquatic Reserve is located on Sydney's northern beaches. It is about 20 km north of Sydney city.

The reserve covers an area of approximately 80 hectares. Its boundaries extend along the shore from Collaroy rock baths south to Long Reef Surf Lifesaving Club and out to 100 m offshore.


  • conserve the biodiversity of fish and marine vegetation
  • protect fish habitat
  • facilitate educational activities
  • facilitate scientific research.


Long Reef Aquatic Reserve is centred on the extensive intertidal rocky shores that fringe the prominent Long Reef headland. A diversity of marine life is associated with the range of rocky shore habitats and different degrees of wave exposure around the headland.

The aquatic reserve also includes Fishermans Beach at Collaroy, a sheltered sandy beach on the northern side of the headland, the very exposed and rip-dominated northern end of Long Reef Beach, and some very small areas of sandy beach in amongst the rocky shore on Long Reef headland itself.

The reserve is also an important site for many species of migratory shorebirds.

What can I do in the Aquatic Reserve?

The reserve is an important site for educational activities and scientific research and is a popular site for school groups, university students and marine researchers.

Finfish (fish with a backbone) can be taken by hand held line or spear only, subject to other NSW fishing rules and regulations.

No invertebrate animals, cunjevoi or marine plants (whether alive or dead) can be taken or collected from this reserve. This means that you cannot collect shellfish, fish for squid or cuttlefish, collect any marine animals or plants from the shore, or collect empty shells. The removal of dead plants or animals is not permitted as they provide habitat and/or food for living organisms. Bait cannot be collected in the aquatic reserve.

Other than finfish, no marine plants or animals can be harmed in the aquatic reserve.

Please report illegal or suspect fishing activities to your nearest Fisheries Office or use the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536.

Long Reef Aquatic Reserve has been set aside for the protection of marine invertebrates and plants for more than 30 years. Please, do not turn over or move rocks as this disturbs and could kill the marine life that live there.

Guided Long Reef Walks

NSW Department of Primary Industries NSW Fishcare Volunteers offer free guided walks at Long Reef aquatic reserve.

Our dedicated team of Fishcare volunteers lead small groups onto safe sections of the reef for a firsthand experience of this unique environment. During the walk participants learn about:

  • marine animals and plants that make their home at this magnificent reserve
  • ancient rock formations that create the cliffs and rock platforms
  • prehistoric trace fossils
  • participants may also see some of the many migratory birds that travel tens of thousands of kilometres to spend their summers at Long Reef.

The guided walks are an ideal family outing and open to everyone to register.

An average walk lasts about two hours and requires a moderate level of fitness. They generally run over spring and summer so keep an eye out for the next one.

PLEASE NOTE - SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: The Fishcare volunteer guided walks at Long Reef Aquatic Reserve are currently on hold due to COVID -19 restrictions.

Explore the Aquatic Reserve

Long Reef

Views from the top of Long Reef headland show the extensive rocky shores of the aquatic reserve. Photo: Renata Pronk.

Long Reef

The southern side of Long Reef headland boasts wide, flat rock platforms and is a popular spot for fishing. Photo: Renata Pronk.

Long Reef

The visually stunning geological makeup of Long Reef headland is unique as it displays the oldest units of early Triassic sediments from the Narrabeen group. Photo: Renata Pronk.

Long Reef

Long Reef also displays the most environmentally complex sequence of rocks found anywhere in the Sydney basin, and this provides great habitat for marine plants and animals. Photo: Renata Pronk.

Long Reef

Fishermans Beach (in the distance of this photo) on the northern side of the headland is a relatively protected beach surrounded by rocky areas. It is popular for swimming, boating and snorkelling. Photo: Renata Pronk.

Long Reef

The reserve is regularly used by university students conducting research, here snails have been marked as part of a research project. Photo: Renata Pronk.

Getting there

You can get to the reserve from Pittwater Road and Anzac Avenue, Collaroy, near Long Reef Golf Course. Long Reef Headland provides extensive views of the coastline and you can get there via the coastal Greenlink walk.

Further information

Please contact us at marine.environment@dpi.nsw.gov.au.