Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary


Serendip Wetlands Education Facility

Serendip Sanctuary is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Wadawurrung Peoples. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Wadawurrung Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country. 

Serendip Sanctuary is a wildlife oasis close to Melbourne where you can see kangaroos, wallabies, emus and a huge variety of birdlife. The sanctuary is a protected home to hundreds of native animals, including rare and endangered species.

Serendip Sanctuary is a great place to enjoy a family day trip near Geelong. The sanctuary showcases the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains, making it an ideal spot to see birdlife and learn about wetlands ecology.

Visit the bird hides to see some of the 150 bird species that breed at, or visit, Serendip Sanctuary. Birds can be seen within metres of the viewing areas as they preen, feed, incubate eggs and rear young. The Wildlife Walk is a popular walk where you can experience close encounters with wildlife.

Relax and enjoy a picnic or barbecue at the picnic area near the main car park. Facilities include free electric barbecues, a picnic shelter with tables and seats, drinking water, and toilets with access for people with limited mobility.

Serendip Sanctuary wildlife tour

Come on a tour of Serendip Sanctuary with our Education Officer Vanessa Wiggenraad. Meet some of the amazing native species of the Volcanic Western Plains, including the Bearded Dragon and Spotted Tail Quoll. Find out what Parks Victoria is doing to protect some of Victoria’s most threatened species. 

Things to do

Three emus walk together in the grasslands at Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Wildlife walks at Serendip Sanctuary

See kangaroos, wallabies, emus and a huge variety of birdlife in their natural habitat as you explore the wildlife walks at Serendip Sanctuary.

Guided wildlife tours

Join Serendip’s Volunteer Park Guides on a free Wildlife Tour of Serendip Sanctuary. Serendip Wildlife Tours will allow visitors to learn all about the habitats and wildlife of the Western Volcanic Plains. Participants will explore wetlands and grasslands and get close encounters with animals such as kangaroos, emus, brolgas and tawny frogmouths. The tours are free and run every Saturday twice daily over summer. Bookings are essential.
A ranger and a group of primary school children lookout at the wetlands enclosure at Serendip Sanctuary.

Education excursions

Serendip Sanctuary's curriculum-based education program offers students an excellent opportunity to learn about the wetland and grassy woodland habitats of Victoria's Western Volcanic Plains, as well as the captive breeding of endangered native animals. An Education Officer can deliver a range of activities that are adapted to meet the specific Victorian Curriculum standards and VCE outcomes (fees apply for education services). For bookings, please contact 13 1963.
Children walk through Serendip Sanctuary to feed animals during a Junior Ranger Program.

Junior Ranger program

Serendip Sanctuary runs a Junior Ranger program during school holidays. The Junior Ranger program encourages kids to explore Victoria’s amazing parks with a park ranger. Visit the Junior Rangers website for more information on the program.
Father and son bird watching on boardwalk

Bird watching

From bushland to wetlands and everything in between, parks provide habitat to an abundance of common and rare bird species. Go for a wander and see how many you can spot.
Three friends enjoy a picnic on the grass in front of the historic Wallace Hut.


Head outdoors for lunch in the warmer months and enjoy a picnic in some of nature's most relaxing and inspiring settings.

Flora at Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip is a part of the Western Volcanic Plains and was home to grassland, wetland and grassy-woodland communities. In the 1880s the European settlers arrived in the area and built a farm on the property. All the grasslands disappeared, and wildlife left the area. The property became public land in the 1950s. Since then Serendip has re-created a range of habitats etc.

Since  1959 Serendip has re-created a range of habitats which has seen the number of animal species increase from 40 (with few breeding) to over 150 today (with over 60 breeding). The sanctuary has also demonstrated the compatibility of farming and wildlife.

The birds at Serendip are there because the wetlands and grassy woodlands provide habitat for them. These wetlands are part of a larger number of wetlands in the region. As many wetlands have been modified or drained and no longer provide habitat, these remaining wetlands are important conservation areas.

Serendip has many different wetland types, each with its own characteristics. The shallow freshwater wetland is ephemeral and dries out every two to three years unless it receives a flow of water from the You Yangs water catchment. The marshland at Serendip has channels of varying depths designed to cater for a range of waterbird species. Trees such as River Red Gums and wattles around Lake Serendip attract different species of birds. Finally, the North Arm of Lake Serendip is an example of a permanent open water wetland.

Native grass and herb species used for revegetating Serendip include various acacias, eucalypts, casuarina, Tussock grass (Poa labillardieri), Common Wallaby Grass (Danthonia caespitosa), Windmill Grass (Chloris truncata), and Common Everlasting (Chrysocephalum apiculatum).

Wildlife at Serendip Sanctuary

More than 150 bird species common to the Western Plains of Victoria have been recorded at Serendip Sanctuary.

