Community-based initiatives (CBIs) that build capacity and promote healthy environments hold promise for preventing obesity and non-communicable disease, however their characteristics remain poorly understood and lessons are learned in isolation. This limits understanding of likely effectiveness of CBIs; the potential for actively supporting practice; and the translation of community-based knowledge into policy. Building on an initial survey (2010), an online survey was launched (2013) with the aim to describe the reach and characteristics of Australian CBIs and identify and evaluate elements known to contribute to best practice, effectiveness and sustainability. Responses from 104 CBIs were received in 2013. Geographic location generally reflected population density in Australia. Duration of CBIs was short-term (median 3 years; range 0.2-21.0 years), delivered mostly by health departments and local governments. Median annual funding had more than doubled since the 2010 survey, but average staffing had not increased. CBIs used at least two strategy types, with a preference for individual behaviour change strategies. Targeting children was less common (31%) compared with the 2010 survey (57%). Logic models and theory were used in planning, but there was low use of research evidence and existing prevention frameworks. Nearly, all CBIs had an evaluation component (12% of budget), but dissemination was limited. This survey provides information on the scope and varied quality of the current obesity prevention investment in Australia. To boost the quality and effectiveness of CBIs, further support systems may be required to ensure that organizations adopt upstream, evidence-informed approaches; and integrate CBIs into systems, policies and environments.