Thomas and Andrew Chirnside, leaders of the Victorian squattocracy, travelled to Australia from the lowlands of Scotland in the mid 1800's. Armed with determination and motivated by their family motto 'Do or Die', the brothers set about creating a vast pastoral empire. The exquisite mansion and extensive gardens at their stately property of Werribee Park are a testament to their successful business venture, while offering visitors of today a rare glimpse into the extravagance of a bygone era. Built between 1874 and 1877, their 60-roomed Italianate-style mansion is Victoria's largest and most elaborate private residence. The entire property remained within the Chirnside family until 1922. Initially purchased by Philip Lock, a self-made wealthy grazier from Warrnambool, it was sold again a year later to the Roman Catholic Bishops of Australia for development as a seminary.
Werribee Park became home to Corpus Christi College in 1923; a training ground for young men seeking to enter the priesthood in the Dioceses of Melbourne, Ballarat, Sandhurst, Sale and Hobart . The full training course required eight years of full-time study in Arts, Philosophy and Theology.
Until 1959 all eight years of study were completed at Werribee Park. As trainee numbers increased a second college was built at Glen Waverley, now the Victoria Police Academy , enabling students to undertake their first four years of Philosophy at Werribee Park and their second four in Theology at Glen Waverley.
During its residency the Catholic Church added several wings to the original Chirnside mansion.
The Victorian Government acquired Werribee Park from the Catholic Church in 1973 and commenced work to progressively restore the original mansion and remaining land back to its former glory. Now proudly managed by Parks Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government, the entire property offers a rich array of culture, history and stories to explore.
GHOSTS OF WERRIBEE PARK