Coordinates: Werribee Park is the estate of a historical building in Werribee, Victoria, Australia. It includes Werribee Park Mansion, the Victoria State Rose Garden, formal gardens, the Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre, the Werribee Open Range Zoo, a contemporary sculpture walk and a natural riverine which is being grown with the plants of the Kurung Jang Balluk clan who lived on Werribee River. There is also the Mansion Hotel and Conference Centre. The Park was purchased by the Victoria State Government in 1973. It was opened as a tourist attraction in 1977. It is run by Parks Victoria.
Werribee Park Mansion
Werribee Park Mansion was built between 1874 and 1877 in the Italianate style by the pioneering pastoralists Thomas Chirnside (1815-1887) and his brother Andrew Chirnside (1818-1890), from Scotland, founders of the "Chirnside Pastoral Empire". Its residential and working buildings supported a large farm workforce. The rooms open to the public include the billiard room, the main bedrooms, the reception rooms and part of the kitchen.
In 1887 Thomas Chirnside committed suicide, when his brother Andrew Spencer Chirnside then took over the running of the Werribee and all the holdings along with his sons. When Andrew Chirnside died in 1890 of heart disease, his jewellery and other personal items were left to his wife, Mary Chirnside (née Begbie), for the term of her life and then to his sons, George Thomas Chirnside and John Percy Chirnside. In addition, Andrew Chirnside bequeathed to his wife a legacy of £10,000, and also an annuity of £5000 during her life to be paid out to her every six months. Lastly, Andrew Chirnside devised to his sons all his interest in the Werribee Park and Point Cook Estates and all the other property of the partnership firm of Andrew Chirnside & Sons. One son, George Chirnside, inherited Werribee Park Mansion and surrounding lands while the younger brother, John Percy, inherited the rocky stone land above the railway line. Not surprisingly, this led to ill feelings, and when Percy purchased land and had Hamilton build "The Manor" in 1895-1896, George took out a court order to prevent Percy from using the word "Werribee" when naming his new mansion.
In 1996 episodes set in England, of the television series The Genie From Down Under were shot at the mansion. Also. most rooms in the house were used for an American-based film called The Pirate Movie, starring Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins from The Blue Lagoon. The mansion was also used in the 1976 film The Devil's Playground.
Every year the Werribee Mansion Grounds are used to host the Werribee Christmas Carols event, the harvest festival, and the polo championships.
Werribee Park Heritage Orchard
Werribee Park Heritage Orchard is a beautiful antique orchard dating from the 1870s. It was renowned for its peaches, grapes, apples, quinces, pears, a variety of plums and several other fruits, as well as walnuts and olives. Over the past few decades the orchard was forgotten and - through neglect - fell into ruin. Recently this historic treasure was rediscovered. Some of the old heritage fruit varieties survive - mainly quince, pear and apple. In partnership with Parks Victoria a community group was formed in 2010 to look after the orchard.
The aims of Werribee Park Heritage Orchard are:
- To provide support for and to foster public awareness of the orchard.
- To assist with the preservation and enhancement of the orchard and with special projects selected by the group in consultation with Parks Victoria and other major stakeholders.
- To involve people with an interest in the orchard.
Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre
The Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre is an international standard sporting facility for equestrian events, including Equitana and the World Polo Championships. It was officially opened in 1984 as the designated State Centre for equestrian activity. Before 1992, it was operated by the Werribee Park Corporation and was used by the Victorian Polo Association and the Victorian branch of Equestrian Australia. In 1992, the facility was leased for 21 years to the Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre Inc. This association comprises representatives of these two bodies. Prince Charles once played polo at the Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Located on the grounds of Werribee Park, Shadowfax Vineyard and Winery produces a wide range of wines including the One Eye Shiraz, a wine produced from the oldest Shiraz vines in Heathcote's Cambrian soil.
- Parks Victoria Werribee Park web page
- Townson, John, John Bell Chirnside (1833-1902): His Life, Family and Descendants, 2009
- Further reading see: Ronald, Heather B., Wool Past the Winning Post: A History of the Chirnside Family, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1978
- Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre web page
- Werribee Open Range Zoo web page
- Shadowfax Winery web page
- The Weekend Australian, 25–26 February 2006, Travel 3.