Werribee Gorge State Park is nearly 70km by road from Melbourne CBD and eight kilometres from the township of Bacchus Marsh. Before the European arrival the area was inhabited by Wadawurrung and Wurrundjeri group of aborigines. Identified aboriginal cultural sites still exist in the area. Werribee is thought to derive from the aboriginal word, ‘Wearibi ‘meaning either swimming place or backbone.
On 20th May 1887, 130 acres of land close to Werribee Gorge was proclaimed in the Victorian Government Gazette as a site for water supply purposes. In the early 1900’s, a campaign was undertaken by Bacchus Marsh Tourist and Progress Association, which was formed in 1907, to declare the Gorge as a national park. As a result, in 1907 an area of 540 acres were proclaimed reserved for public purposes and the reserve was gazeted in January 1908, after revoking the earlier water supply reservation. A management Committee was appointed to care for the reserve under Lands Department. More land was added to the reservation in later years. Werribee Gorge State Park was reserved under schedule three of the National Parks Act on 16th May 1978 as a result of the National Parks (Amendment) Act 1978(Vic). 168 ha land was added to the park in 1979. 68ha of land purchased from J.D. Myers by the Government in 1981 enabled providing access road to the Gorge. In 1989, Werribee Gorge park became a State Park managed under the provision of the National Parks Act. In 1995, 200ha land was added to the Park. Today the park comprises an area of 575ha of land.
The Werribee Gorge was set aside for preservation for its geological features. This is an area that gives evidence of:
An ancient seabed, now uplifted and folded as can be seen in the cliffs of the Gorge
A huge ice sheet depositing a massive layer of debris on the eroded surface of the ancient, sealed sediments.
Basalt overlaying the earlier material but now eroded to expose 500 million years of geological history.
The fault line of the earth movement that accelerated the gradient, and therefore the eroding power of the Werribee River caused the Gorge to be formed. This is believed to have happened one million years ago.
This natural formation has attracted the attention of geologists to commoners and school children since the European settlement. Alfred Richard Cecil Selwyn, a British geologist and public servant was director of the Geological Survey of Victoria from 1852 to 1869. Selwyn’s survey of Bacchus Marsh area provided the first evidence of glacial period in Victoria.
Before the construction of Pykes Creek Dam in 1911, the Gorge area experienced seasonal floods which prevented vegetation growing along the river area.
Country Roads Board Quarry began operating in the area in 1972.
Walks at the park ( From Parks Victoria)
1 . Short Circuit Walk – 5km, 2 hours circuit
This track overlaps the eastern half of Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk, diverging near Eastern Viewpoint and heading down to the river and Meikles Point Picnic Area.
2 . Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk – 10km, 4.5 hours circuit
There are no shortcuts. Allow plenty of time and daylight. Walking anticlockwise will returns you riverside along the clearly signposted track. It is steep in places with rock scrambling along sections of river-track. Start at either the Quarry or Meikles Point Picnic Area. Excellent views are provided along the gorge rim. A 50m section of cable handrail is provided to assist walkers on tricky high angle rock above the river upstream from Meikles Point Picnic Area.
3 . Centenary Walk – 4km, 2.5 hours return
Start at Myers or Quarry Picnic Area Carparks. Follow Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk before diverging to the right and passing through open woodland to the bridge across Myrniong Creek. After crossing the creek there is a very steep climb to the top of the James Whyte Island Reserve rewarded with panoramic views.
Ironbark Gorge Walk – to Falcons Lookout – 3km, 2 hours return
Enter from the Ironbark Gorge Carpark on the Ballan-Ingliston Road. Follow the first section through the scenic Ironbark Gorge Walk before turning right onto Falcons Lookout Walk. Panoramic views of the gorge and beyond are your reward on this excellent walk.
Location: 204 Myers Rd, Pentland Hills VIC 3341
Rock Climbing is only permitted at Falcon’s Outlook
Picnic facilities are available at Meikles Point or Quarry Picnic Areas.
The area is prone to bush fires and the Park will be closed on Code Red Fire Danger rating days.