Wildlife Land Trust / Sanctuaries / QLD / Serendipity Retreat

Peter Burke and Lisbet Dean are the owners of Serendipity Retreat, a property located approximately 35km west of Noosa. The property is a residence and dedicated wildlife sanctuary, and it is Peter and Lisbet’s intent to permanently conserve the inherent ecological values of the land and return the site back to its pre-clearing condition with native flora species suitable as habitat for native fauna. To this end they have so far planted 1,150 trees, and plan to create corridors of differing ecosystems to enable seasonal and diurnal migratory fauna movements within catchments.

A Voluntary Conservation Agreement (VCA) covering 3.32 hecatres of Serendipity Retreat was signed with the Sunshine Coast Council in 2012, and Peter and Lisbet extended the associated Environmental Management Plan to a further 1.5 hectares of land which they lease. Two neighbours have also implemented such VCAs, creating a contiguous area of 112 hectares of protected land for wildlife.

The 5.5 hectare property forms a part of a core wildlife corridor that extends along Black Mountain Range, linking lowland areas in the Mary Valley with upland areas. More than 80 flora species were identified prior to plantings extending that number to 102, with the three vegetation groups of Serendipity Retreat being: Open Eucalypt Forest predominantly comprised of spotted gum; Notophyl Rainforest (identified as a Regional Ecosystem); and Regrowth Wattle.

Threatened examples of the more than 50 wildlife species (27 of which are birds) so far identified as occurring on Serendipity Retreat include koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) and tusked frogs (Adelotus brevis). Peter and Lisbet have commenced barbed-wire removal from the property boundaries in an effort to increase the suitability of habitat for and safety of the wildlife present.

This sanctuary is featured in Wildlife Lands 15!

Accidentally stumbling across our dream property (we read the map incorrectly) was serendipitous indeed. When we stopped the car on nothing more than a dirt track and saw ‘for sale’ on the front fence and heard the sound of whipbirds in the forest, we looked at each other and said “this is perfect.” 

Every day we’ve been here we’ve learnt something, seen something new, or have just enjoyed seeing nature return to an ever evolving habitat for the creatures that live here or are just passing through. Even when the mangoes fall from the old tree near the house, a red-necked wallaby ventures up the hill in the evening and early morning to seek her share of the fallen fruit. Our neighbours share a similar philosophy to us and our three properties form a contiguous and significant protected wildlife corridor, which houses many species from the noisy pitta to koalas and their young high in the grey gums.

We are becoming increasingly active in monitoring wildlife behavior and activity at Serendipity Retreat. Since March 2013 we have planted 1,150 trees on parts of the property previously cleared. The species have been carefully selected to match the existing ecosystems identified on the site, notably Open Eucalypt Forest and the Notophyl Rainforest. We have also chosen to include a larger number of koala food trees to provide for them in years to come. 

The morning is one of the busiest times at Serendipity Retreat. Bird calls start just as the first specks of light appear on the horizon. Our guests are always amazed at the chatter of the lorikeets, king parrots, pale-headed rosellas, noisy pittas, channel-billed cuckoos, and the everlasting song of the wonga pigeons throughout the day. As dusk falls the more visible creatures take cover from the night. The frogs take up the quiet, including endangered tusk frogs down near the dam. There are also the calls of the sooty owl and the southern boobook that break the evening peace. We hope to create a lasting legacy to bring nature back to where it rightfully belongs in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.