Werribee Park comprises of the land that was the estate of Werribee Park Mansion. Today it houses a hotel, a zoo, gardens, an equestrian centre, and the original mansion, which has been restored and is open to the public.
The mansion was completely built in 1877 by the Scottish Chirnside brothers, who got rich off of sheep. They lived there and ran their empire from it. The style of the mansion is Italianate.
From 1923 to 1973, the mansion became the home of a Catholic seminary. It then got under the ownership of Parks Victoria who turned it into the historical attraction it is today.
Almost every room on the ground floor was open, from the drawing rooms (one for women and one for men) to the dining room to the master bedroom with the only original indoor bathroom in the house to the larder and pantry. All of the decorating was lush and super colorful, which I loved.
My favorite room was the open upper foyer at the top of the grand staircase, which transitioned into the ballroom. I love the light blue paint color against the deep mahogany wood and with accents of pure white and real gold foil. The tile floors also perfectly tie into the color scheme, which is very reflective of the open sky just outside the wide double doors onto the wraparound balcony.
Upstairs, more bedrooms were on display, as well as some small exhibits on the clothes people living and working in the house would have worn.
Back downstairs, one of the main, and largest rooms, was the billiards room. Animal skins (real and original!) littered the floor and animal heads were hung on the wall or placed on the floor (like the hippo in the corner); one of the Chirnside brothers loved to go on safari. The rhinoceros foot stool is also an esky! You never know when you’ll need a cold drink when playing pool.
The ‘backyard’ of the enormous mansion held a courtyard and large laundry facilities. A huge drying area was sectioned off by a row of evergreens and covered in white shells to stop dust from dirtying the linens/clothes. Australians are big on air-drying, hey use what you’ve got right, and they’ve definitely got sun. The same is true to this day, the balconies of all the other apartments we can see always have drying racks out with laundry covering them.
On the extensive grounds, there was a small lake with a grotto in the centre. The grotto, which didn’t look like much from the outside, was completely inlaid with shells in intricate patterns on the inside. Succulents were blooming all over the grotto as they can survive in Melbourne year round.
The Victorian State Rose Garden is also on the grounds of Werribee Park. Summer was the perfect season to come here as all the roses were in full bloom. I also caught a fleeting glimpse of the famously elusive Splendid Fairy Wren.