Moorabool, Melton, Wyndham & Greater Geelong

Balancing urban and rural living

This area west of Melbourne features part of the vast Victorian Volcanic Plains that stretch from here across western Victoria. The lava that created these plains boiled from the earth over the last 6 million years.  The most recent eruptions are estimated to be only 10,000 years old.  Mount Atkinson and Mount Cottrell are two prominent remains of these volcanic vents.

The You Yangs and Brisbane Ranges mark the western border of the area and the rugged forested hills and gorges of the Lerderderg State Park are at its north. To the south, the plains merge into coastal wetlands and Port Phillip Bay while Melbourne’s urban sprawl defines its eastern edge.

The urban sprawl is recent here. The open plain west of Melbourne offered little attraction or shelter for residential development in Melbourne’s first century and its heavy clays, few streams and sparse rainfall offered limited grazing value. Cereal cropping was won by clearing millions of basalt boulders from the better soils. 

However, over the past two decades, population growth has seen large parcels of previously undeveloped land being released for housing estates. Population modelling suggests the region will be home to more than one million people in the next 20 years, which will require an additional 8,000 dwellings per year. Much of this will be in the new urban development area that stretches out from Melbourne to Melton and Bacchus Marsh to the north-west, and west towards Werribee and Little River.

Despite this rapid urbanisation, agriculture remains an important land use in the region with cropping and grazing featuring on the plains and valuable market gardens located around Bacchus Marsh and Werribee being key suppliers of vegetables for local, national and international markets.

The region has a rich natural environment with an extensive coastline and rivers and creeks such as Little River, Werribee River, Lerderderg River, Toolern Creek, Skeleton Creek and Kororoit Creek, which all drain into the north-west part of Port Phillip Bay. It is home to the Western and Derrimut Grassland Reserves and wetlands of international significance under the Ramsar Convention. The plains, their scattered woodlands, wetlands and small streams in rocky ravines offer a dazzling, diverse ecology of plants and animals

This area has been, and still is, a rich home for Aboriginal people. Alongside the Traditional Owners, many communities and agencies are intent on saving the area’s remaining and threatened animals, plants and ecosystems.