Many special spots along the river are not immediately obvious. You would have to get up close, which means getting out of the car. 
The time spent exploring these places is worth it and repeat visits even more so, as these begin to shape your sense of the way Wirribi Yaluk, from the Wadawurrung language, holds up the landscape.
The Werribee River changes its face across the day and seasons.

Cobbledick's Ford

Cobbledick’s Ford is exactly like a hidden gem, tucked away in a little pocket of Wyndham, less than half an hour from the center via Dohertys Rd.

It can be hard to believe that this lush area is in the outer-west suburbs, but that makes for a good excuse to immerse yourself in natural surroundings undisturbed, when you need to.

The seclusion means that a variety of birds use this area, from wrens and finches to cockatoos. The track also takes you on intimate views of the Werribee River as it makes its way through the reserve.

The river tumbling over the new fishway, constructed to facilitate the movement of fish using a series of steps or gradients.

Grahams Wetland Reserve

There are few relatively undisturbed coastal saltmarshes left, so it is a special thing to be able to explore Grahams Reserve. This area sits on the Werribee River estuary, where its freshwater meets the salty bay. These conditions make for diverse vegetation and wildlife.

Tread carefully and observe the birds as they make use of the landscape and sea country. It is a place that would have been an abundant food source for Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years, from fish to mussels and other shellfish.

The meeting of fresh and salty waters at Grahams Reserve creates a delicately balanced ecosystem.

Diversion Weir, Riverbend Historical Park

The weir, originally constructed in 1910, is testament to human interventions in the flow of the Werribee River to benefit settlement and agriculture. The water from here benefited the early Werribee South market gardens, and remains the case for the region today.

The passing flow out of the pipes can be viewed 24/7.

In recent years, advocacy regarding environmental water flows, which enhance the health of rivers, including wildlife and the vegetation dependent on them, has led to releases of water called ‘refreshes.’

These periodic releases are made in response to conditions in the Lower Werribee, such as in summer. It is sometimes timed with the lunar cycle to aid fish migration. During these refreshes, water passes the weir for a few days at peak rates, ranging from 70 to 127 megalitres depending on environmental requirements.

Time one of your walks with a glimpse of the periodic 'refresh'

Bungey's Hole

The Werribee River pools into an elliptical shape at Bungey’s, measuring approximately 150 x 150 metres. Longtime residents will tell you that it is the best open water view in Wyndham.

In the 1920s this was such a popular swimming hole that the local paper dubbed it one summer as ‘the St Kilda of Werribee’. There was a diving tower and platform erected at its edge, as well as a shallower pool created by a weir at the southern boundary. Today swimming at Bungeys is inadvisable due to water quality issues and a long history of flooding.

The cove-like scene across the still water, with its abundant birdlife and sheltered space, make for a worthwhile visit. Platypus have been sighted in this area, so if you’re extremely lucky, you might see one in the water, too.

Such values highlight the importance not just of protecting and enhancing waterways for habitat, but also facilitating connections to nature.

An impressive and unusual vista of the river in one of Werribee's busiest districts

Werribee River Regional Park Fishway

On its own, the bluestone ford at Werribee River Park is of historical interest. It provided the only crossing over the Werribee River when it was built by the Chirnside family in the 1800s, who needed to move wool to Geelong for shipping.

However, the crossing creates a barrier for fish, which require mobility across the river for their breeding and life cycles. The Werribee River supports at least 30 species of fish, including Short-finned Eels, which perform epic migrations between freshwater systems and the Coral Sea.

In 2015 Melbourne Water undertook a fishway project at the historic ford, placing rocks at optimum gradients or steps to provide resting pools for fish migrating upstream.

Go see it up close! A good prompt to reflect on how else we could assist aquatic animals live their best life.

A ladder-like gradient to help fish move up- and downriver based on the stage in their life cycle.
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