werribee south text

Werribee South is a rural area at the southern end of the estuary of the Werribee River. This distinctive geography is the background to the whole area. The fabulous beaches the market gardens

Driving through Werribee South today is like being in an organic patchwork quilt, whose theme is the colours of broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce areas. There are fallow areas and a few patches of artichokes and onions to provide some contrast. The area today is identifiable as the landscape subdivided for closer settlement and the introduction of irrigation.

Reminders of this past can be seen all around. From the simple timber houses from earlier years of the 20th century, the Soldiers Memorial Hall on Diggers Road, early schools and shops, the cypress windbreaks, and irrigation channels and the Detheridge water wheels and many market gardens. You can still see the Water Tower and offices of the old State Rivers and Water Supply Commission on Tower Road, Werribee, built in 1925 as a part of the development.

The Market Gardens

The area was originally used predominantly for sheep grazing  In 1904 the State Government purchased a large part of the area for closer-settlement farming. It needed the provision of irrigation to supplement the area's relatively low rainfall to complete a change from sheep grazing country to mostly market gardening. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission brought in an irrigation engineer Elwood Mead from the United States. His first assignment was in Werribee. In 1912 the irrigation settlement – Werribee Estate was established drawing water from the Werribee River, the Pykes Creek and Melton reservoirs upstream. The farms proved ideal for orchards, poultry, lucerne crops and dairying, as they were close to metropolitan markets.This created a unique community that began with a settlement scheme and then as soldier settlement after the First World War. From the 1920s an Italian community had begun to establish here. By 1918, the population was 427.

Ultimately irrigation always relies on the health of the groundwater system. In Werribee South it is known as the Werribee delta aquifer. It is formed from previous Werribee River courses and floodplain and extends under most of the Werribee South irrigation area, the Werribee River and the Western Treatment Plant. The top of the aquifer is generally only 6 to 10 metres below ground and the bottom of the aquifer is up to 30 metres below ground. Salinity varies from 800 and 3,000 EC, depending on location and the time of year.

In 1910 the development in 1910 of the Dethridge Meter wheel, a simple flow measuring device characterised by integration of total discharge, accuracy over a wide range of discharge, low head loss, robust and simple construction, ease of maintenance and relatively low cost. 

The Dethridge wheel is used throughout Australia and in many other countries including U.S.A., Israel and Africa.

Werribee South Foreshore

K. Road Cliffs

 

At the cliffs the river has cut down into the Werribee delta over the eons exposing these beautiful red cliffs, creating a flood plain through which the river flows on its way to Port Phillip Bay six kilometres away at Werribee South. From the K Road Cliffs you can see the beginnings of the estuary of the Werribee River below. The cliffs are right on the western edge of superb irrigated farmland. Some good walks exist on the river with wildlife and great views in proximity to working farms and irrigation channels.

 

Werribee South Foreshore

The beach area is very different, a great place for some fun. At the river end there are jetties and boat ramps, a recreation reserve with adventure playgrounds, beaches and a caravan park. At the other end of the beach, you will find the new marina development, Wyndham Harbour. This has transformed the Werribee South Foreshore into a mix of retail and residential elements and also provided 10 hectares of new parks and wetlands, coastal walk and bike paths and two new beaches.

Cororoc Historic Town

Cocoroc was previously known as Metropolitan or Werribee Farm, is 35 km south-west of Melbourne, bordering Port Phillip Bay. It was developed to house the employees of the Water Treatment Plant. Because of the area’s isolation employees were housed in a village which by 1910 had a post office and a population of about 300 persons. By the early 1920s there were three primary schools and a public hall. The schools were Cocoroc (1894), Cocoroc South (1906) and Cocoroc West (1906). By the 1940s there were also a church, a sports oval and a swimming pool. Today you can see the Old tower

The township of Cocoroc was created in 1894 at the Metropolitan Sewage Farm (now the Western Treatment Plant) to house the workers it employed. The name 'Cocoroc' means 'frog' in the language of the Wathaurung people — the Traditional Owners of the land the treatment plant was built on.

 

Located within the unique cultural landscape of Western Treatment Plant, there once was a township called Cocoroc. In 1894: A plan of the township shows there were 72 allotments. By 1897: There were 32 houses, a town hall, a football ground a swimming pool, tennis courts, four schools and a post office. By the early 1950s the township reached its peak with nearly 100 houses. By the early 1970s: Some 500 people were living in Cocoroc.

As it became too expensive to subsidise, Cocoroc was abandoned. By 1973, most of the houses and other buildings were demolished or moved to Werribee.

All that is left now of Cocoroc are two small empty concrete swimming pools, change rooms, a sports pavillion, a farm hall and a heritage-listed water tank.

Water treatment Plant

In 1892 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works established a sewerage filtration system on 3580 ha of land west of the Werribee River. The sewage was transported from the metropolitan area by a main which was assisted by a pumping station at Spotswood. The initial sewage treatment process was the flooding of low gradient land with untreated effluent, and its effectiveness was improved in 1926 with grass filtration, when evaporation is weakest during the winter months. A proportion of the land was available for livestock grazing.