Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre, Wembley
The Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre has reopened it’s doors to families. The Discovery Centre is a wildlife education centre based in Wembley on the edge of picturesque Herdsman Lake. The centre hosts school holiday adventures, after-school sessions, and a variety of family fun days. If your kids love Perth’s unique wildlife, you should definitely add the Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre to your to-do list!
As of September 2021, the Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre has had a revamp with new interactive exhibits. The resident animals have new enclosures and there are new programs to enjoy.
We attended a school holiday session called ‘Wetland Wonders’. The first part of this was a talk with one of the resident scientists, Mandy. This was interactive with the children and talked about how the Perth environment has changed over the years, especially for the frog species. Can you imagine how hard it must be for these creatures to go from forest areas back to wetlands to breed? Mandy explained the gauntlet these creatures have to run through to get from A to B. The children were then given a model with houses, roads, animals and other obstacles. This gave them a miniaturised experience of what the frogs deal with. It was a lot!
After that, the children split into a crafting group and an outdoor group. Miss 7 opted to go with the outdoor group first. This involved taking scoops from the lake with a large net. The contents of the net was then placed in a tray of water. We then examined the water to see what may have been caught. We had a magnifying glass, a slide and a ice tray to put samples in. Miss 7 found a few glass shrimp, water mites and water fleas. It was easy to see how the glass shrimp camouflaged themselves to stay safe from predators. Some kids actually caught some little introduced fish called gambusia or native shellfish called gigli. The glass slide meant the smaller critters could be examined more closely under a microscope. Miss 7 loved being able to see the wire worms, water mites and the shrimp better.
Following the scooping, Mandy and one of the Centre’s volunteers took the group for a nature walk. This took us around the front of the centre to begin with. Mandy stopped to point our birds and insects along the way. We briefly discussed native bees and how they lay their eggs. We walked further on down the path and boardwalk, with Mandy finding dragonfly nymph shells, and pointing out birds and spiderwebs. She explained the ‘mosquito fish’, the Gambusia, and how they came to be in Australia’s waterways.
Miss 7 asked lots of questions and chatted to both Mandy and another volunteer, Owen. Both were very approachable and happy to answer any questions about the lake, it’s wildlife and the surrounding environment.
Mandy needed to go grab the second group and take them for their nature walk. Meanwhile, most of our group continued on along the boardwalk. It’s a peaceful spot for a walk. It’s just you, the lake and the wildlife. We spotted a few birds, including nesting ducks and families of ducks with ducklings. The path and boardwalk isn’t too long here, and loops back to meet back up at the beginning near the Discovery Centre.
We’d suggest wearing closed in shoes, maybe put the kids in gumboots and older clothes, especially for walks at this time of year. Parts of the path were recently flooded from the spring rains and were a bit muddy.
On heading back to the Centre, Miss 7 opted to do some paper craft with the volunteers. She made an origami frog puppet to take home. After that, we then explored the indoor exhibits a little more. The lizards have shiny new enclosures. King George, the king skink, was very relaxed, while Spike, the thorny devil, was hoping for a snack. Spike came right down to the front of his enclosure to check if we had any food.
In addition to Spike and King George, there is a shingle back and a blue tongue lizard in a large enclosure. These guys were just chilling out under the lights. On the rear wall of the Centre, the resident oblong turtle was swimming up and down in it’s tank with two local species of frogs as neighbours. There is also a tank with gigli (yabbie like shellfish) and fish varieties from the lake adjacent to this.
More interactive exhibits are available to touch and explore. Move tabs on the walls to read wildlife facts or find pictures of different Herdsman Lake creatures. There’s boxes with examples of animals to explore and buttons to push to hear frog calls.
There is also a microscope and screen with slides containing items such as butterfly wings and dragonfly nymph shells. It’s a great way to see fine details more closely. The kids also seemed to enjoy using it to examine their hands.
Prior to the renovations there was an upstairs viewing area. This has been retained and the upstairs area refreshed. Miss 7 loved using the binoculars to look out over the lake and look for wildlife.
In addition to new exhibits, there is now a small gift shop and Twitchers Coffee window. The gift shop appears to have been set up in conjunction with Paper Bird, Children’s Books and Arts shop. It contains a colourful selection of books and toys. This doesn’t appear to be open yet. However, keep an eye on the website as we’re sure it’ll be available soon.
The coffee window sells items such as hot drinks, water and icy poles. This opens onto the lake at the back of the building. This is available to Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre visitors and anyone passing by.
In conclusion, our visit to the Discovery Centre was a great experience and the 2 hour session whizzed past! It was time to go get lunch before we knew it. We look forward to joining in a Family Nature Day or a similar session again in future.
Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre programs
Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre has a number of programs available for families. For littler ones, there is a Nature Playgroup program tailored for children aged between two and five years old. In our very digital heavy world, nature play for children has become more important than ever. This program gets children active while also building a connection and appreciation for the natural world. A 90 minute playgroup session may include storytelling, arts and crafts, a nature walk or some unstructured play.
For older children, there is Wildlife Wednesdays. This is suitable for ages five-14 years. The program runs after school from 3.30pm to 5pm and is rich in STEM and hands-on nature-based experiences. Activities may include nature walks, real-life problem solving, nature art and wetland ecology for example.
Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre also runs School Visits. There are programs available for kids from Kindergarten to Year 12. So, if nature is something your kids are passionate about, let your school know. Maybe they can arrange an excursion.
If you love the Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre as much as we do, perhaps consider a membership. Members receive admission to the centre, admission to monthly bird talks and family Nature Day events. They also receive variable discounts on holiday programs and other events. 12 month membership plans start at $25 for a child membership, or $70 for a family of up to four people.
Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre, Wembley
Located on the corner of Flynn and Selby Streets, Wembley.
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