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Werribee Suburb Profile

Werribee Suburb Profile

Werribee is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 32 km south-west of Melbourne's Central Business District. Its Local Government Area is the City of Wyndham. At the 2011 Census, Werribee had a population of 37,737.

Werribee is situated on the Werribee River, approximately halfway between Melbourne and Geelong, on the Princes Highway. It is the administrative centre of the City of Wyndham Local Government Area and is the City's most populous centre. Werribee is considered part of the Greater Melbourne metropolitan area and is included in the capital's population statistical division.

Since the 1990s the suburb has experienced rapid suburban growth into surrounding greenfield land, and becoming a commuter town in the Melbourne-Geelong growth corridor. Due to this urban sprawl Wyndham and its suburbs have merged into the Melbourne conurbation.

It was established as an agricultural settlement in the 1850s, originally named Wyndham and was renamed Werribee (derived from the aboriginal name meaning "backbone" or "spine") in 1904.

The suburb is best known for its major tourist attractions, which include the former estate of wealthy pastoralist Thomas Chirnside, known as Werribee Park and the Werribee Open Range Zoo.


The name Werribee is an aboriginal name meaning "backbone" or "spine". It is thought that this name was given as the shape of the Werribee River valley and the landscape look like a backbone.[citation needed] The Werribee River seems to have provided a boundary between the territories of the Woiwurong aborigines to the north east and the Wothowurong to the south west, although other tribal groups visited the area. One of these tribes was the Yawangi tribe, whose last survivor "King" Bill Leigh died on Wooloomanata Station (on the Geelong side of the You Yangs) in 1912.

Early leasing of pastures was led by members of John Batman's Port Phillip Association. A rural township began in the early 1850s. This village was named Wyndham (the name of the local Municipality today). The name derived from a suggestion by the owner of a local village inn, Elliott Armstrong, who sought to honour Scottish soldier Sir Henry Wyndham. The Post Office opened on 12 January 1858 as Wyndham and was renamed Werribee in 1904. However, its adjacent river was called the Werribee River, and the town's name was later changed to Werribee in 1884, and the Shire Council at that time was also renamed Werribee in 1909.

Werribee at this time was very popular for development. Thomas Chirnside, a person famous in this area even today, was attracted to the open plain's suitability for agricultural uses. By 1863 he controlled more than 280 square kilometres around Werribee. Chirnside bought other smaller holdings of land at this time. The town grew steadily, helped by a railway line from Melbourne to Geelong, with a station at Werribee in 1857. A religious school was opened in 1855 but was replaced by a public school in 1861. A Catholic church was also opened in the same year.

On October 10 1862, the first Local Council – the Wyndham Road District – was started, but it was replaced by a Shire Council in 1864.[citation needed] The Shire was huge, extending from the inner suburbs of Melbourne to Little River to the northward town of Melton and covering 715 square kilometres.
Between 1860 and 1890, Werribee had two epicentres, the township and Werribee Park Mansion, owned by Chirnside. In 1878 a mansion was built and completed in Werribee Park, a major landmark today. Chirnside's brother Andrew also started to acquire land around Werribee, enlarging the area to nearly 400 square kilometres.

Thomas Chirnside committed suicide in 1887. He was found dead in the laundry at Werribee Park with a shotgun lying beside him. His brother Andrew died three years later, and the property was now divided between Andrew's two sons. A new mansion was built, called "The Manor" (not in the same place as the current suburb of Manor Lakes).

In 1881 a quarter of the Shire's population lived in the Werribee Township. There were hotels there, as well as recreational venues such as the Werribee Racecourse (built in 1879) as well as the Mechanics' Institute (built in 1883).



Werribee's town centre and its Civic Centre (council offices) are located adjacent to the Princes Highway, known locally as Synnot Street. Major local arterial roads Derrimut Road and Old Geelong Road (as an extension of Morris Road) connect the highway to the City of Wyndham's north, as does Cherry Street. Ballan Road is the major arterial to Wyndham's north-west.

The CBD also links with the Princes Freeway via Duncans Road to the south-east, and via Geelong road (the continuation of the Princes Highway) to the south west. The Princes Freeway circumvents the township via a section known as the Maltby Bypass.

Public Transport

There are two major railway stations in the area - Werribee railway station and Hoppers Crossing railway station to the east, both part of the Melbourne metropolitan network. Werribee Station is the terminus of the Werribee line, but also a stop for VLine services to and from Geelong.

A disused station exists on the line near Werribee Racecourse, which at times has had calls to be reopened. Additionally, tracks have been left spread apart for a future station near Derrimut Road. Further suburban stations in the area are also proposed as part of the Regional Rail Link to be joined with the regional rail network.

An extensive bus network links Werribee with neighbouring suburbs, with major bus interchanges at Werribee Station, Werribee Plaza and Hoppers Crossing Station.

Werribee is located in fare Zone 2.


Primary education

Provided by numerous public, private and Catholic schools, some of which are combined with secondary education as one P-12 college.

  • Werribee Primary
  • St Andrews Primary
  • Corpus Christi Primary
  • Glen Devon Primary (now merged with Glen Orden)
  • Wyndham Park Primary (formerly Glen Orden)
  • Heathdale Christian College (c.)
  • Bethany Catholic Primary
  • Westgrove Primary
  • Manorvale Primary
  • Thomas Chirnside Primary

Secondary education

Provided by a range of public, private and Catholic colleges, also with some being combined with primary education as one P-12 college.

  • Werribee Secondary College
  • MacKillop Catholic Regional College
  • Heathdale Christian College (c.)
  • Galvin Park Secondary College
  • Suzanne Cory High School, a new public selective entry school

Tertiary education

Provided by a number of university and TAFE campuses, which are all located in the Werribee Employment Precinct - a large area between the Princes Highway and Freeway.

  • Victoria University, Werribee campus provides both university and TAFE services, and includes the Industrial Skills Training Centre
  • Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, Werribee campus (incorporating the Innoven division and the National Centre for Dairy Education
  • University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science, Werribee campus is a specialised training centre and includes a Veterinary hospital

This information has been sourced from Wikipedia.

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