About 40 minutes’ drive west of Melbourne CBD, Werribee gets a bad rap for no reason. It’s true, there’s a sewage plant nearby. But it’s also true, thanks to recent innovations it’s almost impossible to know it’s even there. So book a stay at the Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park and let an olfactory experience of a very different kind – rose gardens – overtake your sense of smell.
Check in to the Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park. Surrounded by about four hectares of landscaped lawns and gardens, the hotel is housed in an annexe of Werribee Park Mansion – a grand Italianate basalt and sandstone residence, dating back to the 1870s. There are 91 rooms and suites to choose from but, if the budget allows, for the best aspect and more space, ask for one of the Junior Suites that looks over the hotel’s porch and main entrance. Alternatively, you could settle for one of the Heritage Rooms, which may not be as spacious, but are replete with period details.
Eat and drink
Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar should be on your list of places to dine, even if you’re not staying at the Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park. And if you’re staying there, make the most of the restaurant’s proximity to your bedroom by opting of the six-course tasting menu with matching wines. Chef David Green (ex Lakehouse, Daylesford) is at the helm with exquisitely created dishes that change almost every day to reflect the seasons and fresh produce. If you’re not super hungry, there’s a four-course menu, too, or you can simply order from the à la carte menu.
If you want to venture further, Shawdowfax Wines – with its high-ceilinged restaurant and cellar door – is located right next to the Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park. Weekends are particularly busy so book ahead and feast on dishes like osso bucco lasagne and pepperoni pizza. Just don’t forget to drop in for a wine tasting before the meal. The winery is renowned for its pinot noirs and chardonnays, so order one to accompany the meal, and grab a couple to take back home.
Things to do
Head to the Heritage-listed Werribee Park Mansion next door for a guided tour. Dating back to the 1870s, the historic building features a striking façade – one of the finest examples of Italianate architecture in Australia. Wander through its high-ceilinged hallways, timeless arches and elaborate rooms, all of them restored to their original glory for a step back in time and discover the fascinating tales of the affluent immigrants who built it.
Explore the mansion’s landscaped lawns, before making your way to the Victoria State Rose Garden, where 6000 roses await. It is the largest public rose garden in Australia, spread over almost five hectares, and is designed to resemble the shape of a giant Tudor rose. Set aside at least a couple of hours to meander through rows of wildly colourful and fragrant roses.
No trip to Werribee Park is complete without at least one visit to the Werribee Open Range Zoo. You could sign up for the zoo’s Sunset Safari tour – a great way to see its wild inhabitants (hippos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, etc) at a time when they’re most active. Or you could opt for the Slumber Safari package, which gives guests two-day access to the zoo, including a one-night stay in an African-lodge-inspired luxury accommodation with ensuite.