Roll up to Werribee Mansion, Werribee’s historic centerpiece and the base for your couple’s escape. Check-in is a little later today, but that’s not going to stop the romantic weekend from starting. Leave your bags with the concierge and make a beeline for The Spa at the Mansion Hotel. Start your quality time together the right way, by unwinding with the Couples’ Recovery Ritual Package. Your treatment begins with a glass of bubbly, chocolate-covered strawberries and a relaxing 30-minute spa soak. Then, you’ll both be treated to a 60-minute full body massage in a couple's room.
After all that pampering, it’s time for a bite to eat. Head to the onsite restaurant Joseph’s Restaurant and Bar and enjoy a gourmet lunch. Bag a table by the window so you can take in the view of the mansion’s picturesque gardens while you dine. Order a bottle of wine to share and choose from delectable dishes like handmade gnocchi with portobello mushroom ragu, lemon and pecorino, or black angus scotch fillet with potato puree chimichurri salsa, broccolini and red wine jus. Save some room for dessert to share — the sticky date tart, topped with hazelnut ice cream, whisky poached dates and butterscotch is a fantastic choice.
Take a stroll around the perfectly manicured gardens of the mansion together, taking the time to admire their beauty. Lush lawns, blooming flowers and beautiful established trees will help set the right tone. The one thing that will outdo giving your loved one roses on a romantic escape is taking them to a garden that’s brimming with them. A five-minute walk from the mansion you’ll come across the spectacular Victoria State Rose Garden. The garden is shaped like a rosebud, so explore its winding paths together being sure to, well, stop and smell the roses.
If a love of art is something you share, stroll along the Sculpture Walk. Works of Australia’s leading sculptors live on these grounds and range from Renaissance-style to modern and abstract. A favourite photo opportunity is the oversized picture frame that perfectly borders a picturesque view through over the plains of Werribee Open Range Zoo.
Meander back to the Mansion Hotel reception where your room keys will be waiting. Check-in and take in the luxuries of your home away from home. The building itself exudes old-world charm. It was built back in 1870 in the Italianate style, creating the perfect setting for escaping daily life. Unpack, settle in and delight in the luxurious comforts of your room. If you prefer, head to the 17-metre indoor pool for a couple of laps or retire to the billiard room for a few rounds of pool.
When dinnertime calls, you won’t need to venture far. Head back to Joseph’s Restaurant and Bar and see it transform from a light and bright lunch venue to a romantic dinner spot. Order a couple of starters to share, like the salt and pepper calamari or the charcuterie board for two. The mains menu has been perfected, offering a specialised range of tasty dishes. The slow-cooked lamb neck is garnished with smoked parsnip, Brussel sprouts, bay leaf and it never disappoints, while the goat’s cheese agnolotti will have the pasta lovers satisfied. If you'd prefer not to leave the luxuries of your room, order your dinner for two room-service style.
There are few ways better to spend quality time together than in the great outdoors and today is all about nature. You might be surprised to discover that thousands of birds from across the globe flock to the wetlands of the Werribee. From the mansion, take a short stroll down to the banks of the Werribee River, which is a marvel in itself. Take in the natural scenes while following the curves of the river. Look up at see if you can spot birdlife like the parrots and lorikeets of the area. Birds of prey like the wedge-tailed eagle and peregrine falcon also frequent the river, as do whistling kites and Latham’s snipes. In the water you might spot a platypus. Growling grass frogs also call the river home. When you’re done, head back to the mansion, take in the view from your room one last time, and check out.
Now it’s time to visit the animals often seen in the savannahs of Africa, at Werribee Open Range Zoo. There’s a safari tour on offer here, but for something a little more special why not book the off-road version that will see you enjoying the sites in a smaller, more private vehicle. Come within metres of extraordinary animals like giraffes, rhinos and zebras. After your safari, roam the zoo at your own pace, being sure to stop in and say hi to the gorillas. Consider yourselves a thrill-seeking couple? Test your wits with a unique lion encounter where you’ll get much closer to the king of the jungle, for a memory neither of you will forget.
It’s time to change the pace for the rest of your Werribee getaway with a visit to Shadowfax Winery. To start, order a couple of glasses of your favourite drop and take a stroll around its grounds, enjoying the view of this architecturally designed building and the scenes over the vineyards. If you prefer to graze, order a charcuterie board with a couple of cheeses (there’s five to choose from) and set up with a picnic rug on the lush lawn. If you're really hungry, secure a table in the restaurant and select something from the ala carte menu. The wood-fired pizza is always a hit, as is the pasta. On weekends, live music in the restaurant provides the right note on which to finish your break. Before you venture home, stop by the cellar door where a fantastic selection of wine awaits — take a bottle home with you to enjoy together later.
Hero image credit: Shaun Thompson
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