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Friday, January 27, 2012

Exploring the newly opened Werribee River Regional Park

These pix show the scenery, environment, and flora in the recently opened Werribee River Park, 35 km southwest of central Melbourne.

It is one of three new urban parks opened under the management of Parks Victoria, on land previously managed by Melbourne Water.

This 260 hectare park is located on the west bank of the Werribee River and runs south of the Princes Freeway (Maltby Bypass) through to the mouth of the river at Port Phillip Bay. Stage 1 of the park is now open, as a 3 km sealed bike/walking track from the Maltby Bypass south to the river cliffs.

Beyond the cliffs, the trail is unsealed, and continues to the mouth of the river, a further 3km to the south.

The Park is adjacent to the historic Werribee Park, the Werribee Open Range Zoo and the Werribee Golf Club.

The park area was once part of the grazing enterprise of the Chirnside Family who owned Werribee Mansion. It was later transformed into part of the Western Treatment Plant.

Flora and fauna

The river and wetlands provide habitat for a diversity of waterbirds. The park is part of a Ramsar site that aims to protect and enhance habitat for migratory birds. Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite, Musk Duck and Latham’s Snipe birds may be seen, along with more common species such as parrots and lorikeets. The threatened Growling Grass Frog has been recorded within the park.

Majestic River Red Gum trees provide shelter and line the upstream section of the river. Large areas of Common Reed occur adjacent to the river, while patches of colourful saltmarsh are present in low lying areas.

The area above the escarpment has formerly been used as grazing land and will be revegetated over time.

I visited the Park on January 25, 2012, on a 4 km circuit hike starting at the small car park off Farm Rd.

This took me along the trail, down the long steel/timber access ramp above the reeds, and across the new metal bridge along the Golf Course.

From the bridge, I then continued along the lower level trail, adjacent to the river, reaching the cliffs. I then returned to the carpark along the upper level Escarpment Track, which is next to former farmland.

The new park offers opportunities to enjoy the river environment and scenery, previously prohibited access members of the public.

The River Park can also be reached from the Werribee Mansion Historical Precinct.

See all of the Photos of my visit, and check out my YouTube video!

For further details, see Parks Victoria:

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