Look for Cape Barren Geese and Magpie Geese in the shallow, freshwater wetland, and many ducks, White-faced Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Black Swans and grebes in and around the marshland.

Honeyeaters and wattlebirds feed on nectar and insects in the trees around Lake Serendip and Whistling and Black Kites soar up above looking for small prey on the ground.

The Billabong provides habitat for various ducks, swamphens and moorhens and attracts other food for the birds such as frogs, water rats and snakes. The North Arm permanent wetland is more reliable for fish populations, providing food for fishing birds like pelicans and cormorants. Keep watch for Chestnut Teal, Yellow-billed Spoonbills and flocks of White Ibis flying about preparing to roost in the trees around the permanent wetland each night.

Australian Bustards and Bush Stone-curlew are two rare Victorian birds that were once common on the Western Plains and now find a protected home at Serendip. Brolgas (Grus rubicundus) and Australian Bustards (Ardeotis australis) were chosen for the captive breeding program at Serendip, designed to rehabilitate species that have become rare or extinct on the Western Plains. The success of the captive breeding program has received international recognition.

Australia’s rarest waterfowl, the Freckled Duck, and the most secretive of owls, the endangered Masked Owl, are now also on display at the Sanctuary.

Serendip also provides habitat for a variety of mammal species including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Black Wallabies and Pademelons, now extinct in the wild in Victoria.

This area is well known for its wildlife. Keep an eye out for Tawny Frogmouths, Bush Stone-curlews, Australian Bustards, Freckled Ducks, Inland Bearded Dragon, Brolga, Cape Barren Goose, along with:


Tours and adventure experiences in parks

One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.

Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more. 

Licensed Tour Operators know all the best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

Serendip Wetlands Education Facility

Serendip Sanctuary is located at 100 Windermere Road, Lara. It is at the base of the You Yangs, 60km from Melbourne and 22km north of Geelong. It is signposted from the Princes Highway.

Serendip Sanctuary is open every day from 8.00am-4.00pm, but is closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday.

When to go

Need to know

Serendip Wetlands Education Facility

Change of Conditions

Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.

  • Serendip Sanctuary Picnic Area (Serendip Wetlands Education Facility)

    Group wood BBQ retired

    The group wood BBQ is being decommissioned and is unavailable for use.

  • Notices Affecting Multiple Sites

    The future of Serendip Sanctuary – You Yangs Master Plan 2022

    The future of Serendip Sanctuary – You Yangs Master Plan 2022

    Located on Wadawurrung Country, Serendip Sanctuary is part of the You Yangs precinct. A special place for many including significant natural and cultural values. People have been visiting and living in this area for over 30,000 years. Showcasing open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains, this area is an ideal spot to view birdlife and enjoy its significant wetland ecosystems. The sanctuary also provides visitors the opportunity for close encounters with Australian native wildlife including emus, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, echidnas and reptiles. 

    What is the You Yangs Precinct Master Plan? 
    As visitor numbers continue to increase annually, the importance of communities connecting with nature is going to be more important than ever.  In partnership with Regional Development Victoria, a master plan was developed for the You Yangs precinct, that aims to protect and enhance the natural and cultural values, while also identifying new facilities, infrastructure and unique experiences that can be offered to establish the area as a leading visitor destination.   
    The future of Serendip Sanctuary has been developed in consultation with the community as part of the master planning process from 2019-21.  The plan has been developed in consultation with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and aligns with its Paleert Tjaara Dja Let’s make Country good together 2020-2030 – Wadawurrung Country Plan. 
    All initiatives in the plan still require detailed assessment, planning and funding. 
    What does this mean for Serendip? 
    Serendip Sanctuary will continue to be a popular visitor and education destination.  Parks Victoria will explore the role Serendip can play supporting threatened species management and improving the offer to visitors who wish to enjoy the picnic facilities, walking tracks and viewing wild native animals in their natural habitat. 

    What will happen to the animals?  
    To gain better conservation outcomes for Victoria, Parks Victoria will focus on threatened species management with other organisations that lead species recovery programs. Partnerships in this area include Zoos Victoria, Mt Rothwell – Biodiversity Interpretation Centre and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.  The common captive animals that are currently housed at Serendip, will be rehomed to appropriate organisations that can provide onsite facilities that are compliant for the health and care of the animals.  Wild native wildlife in Serendip will continue to roam in their natural environment.  The sanctuary is naturally home to a large variety of wildlife, including over 200 species of birds, and a variety of mammals and reptiles. 

    What will happen to the education program? 
    Parks Victoria’s Education Rangers will continue to provide and invest in education programs and Junior Ranger experiences for local schools, community groups and park visitors.  
    Further information 
    For further information about the You Yangs Precinct Master Plan visit 

Contact Serendip Sanctuary

100 Windermere Road
Lara VIC 3212
13 1963
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