Werribee Park Mansion
Image courtesy of Parks Victoria
Werribee Park is a historical building estate in Werribee, Victoria, Australia.
The Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre, the Werribee Open Range Zoo, a modern sculpture trail, and a natural riverine are attractions. The Mansion Hotel and Conference Centre is also nearby. In 1973, the Victoria State Government purchased the park. In 1977, it became a tourist attraction. Parks Victoria manages it. On April 1, 1987, the home and its related building amenities and gardens were added to the Victorian Heritage Register.
The pioneering pastoralists Thomas Chirnside (1815-1887) and his brother Andrew Chirnside (1818-1890), founders of the “Chirnside Pastoral Empire,” built Werribee Park Mansion in the Italianate style between 1874 and 1877. Big farm labour was supported by its residential and working buildings. The billiard room, the main bedrooms, the reception rooms, and a portion of the kitchen are all open to the public.
After Thomas Chirnside committed suicide in 1887, his brother Andrew Spencer Chirnside and his sons took over the Werribee and estates. When Andrew Chirnside died of heart disease in 1890, he bequeathed his jewellery and other personal belongings to his wife, Mary Chirnside (née Begbie), for the rest of her life and subsequently to his sons, George Thomas Chirnside and John Percy Chirnside. Andrew Chirnside also left his wife a £10,000 bequest and a £5000 annuity to be paid out every six months for the rest of her life. Finally, Andrew Chirnside left his interest in the Werribee Park and Point Cook Estates and all of the other property of Andrew Chirnside & Sons to his sons. George Chirnside acquired Werribee Park Mansion and the adjacent properties, while John Percy, the younger brother, inherited the rocky stone land over the railway line. As a result, when Percy bought land and had Hamilton build “The Manor” in 1895–1896, George obtained a court order prohibiting Percy from using the word “Werribee” in the name of his new mansion.
Werribee Park Mansion was a Catholic seminary, Corpus Christi College, from 1923 to 1973. During that time, the wings that are now the Mansion Hotel were constructed.
The estate was used to film episodes set in England for the television series The Genie From Down Under in 1996. The Pirate Movie, starring Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins, was filmed in some of the house’s rooms. The Devil’s Playground, a 1976 film, featured the mansion.
The Werribee Park Mansion featured two Elton John concerts as part of his Rocket Man Solo Tour in December 2007.
The Werribee Christmas Carols event, the harvest festival, the polo championships, and, since 2013, the Let Them Eat Cake music festival have all taken place on the Werribee Mansion Grounds.
The Werribee Park Heritage Orchard is a historic orchard that dates back to the 1870s. Peaches, grapes, apples, quinces, pears, a variety of plums, other fruits, and walnuts and olives were famous. The orchard had been forgotten for decades and had fallen into disrepair due to neglect. This historical treasure was recently uncovered. Some old heritage fruit varieties, primarily quince, pear, and apple, have survived. In 2010, a community group was founded to care for the orchard in collaboration with Parks Victoria.
Werribee Park Heritage Orchard has the following goals:
- To support the orchard and raise public knowledge about it.
- To help with the orchard’s preservation and enhancement and specific projects, the group was chosen in cooperation with Parks Victoria and other key partners.
- People who have an interest in the orchard should be involved.
Equestrian Centre National
The Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre is a world-class venue for equestrian competitions such as Equitana and the World Polo Championships. It was designated as the designated State Centre for Equestrian Activity in 1984. The Victorian Polo Association and the Victorian section of Equestrian Australia used it before 1992 when the Werribee Park Corporation operated it. The Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre Inc. leased the site for 21 years in 1992. Representatives from these two organizations make up this group. At the Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre, Prince Charles used to play polo.
Zoos Victoria manages three zoos, including the Werribee Open Range Zoo. It includes African animals like rhinos, giraffes, antelopes, zebras, lions, and hippos.
Shadowfax Vineyard and Winery, located on the grounds of Werribee Park, produces a diverse range of wines from their Macedon vineyards. They used to make the One Eye Shiraz, a wine manufactured from the oldest Shiraz vines in the Cambrian soil of Heathcote.