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Culture and heritage

Five hundred million years of geological history - from ancient folded sea-bed sediments through glacial material to relatively recent lava flows - have been revealed in the Gorge by the down cutting action of the Werribee River, accelerated in the past million years by the formation of the Port Phillip sunkland along the Rowsley Fault.

The name Werribee (originally spelt "Wearibi") is thought to derive from an Aboriginal word meaning either "swimming place" or "backbone", the latter perhaps referring to the river's snake like bends.

By the 1880s several geological surveys had been carried out in the Gorge, and its geological importance was appreciated.

In 1907, it was reserved under the Land Act as a public park and for the preservation of geological features. Walking tracks and shelter sheds were built and a caretaker appointed.

Prospecting and timber cutting occurred on a small scale during the 1930s depression and a water race was built in 1928 to carry water to Bacchus Marsh.

Over many years, field naturalists called for increased protection for the Gorge. It came under the National Parks Service management as 'Werribee Gorge State Park' in 1975 as a result of a Land Conservation Council recommendation. The park has since been enlarged by the purchase of adjoining freehold land.