Located amongst the rolling green hills that surround the picturesque Samford Valley, less than 40 kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD, rests a wonderful little treasure of a place called Lyell Deer Sanctuary. For over thirty years, Lyell Deer Sanctuary has been a peaceful refuge for rescued deer, dedicated to deer welfare and appreciation.
There is an energy about a place filled with rescued animals who are thriving in their environment that instantly ignites gratitude and happiness in your heart when visiting, and Lyell Deer Sanctuary with its beautiful, gentle residents is sure to do just that.
What to expect at Lyell Deer Sanctuary
Lyell Deer Sanctuary is a beautiful hideaway set amongst stunning countryside at the foot of the eastern slopes of the D’Aguilar Range, just north of Samford Village. The sanctuary is a small, family-run establishment, so come with expectations of a couple of paddocks of beautiful deer and other animal haven on a residential acreage property, not an all-bells-and-whistles large-scale commercial zoo.
The sanctuary is a wonderful spot to visit and enjoy hand-feeding, petting and chilling out with the resident herd of deer. You can expect a lovely warm welcome from the family owners, as well as a wealth of insider knowledge about the fascinating animals that call the sanctuary home.
All visitors receive a bag of deer pellets to feed the hungry mouths through the fence, then you can wander in amongst the animals to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Other rescue animals are usually available to visit on-site too. When we were there, we saw ducks and chickens roaming around, an impressive peacock display and the children loved having the opportunity to snuggle some guinea pigs.
After hanging out with the animals, be sure to make time to enjoy a bite to eat from the small cafe or bring your own picnic to make the most of your day out.
Animals at Lyell Deer Sanctuary
Lyell Deer Sanctuary is home to a collection of red, rusa and fallow deer and several other rescued animals including ducks, chickens, cows, goats, guinea pigs and peacocks. At different times throughout the year, some of the male deer are in separate paddocks for viewing but not touching for the safety of visitors and the deer themselves.
With each animal comes its own story of past hardship or ongoing needs, and the heartwarming reality of now being safely and lovingly cared for as part of an amazing family.
Our favourite parts about our visit
While we loved the whole experience of our visit, we were particularly thrilled to see a male peacock showing off his full tail display to the entire car park when we arrived. We all loved being able to wander freely with the deer and there was a particularly mystical air on the day we visited thanks to some rain, which created a magical atmosphere.
Our 10 year old loved interacting with a newly rescued 1 month old deer who was residing near the entrance desk and stayed around the picnic area. Our 7 year old’s highlight was having the opportunity to feed, hold and pat the resident guinea pigs.
Facilities at Lyell Deer Sanctuary
Lyell Deer Sanctuary is only a small operation but has a number of helpful facilities to make your visit comfortable. These include:
- Off-road parking for a number of vehicles, and plenty of street parking
- An undercover, open-air area with a small cafe and tables and chairs
- Uncovered picnic tables for BYO picnics
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Cold drinks and ice blocks for sale at the licensed bar
- A simple play area for children with toys and books
- A gift shop with locally made and deer-themed merchandise
- Hand-washing facilities for after feeding and petting the animals
- Rubbish bins (especially for plastic litter as this is lethal if ingested by deer)
- Toilets (not wheelchair accessible)
The wonderful owners are keen to share their vast knowledge of their beautiful animals with visitors. While local councils consider them feral introduced pests, they lovingly cherish their “new Australians” and provide them with rescue and rehabilitation into this haven where they can live in care and safety. The opportunity to see such large and gentle animals up close provides a wonderful opportunity for Brisbane Kids to learn not just about deer, but a variety of animals and it opened up discussions about introduced species, conservation and rescuing animals with our children.
A table covered with antlers makes for a great interactive educational area for curious little minds, learning about how antlers grow and are shed. Visitors young and old will leave with a new sense of appreciation for these amazing creatures.
When we visited the admission prices were $10 for an adult, $5 for a child (ages 1-16) and $25 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. Additional children are $3 each. Deer pellets are included with entry and EFTPOS is available.
The sanctuary is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm (drop-ins) and also is often open additional days over school holidays – please check the Lyell Deer Sanctuary facebook page and website for up to date details. Generally they are open on weekdays by appointment only. The owners are careful about the volume of visitors, so you may need to wait for a short time if there are too many at the venue.
Accessibility and safety
The covered and uncovered seating areas are accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs, as is the area for feeding the deer and other animals through the fences. However, the paddocks themselves are sloped and may not be accessible and it’s advised to leave prams near the entrance and carry infants and toddlers. During wet weather, entrance to some areas may not be permitted.
All animals, especially those rescued from the wild, should be treated with care and respect. It is important to listen to and follow any safety information given on entry and to be careful to read the body language of animals so as not to overstep their personal boundaries. In addition, it is vital to ensure that no litter is left anywhere on the property. Even a tiny straw wrapper can blow into the paddock and be deadly to the animals, so vigilant care is needed.
How you can help
Visiting the sanctuary is a great way to help these beautiful creatures. The sanctuary has many overheads to ensure the ongoing care of their animals, including feed, hay, vet care, fencing and even water deliveries when the tanks are empty. As such they rely on entry fees and contributions from the public to help them rescue as many deer as possible. You can take part in the ‘Deerest Friends’ sponsorship program and sponsor a deer or animal of your choice. This package also gives you many perks, such as discounted admission to the sanctuary, gifts, and personal communication about your sponsored animal.
Lyell Deer Sanctuary is located at 6 Lyell Court, Mount Samson, Brisbane. You can visit lyelldeersanctuary.com.au for more information or call Kelly on 0411485156.
For another wonderful animal experience nearby, be sure to check out Trevena Glen Farm at 1100 Winn Road, Mount Samson.