North West Tasmania WeekendDisplaying 500 million years of geological history, Werribee Gorge is one of the most scenic gorges close to Melbourne. It is located near Bacchus Marsh and is popular with bushwalkers and rock climbers, all attracted to its spectacular views and significant geological features. This incredably picturesque formation boasts deep gorges, steep sloping sides, exposed rocky outcrops and diverse flora snd fauna. Early geological exploration recognised its significance and it was listed as a reserve in 1907. Its rugged steep slopes and dramatic terrain has allowed Werribee Gorge to remain largely in its natural state. There was limited timber felling and gold prospecting in the Gorge during the 1930's depression. In 1928, a 'flume' or water race was built from the Gorge to Bacchus Marsh to supply water to the growing township. Remnants of the aquaduct are still visible today and walking trails through the Gorge follow sections of this old water race.
Werribee Gorge has attracted the attention of geologists last century as one of the earliest known ancient glacial deposits, parts of which can be seen by the observant visitor. The 200m deep gorge was formed about a million years ago when movements along a fault in the Earth's crust steepened the river's gradient. Since then the stream has continued to deepen the gorge through underlying rock to ancient sediments deposited in a sea more than 400 million years ago. Other geological events that have since occurred include the advance and retreat of an ice sheet and the inflow of volcanic lava.
Werribee Gorge's relatively untouched state makes it vitally important from a conservation perspective. With its ruggedness and steep slopes, Werribee Gorge has remained in a relatively natural state, making it vitally important for the preservation of native flora and fauna in a landscape that has been cleared and farmed. Trees in the park include Red Ironbark, Grey Box, Manna Gum, Varnish and Golden Wattle and the White Cypress-pine, usually found north of the Great Dividing Range. Keep an eye out for Wedge-leaf Hopbush, Snowy Mint-bush, bush peas, groundsels and ferns. The Gorge is home to Echidnas, Koalas, Platypuses, Swamp Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Birdlife is prolific, with two notable species being the mighty Wedge-tailed Eagle and the splendid Peregrine Falcon.
Enjoy a picnic with family and friends at Meikles Point or Quarry Picnic Areas. Fireplaces, picnic tables and toilets are provided. There is a spectacular walking track which winds itself through the breathtaking gorge, which popular with bushwalkers and locals alike.
Werribee, or as it was originally spelt, Wearibi, is thought to have originated from the Aboriginal word meaning backbone' or swimming place'. The backbone reference may be due to the snake like formation of the river bends in the Gorge.
Circuit Walk - 10km - 4.5 hrs Grade - Medium - Hard
Start at the Quarry or Meikles Point Picnic Area and walk in an anti clockwise direction. Excellent views along the gorge rim, steep in places with some rock scrambling along the river section of the track. The track along the river may become impassable after heavy rain.
River Walk - 3km return - 1.2 hrs return Grade Medium
Start at Meikles Point Picnic Area and follow the old aqueduct upstream to a point where you need to climb around the base of a cliff. This is the end of the River Walk. A wire rope attached to the rock wall assists navigation of this section for those wanting to continue further along the gorge.
Falcons Lookout - 3km return - 2 hr return Grade - Medium
Panoramic views of the gorge and beyond. Walk in from the Ballan-Ingliston Road through the picturesque Ironbark Gorge. Falcons Lookout offers a fantastic rock climbing experience. It is currently the only area in the park available for rock climbing.
Centenary Walk - 4km return - 2.5 hrs return Grade - Medium - Hard Start at Quarry Picnic Area and follow Circuit Track before diverging 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 with panoramic views over Werribee Gorge and beyond. Walkers will see Red Ironbark, Grey Box, Manna Gum, Golden Wattle and the White Cypress-pine normally found north of the Dividing Range. Keep an eye out for echidnas, koalas, swamp wallabies and eastern grey kangaroo. If you re lucky you may even see a Platypus swimming in one of the deep river holes. There is plenty of bird life and notable species include the wedge-tailed eagle and the peregrine falcon. We ve seen a few snakes out there so watch your step.
Location: From Melbourne, take the Western Freeway. Werribee Gorge is 8kms west of Bacchus Marsh via the Western Freeway and the Pentland Hills Road. Follow the signs from the Highway or via the Iron-bark Road (Ballan-Ingliston Road) from Bacchus Marsh.