Lyell Deer Sanctuary
Located amongst the verdant 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 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 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.
You can buy a bag of deer pellets, feed the hungry mouths through the fence, then 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.
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. At our time of visiting, the male deer were in hard antler and at peak testosterone levels, so they were in a separate paddock for viewing but not touching. However, we were able to get in amongst the female and juvenile deer, who were curious and placid and seemed genuinely interested in who we were.
One of the latest additions to the herd is the gorgeous (although understandably a little cranky) female Ember, who was rescued as an orphaned fawn from the recent bushfires. You can learn all about this local hero with her soot-stained coat here.
As well as the deer, we also met Peggy the peahen, quietly overseeing the smooth running of reception, two gentle and docile cows who loved a cuddle, two playful and hungry goats, and a few chickens scratching about in the dirt. This really added to the experience and feeling of visiting a mini farm.
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.
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
- 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 for sale at the licensed bar
- Catering for groups if booked in advance, for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea (contact the sanctuary for groups’ menu or children’s party pricelist)
- 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)
The wonderful owners are keen to share with you 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.
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.
Admission at the time of this article being written is only $10 for a family or group of up to six people, which is ridiculously good value for an animal encounter like this. You can purchase bags of pellets for $1, and Eftpos is available.
The sanctuary is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm (drop-ins) and 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.
The Lyell Deer Sanctuary is available for group and coach bookings, school and childcare excursions, as well as children’s parties, weddings, conferences, craft groups and other gatherings.
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. During wet weather, entrance to these 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
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 contributions from the public to help them rescue as many deer as possible. If you wish to help, you can give a small donation for food or water here. Or you can take part in the ‘Deerest Friends’ sponsorship program and sponsor a deer or animal of your choice. This package also gives you lots of perks, such as free admission to the sanctuary, some 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.