Werribee and Surrounds has a rich living cultural heritage dating back tens of thousands of years. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Wadawurrung and Bunurong who have, and always will, belong to the Werribee Yalook (river), creeks, stars, hills and red clay of this Country.
Like many places across Australia, European settlement and the arrival of pastoralists, changed the region dramatically. Werribee and Surrounds’ history is also entwined with the history of aviation in Australia, military service and post-war migration from Europe. Today the region is one most the most diverse in the state – with 50% of residents born overseas.
Werribee Park Mansion
You could spend a whole day exploring the stunning interiors and grounds of Werribee Park Mansion, built in the 1870s by Scottish pastoralists, Thomas and Andrew Chirnside.
Allow time to explore the beautifully preserved interiors as well as the gardens, which include an ornamental lake and grotto, bluestone farm buildings and a heritage orchard, that still bears some of the fruit originally cultivated for the Chirnside family.
Lean into the experience with scones and lashings of jam and cream at The Refectory Parlour or Joseph’s Dining or keep exploring with a visit the original bluestone Chirnside Woolshed within Werribee Open Range Zoo.
From Werribee Park Mansion it’s also just short walk to Werribee’s Old Bluestone Ford. Built in 1835, it was the first crossing of Werribee River between Melbourne and Geelong.
Where Old Meets New on Watton Street
The Werribee District Historical Society and Museum (open on Tuesdays and Saturdays) is a great place to start. Chat to passionate volunteers and about the region’s rich history and explore the building itself. Completed in 1890s, this Edwardian building was formerly the region’s Shire Hall and office until 1976. Just outside, you’ll find a beautifully restored Australia Post box dating back to the 1860s!
At the corner of the Watton Street and Cherry street, take time to admire the Watton Street Weighbridge in Troup Park – once a busy site for local farmers and the nearby chaff mill.
Look up and you’ll spot an old water tower in the distance. Built in 1914, the concrete tower has been transformed with a huge mural by Hayden Dewar. The views are particularly good from Rosana Bar + Bistro!
Hungry? Grab brunch at Chatterbox Café and admire the original exteriors of Chatterbox Café and neighbouring real estate office. Dating back to 1912 these sites have formerly been home to the Colonial Bank, Douglas Cafe, a tobacconist and fruiterer.
You’ll also be in fine company if you stop in for a drink at the art deco Bridge Hotel. This corner block has been a popular watering hole since 1855, with the current iteration, Bridge Hotel built in the 1920s.
Take a walk along the Werribee River Trail to find Bungies Hole. Shrouded in myth, this deep waterhole was used as Werribee’s first swimming pool. There’s still speculation as to how it got its name, but a map from 1845 shows the site marked Budgel Carnie’s hole as well as the ‘famed resort of the bunyip’!
Lovely Little River
Little River has a number of heritage gems including the bluestone Rothwell Bridge (also famous for its appearance in Mad Max), Little River Railway Station, St Michaels Catholic Church, the Little River Mechanics Institute (the oldest continuous mechanics institute in Australia) which also features collections from The Little River Historical Society and Little River Bed and Breakfast – built in the 1840s as a rest stop for travellers on the Geelong-Melbourne road.
Your road trip playlist is also sorted – this is the place that inspired the name of the iconic Little River Band in the 1970s!
Aviation buff? Visit the B-24 Liberator hanger – where volunteers are painstakingly restoring one of only eight remaining Liberator aircraft in the world!
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the re-opening of the free RAAF Museum in late 2022, with new exhibition spaces and displays.
See Werribee Park Mansion come to life after dark, with the immersive theatre production, What Was That?
If you like your history with a side of spookiness, join Twisted History on a Werribee Park Paranormal Investigation Tour or brave a Point Cook Homestead Ghost Tour with Lantern Ghost Tours.