The Werribee Mansion was built by the Chirnside family back in the late 1880s. They were pastoral dynasty that reaped significant profits and the Mansion was among one of their many extravagant projects. They also maintained a deer park, in the vicinity of the suburb Deer Park. Makes sense right?
They also were members of the Acclimatisation Society, that set out to import species into Australia to provide sport hunting, and included foxes, rabbits, alpacas, pheasants, sparrows and thrushes. It’s a long painful list that we still pay for among decimation of native species.
One part of the gardens was turned into an ornamental pond. However because of the quality of the sandy river soil, the lake was mostly left empty as it drained quickly. It was only ever topped up when ‘important’ guests were in residence.
It is interesting to walk among the huge trees in the garden and contemplate that the layout, and those who conceived it, was for another generation. Now stately and immaculately maintained by Parks Vic, it is a pleasure to wander the gardens and see locals and visitors enjoying the grounds.
The Ornamental Pond is still there and is always filled with water these days. Which makes it a home for freeloading ducks, coots and waterhens and the like. Some, such as grebes and cormorants and egrets have to ply their trade among the frogs, bugs and small fish that seem to be in abundance in the lake.
One Great Egret is regularly found there. I’ve named it ‘Grace’, for Graceful and Gracious. Not habituated, but neither afraid of humans, this bird works the pond and its verges and also spends time preening on the trees and small island in the area.
Which makes it a most interesting photo subject.
So much so that I have become quite clued to its body language and can often predict a flight, and a flight path, and sometimes, predict a landing point.
Given the right sunshine, the richness of the dark shadows among the trees, and a hint of luck, a very happy hour or so can be spent by the pond.
Thanks to the foresight of the ‘landed gentry’ who would know doubt be horrified to see common folk picnicking or conducting weddings on their lawns.