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Regional Victoria boasts some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the whole of Australia, and you can experience this at its best by paying a visit to Werribee Gorge state park. This unspoilt landscape offers supreme natural beauty, as well as a host of activities to take part in.
We’ve taken a closer look at the area to give you a taste of what you can expect from a visit to the Gorge wildlife park and the surrounding attractions in and around the nearest town of Bacchus Marsh.
About Werribee Gorge
Werribee Gorge State Park offers a perfect example of the stunning, rugged scenery regional Victoria is famous for. Located close to Pentland Hills and the town of Bacchus Marsh, it is within easy reach of Melbourne – the journey from Melbourne to Bacchus Marsh takes just over an hour by road, following a route which leads you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the spectacular surroundings of rural Victoria.
Werribee Gorge is of huge interest to geologists, as it was formed approximately one million years ago by movements along a fault line in the Earth’s crust. It is one of the earliest known examples of a glacial deposit in the world.
However, most visitors come to the Gorge wildlife park to enjoy the scenery and to take part in physical activities outdoors. A Werribee Gorge hike is an excellent way to get closer to nature, and there are a number of popular hiking trails here, which take you through a variety of different terrains, enabling you to discover a number of historic sights and swimming holes along with impressive views of the Werribee River. Although some of the hiking trails here are strenuous, there are also plenty of places to relax and enjoy your surroundings, making this a truly peaceful and invigorating place for visitors to Victoria to spend a few hours away from Melbourne.
The most popular hiking trails in Werribee Gorge
Hiking is one of the main reasons people love to visit Werribee Gorge, and there are a number of walks here which are extremely rewarding:
1. Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk
The most popular hiking trail here is the 10km Werribee Gorge circuit walk, which is generally done in an anti-clockwise direction starting at the Quarry. The walk takes you along the river for part of the way, and gives you an excellent opportunity to take in the impressive sights at every stage, including some beautiful views along the gorge rim. If you want to stop for something to eat in these idyllic surroundings, there is a lovely picnic area at Meikles Point. The walk takes around 4.5 hours to complete, and the terrain is difficult in parts, but it is well worth the effort.
2. River Walk
This walk starts at the Meikles Point picnic area and follows the route of the old aqueduct upstream, giving you a real sense of the history of the area.
3. Centenary Walk
The Centenary Walk begins at the Quarry and leads you through open woodland before you cross the bridge over Myrniong Creek. You can then climb to the top of the James Whyte Island Reserve, where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views across Werribee Gorge.
4. Falcons Lookout
Falcons Lookout is another excellent spot for panoramic views across the gorge and its surrounding areas. It can be reached by walking through the beautiful Ironbark Gorge, approached from the Ballan – Islington Road. However, if you feel you want to do something a little more daring, you can also reach Falcons Lookout by rock climbing, which is something many visitors to Werribee Gorge enjoy.
The town of Bacchus Marsh
Bacchus Marsh is the nearest town to Werribee Gorge, and is steeped in history, so it is an extremely popular destination for visitors to the area. It is the ancestral home of the Kurung Aboriginal people. The first European settler was Kenneth Scobie Clarke, who brought livestock to the area in 1836, but the town is named after Captain William Henry Bacchus, an English military man who really established the town by having the Manor House built for his retirement. This impressive building still stands in the town to this day. Previously, the area was predominantly marshlands, which is where the “Marsh” part of the name comes from.
Bacchus Marsh grew in importance during the Gold Rush of the 1850s and 60s, due to its close proximity to Ballarat, which was one of the most gold-rich areas. The Border Inn, a Tudor-style building which you can still see in Bacchus Marsh today, became the main coach stopover for gold prospectors travelling from Melbourne to Ballarat, sealing the historical importance of Bacchus Marsh.
In more recent years, the town has become better known for its agricultural produce and orchards, as well as the beautiful and dramatic scenery which surrounds it. However, Bacchus Marsh also offers a number of attractions which are well worth a visit while you are here.
Things to do in Bacchus Marsh
Here are some of the main attractions you can take in when you visit Bacchus Marsh:
1. The Avenue of Honour
The Avenue of Honour is considered to be the world’s finest avenue of elm trees, containing a total of 281 North American elms. These trees were planted in honour of the area’s servicemen and women who gave their lives in World War I. The route also features a number of market stalls where you can purchase the excellent local produce along the way.
2. Blacksmith’s Cottage and Forge
Located on Main Street, the cottage and blacksmith’s forge date back to the mid-19th century, and offer a great insight into what life in the town would have been like in times gone by. On weekends, the forge is open as a local history museum and book barn, enabling you to learn more about the history of the area.
3. Long Forest Flora and Fauna Reserve
The Long Forest Flora and Fauna Reserve is a beautiful spot which contains the only patch of mallee growing naturally south of the Great Dividing Range. It is ideal for bushwalking and nature-watching, as a number of rare plants grow here, including exotic species of orchid. Approximately 200 species of birds make their homes here, along with many of Australia’s favourite animals including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and possums. A fascinating spot for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
4. Bacchus Marsh Motorsports
This famous speedway, located in a volcanic crater, is the venue for the Australian Speed Car Championships in March each year. If you want to learn how to drive like a professional yourself, you can try out your skills at driving laps in a rally car here with a qualified instructor.
5. Maddingley Park
Located close to Bacchus Marsh railway station, this large park is a great spot for a picnic. There are a number of sports facilities here including a fitness circuit and tennis courts, and the kids will love the well-equipped playground.
Visit Werribee Gorge and Bacchus Marsh, Victoria
These are just a few of the main highlights and things to do in Bacchus Marsh and Werribee Gorge. To understand the true attraction of this beautiful location, you need to experience it for yourself.
Melbourne Private Tours offers a half-day tour of Werribee Gorge and Bacchus Marsh, enabling you to step out into the great outdoors and gain a sense of calm and tranquillity by immersing yourself in the rugged beauty of regional Victoria. We will collect you and your party from Melbourne in an air-conditioned luxury vehicle, so you can make the journey from the city in style and comfort. You will also have your own personal tour guide along with you, who can answer all your questions and explain more about the area, pointing out all the most significant places of interest and giving you an introduction to the history of the region. At the end of the tour, we will collect you once again in your luxury vehicle to make the return journey from Bacchus Marsh to Melbourne, after a refreshing and memorable half day.
With Melbourne Private Tours, your private Melbourne tour guide, you can enjoy an itinerary specifically tailored to suit your needs and those of your travelling companions. We are always happy to cater for your requirements, and we provide a real sense of luxury and exclusivity at every stage, offering you a comfortable way to travel as well as the knowledge and insights of a highly experienced tour guide.
If you would like to experience the stunning Werribee Gorge state park and the fascinating town of Bacchus Marsh for yourself as part of a visit to Victoria, please contact us. Our team are always happy to help. And if you are a wildlife and nature lover, you might also want to explore the other wildlife tours we offer. There are many tours to choose from – we are sure you’ll find your favourite. The Phillip Island tour from Melbourne surely won’t disappoint. Great Ocean Road is also rich in local wildlife and nature; to see the best of it, allow a couple of days and go for our Great Ocean Road 2-day tour.