Werribee: Flushing away the crappy reputation

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Werribee, located 30 odd kilometres south west of Melbourne, is well known by inner city dwellers for its prominent raw sewerage treatment farm (that accounts for roughly 60% of Melbourne’s crap). It’s also well known for its amazing open range zoo.

Located across 225 hectares of bushland and plains, this large expanse of land is home to a variety of mostly African animals. A safari tour is included in the admission price and runs for about 45 minutes.

The animals allowed to roam freely in the bushland are of the herbivorous variety; ones that won’t attack you or each other. Most of the other animals were also lazing about having a nice time in the morning sun. Umgana the rhinoceros looked particularly content surrounded by his entourage of three female rhinos. The giraffes were impressively tall and kids on the bus squealed with delight as they trotted alongside us on their way to a mid-morning brunch of leaves with leaves.

The animals who don’t roam the open plains at Werribee Zoo are kept in sizable enclosures with decent viewing areas for us Homo sapiens. The lions and the cheetahs were a pretty sleepy state, and who could blame them, it was before noon on a Saturday.  The African wild dogs were the liveliest animals of the day, exhibiting behaviour not unlike their hyena relatives in The Lion King, scampering about with tongues flapping and scrapping over bones for skerricks of meat.

When you’re done checking out the zoo you might as well make a day of it and visit the beautiful Werribee Park next door.  A 20 minute walk or two minute drive from the zoo, Werribee Park is the former estate of the stunning Werribee Park Mansion. Now owned by Parks Victoria, it encompasses Victoria State Rose Garden, a heritage orchard, an equestrian centre and the mansion itself.

The lush green surroundings are an ideal backdrop for a relaxing afternoon picnic and there’s plenty of space for those who enjoy a bit of privacy. I was there in the context of the Harvest music festival and the Park made for a very nice change from the dusty fields that festivals tend to take place in.

Werribee Zoo is open 9am-5pm seven days a week.

Werribee Park is open 10am-6:30pm (daylight savings time) seven days a week and is free to visit.

Werribee Park Mansion is open 10am-5pm (daylight savings time) seven days a week

Photo: Cat Drysdale

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