Just ½ an hour west of Melbourne, Werribee Park is a living postcard of 19th century Australia. The 400 hectare heritage precinct is as beautiful today as it was when it was a family estate.
It has an amazing hotel, open range zoo, winery, polo fields, spa and the grand Werribee Mansion set amongst formal gardens. The Victoria State Rose Garden is shaped as a giant Tudor Rose and displays 5000 roses, many Australian bred, to perfection. There is also a heritage orchard growing old-time stock including peaches, grapes, apples, pears and walnuts.
Shadowfax Winery is another attraction on the grounds. The award-winning winery produces premium wines and offers tasting and cellar door sales.
It is also home to the Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre, a whimsical sculpture walk and a natural riverine with plants of the Kkurung Jang Balluk clan which lived on the Werribee River. With all that to enjoy, I think it’s a wonderful place for a family break.
The exquisite 60-room sandstone mansion was built in the Italianate-style favoured by wealthy sheep graziers of the day. Its Victorian period interiors are as inspiring today as they were in 1877. The mansion was the estate of Scottish-born squatters Thomas and Andrew Chirnside, who developed much of what would become western Melbourne. They arrived in Australia with just a few pounds and lots of enthusiasm.
The Mansion is surrounded by ten hectares of formal gardens, thanks to WR Guilfoyle, Curator of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. A feature is a parterre, a geometric design best admired from the mansion balcony. A pond and original grotto remain in the grounds which are superbly maintained, and there is no trouble finding a shaded spot to stop and enjoy the peace.
Many functions and events are held there during the year, including the Autumn Harvest Festival and concerts. Elton John has performed there.
Behind Werribee Mansion in a separate wing is the Mansion Hotel and Spa. The luxurious hotel offers five star accommodation with day spa and restaurant for a luxurious getaway.
It was St Joseph’s Seminary from 1926 to the 1970s, and when the Catholic Church moved out, they sold it to the Victorian Government which transformed it into the award winning hotel.
The fifty-one heritage rooms maximise space while maintaining strict heritage guidelines. Most rooms contain many of the original family’s belongings.
The purpose-built Spa Wing offers forty larger suites cleverly combining history with modern comforts. Directly underneath is a 17 metre heated pool, gymnasium, steam rooms and spa. Eight treatment rooms offer blissful relaxation – and the great news is that non-guests are able to enjoy the facilities.
Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar offers modern European cuisine using much local produce. There are around 200 wines to accompany meals. The bar is the perfect place for guests to soak up the atmosphere while enjoying a cocktail, glass of wine or boutique beer. Joseph’s is open for lunch and dinner.
Werribee, ½ an hour from Melbourne.
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