Serendip Sanctuary: 10 Fun Reasons To Visit (We Did!)
There are no shortage of great things to do around Victoria, but one of our favourite places to head is Serendip Sanctuary just outside Lara.
With our 18-month-old in tow, we need places to explore that are both accessible and interesting and Serendip Sanctuary ticks all the boxes.
With a network of flat trails leading to everything from scenic grasslands (for Mummy and Daddy) to a ‘Roolympics’ jumping challenge (umm, also for Mummy and Daddy) there’s enough here to keep a small family occupied for a few hours.
So without further ado, here are my favourite things to do at Serendip Sanctuary (plus a little background information to get us started).
Serendip Sanctuary Opening Hours & Cost
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am-4pm.
- Entry Cost: Entry and parking are free.
- Location: About 5km off of the Princes Freeway (M1), 60km west of Melbourne. 100 Windermere Road, Lara.
Serendip Sanctuary Map
Below is a scan I took of the map at the entrance of Serendip Sanctuary which shows all the highlights on the routes.
The information board suggest taking a photo of this before you set off, but it’s waiting for you here now if you ever need it!
Things To Do At Serendip Sanctuary
1) Meet the Wildlife
When we first visited Serendip Sanctuary the enclosures were an unexpected surprise.
On the wildlife walk, you’ll find a few walk-in aviaries housing some beautiful birds and enclosures which have Pademelon, Quoll and reptiles. It certainly isn’t a full sanctuary like at Healesville Sanctuary or Moonlit Sanctuary but given we weren’t expecting anything at all it’s a real bonus.
There is also a large outside area that has Emu and Eastern Kangaroo along with the graceful Brolga.
These enclosures and wildlife areas make Serendip Sanctuary so much more than a trail walk and keeps the kids engaged. We love them!
2) Walk the Trails
There are five marked walking trails around Serendip Sanctuary with the longest at 3km and the shortest just under 1.5km.
The paths are all easy to use with few hills. we’ve pushed a pram around on a few occasions with no problems.
My favourite walk is definitely the wader walk, heading through the enclosures of the wildlife walk at the start and then out past the waterbirds at the dam and then our into the open grasslands beyond Lake Serendip.
3) Go Birdwatching
There are a huge number of birds recorded at Serendip Sanctuary with 199 species sighted according to the eBird website.
It is rare to walk around the sanctuary and not see someone with a huge camera lens stalking through the undergrowth, so this place must be pretty famous amongst the birding community.
On my latest visit in winter, I managed to spot an Emu (pretty easy!), Cape Barron Geese, Pied Currawong, Crimson Rosella, Raven, Stilt, Superb Fairy Wren and Cockatoo without having any specialist equipment.
There are also bird hides dotted around the sanctuary, with views are the lakes and marshland.
4) Have a Picnic
There is a large picnic area by the car park at the main entrance of the sanctuary.
With full facilities including electric barbecues and toilets, it’s a great reason to visit and many people come here just to sit and enjoy lunch with the family.
Many of the benches are in the shade, so even in summer, it’s a great place to stop off. If you’re lucky, you may get a visit from one of the local emus who often pop by to see who’s feeling generous.
5) Go Ponding
Ponding or pond dipping is a great activity to do with kids
It involves running a net through the water, picking up insects, grasses and larvae and putting it into a tray to see what you’ve got.
Usually, this is an activity that requires some forward planning, but at Serendip Sanctuary the work is done for you, as they have a ponding station set up ready-to-go with all the tools you need. Oh, and they provide the pond too!
The rules of ponding according to noticeboard are:
- Each person to have a bucket, net, white tray, ice-cube tray, plastic dish and plastic spoon (all provided).
- Spread out around the pond.
- Half fill the bucket with clean pond water.
- Sweep the net through the pond to see what you can collect.
- Put the contents of the net into the bucket. Repeat until you have some interesting mini beasts.
- Bring the specimens back to the shelter.
- Empty contents into a white tray.
- Select 3 or 4 invertebrates using the spoon and pop them into the ice-cube tray.
- Use the magnifying glasses and microscopes to examine them and compare them to the charts on the wall.
- Tip everything back into the pond when finished.
Our little girl loves playing by the pond, it’s one of her favourite things about coming here, a great addition to the sanctuary.
6) Jump Just Like a Kangaroo
Anyone with kids in Australia (or possibly anywhere on the planet!) will recognise the lyrics above, but no, it’s not what you’re thinking, there is no sign of Emma and the gang here.
What has been set up though is something called the ‘Roolympics’ where you can test your hopping skills against a kangaroo.
Let the ankle spraining commence!
7) Visit a Wet Arm…
One of the more confusing aspects of Serendip Sanctuary is that you go looking for the lake, think you’ve found it, but have actually discovered the ‘North Arm’.
An arm, in geographic terms, refers to a smaller body of water coming out of a larger one. Well don’t say you don’t learn anything on the website!
Personally, it’s one of my favourite places in the sanctuary, as there is always an abundance of waterbirds here, usually making one hell of a racket!
There are a couple of small bridges and a wooden boardwalk that take you past the water to the grasslands beyond.
8) …and a Dry Lake
Now you’ve seen my photos of the North Arm, I hope you can appreciate my confusion when it comes to Lake Serendip.
For a lake it’s kinda lacking on the water front, well at least it has been over the couple of years that we’ve been visiting.
According to the signage, Lake Serendip only fills once every 3-5 years and the photographs certainly make it look spectacular when it does.
We’ll be back when it is full, and hopefully, I snap some shots that will make this part of the post redundant!
I am a keen (but not necessarily talented!) amateur photographer (check me out @thesabbaticalguide) and this is one of the biggest reasons I love visiting Serendip Sanctuary.
There are so many good places to get photos here – from moody forest shots to close-ups of the birds, whether in the enclosures or out at the lake.
Pack your camera gear when you head and and regardless of the weather I promise you’ll find it worthwhile.
Recommended Reading: My Favourite Photography Gear
10) Meet Australia’s Heaviest Flying Bird
I know I’ve already covered wildlife in this post, but I love these big beaky guys so much I wanted them to have their own section.
The Australian Bustard is Australia’s heaviest flying bird and there are a couple kept here at Serendip Sanctuary on the walk out towards the pond.
They are striking birds and we love sitting and watching them when we visit here as they often come up to the fence to see exactly what’s going on.
I think they are special to me because they remind me of travels in Kruger National Park in South Africa as a kid where we’d see their cousin the Kori Bustard staking through the grasslands.
Photo Gallery of Serendip Sanctuary
Here are a few more photos of Serendip Sanctuary which I couldn’t find space to include elsewhere in the post.
I hope they give you a bit more feel for the place and inspire you to jump in the car and visit.
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