The build is robust and the limbs are relatively short. Maximum length is around 6 cm. The back is brown to dark grey with a mottling of white or grey (no yellow as in moaning frogs). Pale coloured tubercles (bumps) are usually present on the lower flanks. Males possess the nuptial spines that the similar-looking moaning frog males lack.
The males, like all members of the genus Heleioporus, burrow in low lying areas which become inundated after autumn and winter rains. Males call from within the burrow to attract females after which eggs are deposited at the bottom of the burrows in damp soil. Rising water levels of swamps and creeks caused by rain eventually flood the burrows allowing the newly developed tadpoles wriggle free of the egg mass and swim out of the burrow. Males only call for a month or so after the first rains in autumn.
A short high-pitched "put put put put." repeated frequently. Sounds like a speeded-up whooping frog call and has been likened to an outboard motor.
The eggs masses of this species are white and foamy. As many as 200 eggs may be laid in a burrow.
Sand frog tadpoles grow to 5 cm with the tail only one and a half times body length. The body is dark brown to pale grey with a series of thin, light coloured lines on either side. Froglets metamorphose in September and October.
This species can form choruses near other Heleioporus species, but prefers sandy soils.