Strolling the streets and parks of this idyllic suburb in Melbourne’s southwest, you’ll relish the relaxed atmosphere and community spirit.
In the 1850s, a small township by the name of Wyndham grew in response to the increasing number of pastoralists moving to the region. That village still stands today, but has been renamed Werribee. The word is derived from a local Indigenous word that means backbone or spine, a possible reference to the shape of the river that passes through this part of the world.
Watton Street is Werribee’s main street and, as well as supermarkets and amenities, there is a range of cafes and restaurants. Drop into The Crooked Fork for breakfast or brunch. Selections change with the seasons, but you can be sure there’ll always be something completely decadent — jam donut French toast, with chocolate shards, honeycomb, berries and whipped cream, for instance — alongside dishes like chorizo and haloumi fritters and polenta-crusted chicken and avocado in an open sandwich. On Wedge Street, you’ll find The South Corner, a brunch spot that has become extremely popular with locals since it opened in a converted milk bar. When you’re ready for lunch, transport yourself to Truck Stop Deluxe. Booths are set into semi-trailers that have somehow been installed inside, and American-style burgers dripping with cheese and pickles are the house specialty — team them with trucker fries and milkshakes (spiked ones, too, if you don’t have to drive).
Header image: Tim Marcus
If you love to shop, there are lots of different options in Werribee. You can find a present for anyone at Gift Givers Gallery, an independent boutique that has an incredible range of unique and quirky objects carefully sourced from around the country. Whether you want kitchen implements for a bride-to-be or a colourful umbrella for a nephew, you can find it here. Or check out Pacific Werribee which boasts more than 300 stores, including H&M and Uniqlo. There's also Village Cinemas in the mall if you need to take a load off for a little while.
Enjoy views of the Werribee River at Riverbend Historical Park. The reserve has a pretty outlook with seating and barbecue facilities in case you want to relax a while. One of the most interesting ways to get there is on the Werribee River Walk, which stretches for 4.5km from Werribee Station, north along the river, passing public sculptures, market gardens and sports fields, before arriving at the park.
If historical aircraft fires your imagination, visit the B-24 Liberator being restored at the old Werribee airfield (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday only). The B-24 was a long-range heavy bomber that played an important part in war efforts in the Pacific during World War II. This one, being rebuilt from separate fuselage and wings, is the only remaining B-24 in the southern hemisphere.
The Park Hotel is a gem of a local watering hole. Craft beer lovers should get excited because there are 23 taps with a revolving list of microbrews from the likes of Cavalier, 2 Brothers and Gage Roads. There are also small-batch spirits behind the bar and a list of carefully chosen wines. The bistro dishes up American-influenced fare — brisket burgers, grilled fish tacos, pit-smoked spare ribs — and there are specials throughout the week. There’s fried chicken and trivia on Wednesday, American BBQ on Thursday and live music in the beer garden on Saturday night. You’ll soon wish you were a local.