On the first weekend of spring, we packed a picnic and headed out to spend the morning at Werribee Park Mansion and Gardens. The sun was making its first timid appearance for days, and it warmed our faces, and those of the delicate new flowers blooming in pink and purple rivers at the foot of the impressive mansion. Picture perfect, and only the first week of spring!
We unfurled our picnic rug, Daddy splayed his newspaper out across the grass and Miss Two found her big, bouncy ball. With a carpet of green grass rolling out further than Miss Two could have hoped, she had plenty of space to practice running (skill of the month) – though the bigger kids playing soccer, and the large heron that landed nearby were pretty exciting, too. It was the first time in a long time that I could remember having a bit of space to myself; not having a toddler clambering all over me felt like quite a luxury!
Before long, it was time for the morning nap, so we took the opportunity to sit on the lawns for a peaceful coffee (in fact, two coffees each!) from the cafe beside the Mansion.
Next, we strolled across to the grotto, a manmade cave in the centre of a manmade lake, all built in 1870. The walls inside the grotto were decorated from floor to ceiling with shells, animal bones, and even children’s teeth! Yes, many kids will be very excited to learn that this is where the Tooth Fairy lives, decorating her home a little more intricately each time a child loses a tooth!
But Miss Two’s favourite place by far was the Farmstead Garden. We were surprised and delighted to find a farm here, with six lovely heritage buildings, including a stables and blacksmith’s hut, and a teeny-tiny bluestone cottage. The kitchen garden is still fully operational thanks to local community volunteers, and we had enormous fun exploring all the different plants, tasting a snow pea or two, meeting the scarecrow and looking for the biggest broccoli.
There is also a very homely looking chicken coop housing several plump hens and a gigantic rooster, all of whom were very interested in the blades of grass Miss Two poked carefully through the wire. I think she would have done this all day if she could’ve, but it was time for lunch. Afterwards, we took our time heading back via the impressive modern Sculpture Walk.
There was more to see, but an adventure with a two-year-old can only last as long as her energy. Here are our top tips for your next visit:
Explore the kitchen garden (try a sweet-as-candy snow pea!) and meet the chickens.
Have a coffee in peace while the kids enjoy the wide open space.
Visit the ‘Tooth Fairy’s house’ (the grotto).
Stroll through the Sculpture Walk to the River Park – a great mother’s group activity for those with newborns.
Smell the roses at the award-winning Victorian State Rose Garden (in bloom from October to May).
Challenge the kids to find all the different fruit trees in the orchard.
Take older kids to the Mansion’s interactive Children’s Room, where they’ll have a hands-on chance to step back in time and discover life in the 1800s.
And the best part? Well, besides being completely FREE to enter the gardens, the Werribee Park Mansion and Gardens is accessible by bus number 439, and is only ten minutes’ from the heart of Werribee town centre.
You know where we’ll be this spring! See you there.
Address: K Road, Werribee South VIC 3030
Monday–Friday: April to September, 10 am–4 pm; October to March, 10 am–6:30 pm (mansion shuts at 5 pm)
Saturday and Sunday: 10 am–5 pm
Contact: 13 19 63