Metropolitan Farm

Metropolitan Farm, also known as Werribee Farm, is 35 km. south-west of Melbourne, between the western bank of the Werribee River and Corio. It borders Port Phillip Bay and has an area of 10,800 ha.

In 1892 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works established a sewerage filtration system on 3,580 ha. of land west of the Werribee River. The sewage was transported from the metropolitan area by a main which was assisted by a pumping station at Spotswood. The initial sewage-treatment process was the flooding of low-gradient land with untreated effluent, and its effectiveness was improved in 1926 with grass filtration, when evaporation is weakest during the winter months. A proportion of the land was available for livestock grazing.

Because of the area’s isolation employees were housed in a village which by 1910 had a post office and a population of about 300 persons. By the early 1920s there were three primary schools and a public hall. The schools were Cocoroc (1894), Cocoroc South and Cocoroc West.

Beef production became a profitable sideline, despite a scare about beef measles during the 1930s. Prize-winning bulls were produced on the Farm. Sheep grazing was usually done by bringing in flocks during the summer.

By the 1960s the availability of private transport increasingly enabled employees to live away from the Farm. The township was shut down by the early 1970s.

In addition to the land and grass filtration systems there are about 1,500 ha. of coastal lagoons for sewage purification. They have become a haven for birdlife and have been designated as a wetland of international importance by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Metropolitan Farm’s census populations were 379 (1933), 477 (1947) and 129 (1966).

Further Reading:

  • Dingle, Tony and Rasmusden, Carolyn, Vital Connections: Melbourne and its Board of Works 1891-1991, Penguin Books Australia Ltd., 1991.

20 thoughts on “Metropolitan Farm”

  1. my great uncle john robert todd worked at the metropolitian farm in 1910, where could I get more info. regards lisa

    1. hi Lisa, very difficult finding information re your request. The best place to start maybe the Melbourne Water (used to be MMBW) head office in Melbourne. Not too sure if they have archives – but I think they would.

      Aside – I lived and went to school at Cocoroc and was in the last intake of students there in 1970. My mother ran the Cocoroc post office until it closed. 3 generations of my family worked at the farm. Have many memories – but unfortunately no photos. In fact – the photos of the time seem rare. I lived on the Werribee farm for the first 7 years of my life. Remember the names – Ryan’s, Saddlers’, Smith’s.

      I will be interested to know if you find anything. Please let me know.

      Regards.

      1. Hi Michael ,, you must have known my Family my Dad Mum .. Bessie and Bill Cameron and my sisters Shirley Eileen Lorraine and my brother Bill ..from what I have been told we lived in 3 houses on the farm and also lived near the Bull Ranch opposite the Smiths ..

      2. Great to read. Fond memories of the farm and school and the kids I taught.

      3. Hi.. My brother and sisters all went to school there but that would have been up to 1950 my family the Cameron’s lived there my Dad Bill (sunshine) Cameron was a Drover on the Bull Ranch .. My sisters name Shirley , Lorraine , Eileen and Bill my brother also my cousin Pat Powell .. Regards Yvonne Cameron

    2. wally arnott teacher cocoroc 169 till closure happy to provide any info if i can

  2. I lived on the Boards farm from 1946–1958 with my parents (at Murtcaim)until I married in 1958 also I worked there from 1950–1989, my wife was born on the farm in1938 went to school at Cocoroc lived there until our marriage in 1958. During my working life with the farm I worked in construction and sewage treatment also I was president of the farm social club, during my time as president there was a lot of farm history gathered and put on show in the farm hall for when the social club organised and run a back to the Boards Farm event for past workers and families that have lived on the farm this was a big event held on the footy oval about 200 past and present workers attended.

    (I would like to be notified of any tours of the farm that might be held in the future)

    1. Hi Donald, I was out at Cocoroc recently and was intrigued but the football oval and the old pavilion/rooms. I would love to know more about the history of the team, their colours and landmark games if you have any info/photos. Thanks for your time!
      Shane

    2. Hello Donald, If you happen to see this message I would be very interested to talk to you further about Metro Farm and the footy team. They went by the name The Herefords, after the cows out at Cocoroc, and I’m compiling a history of the club, including their colours and the team song. I’ve got a couple of lines from A.J. McDermott who worked out at the farm, but i was hoping for some more in-depth info. please email me on mcgrathshane@hotmail.com. It would be great to hear from you. All the best, Shane McGrath

    3. Hi Donald .. Did you know any of my family The Cameron’s my dad was a drover there on the Bull Ranch ?

  3. Hello all,

    I acknowledge this post comes quite late but i stumbled across this blog in search of more information about the football team based at the sewage farm – ‘Sewer Rats’.

    As Heritage Services Coordinator at Melbourne Water, I would be pleased to follow up on any stories as we would like to embark on an oral history program. Accordingly, would relish capturing your connections.

    Cheers Paul

  4. Hi Paul I have just read your request about the farm football team I have never heard the team referred to as “sewer rats” my wife’s farther was a trainer in the mid 1940 and we followed the team for many years and knew a lot of the players if you read my entry dated October 11th you would have noted that my wife and I had a lot to do with the farm from early 1940 to 1989

  5. We lived on the Ranch and my father was Bill (sunshine) Cameron he was a Drover and we lived opposite the Smiths ..
    I would love to know some history and able to get some Pictures
    Thanks Yvonne Cameron

  6. I have been going through the Census for my great grandfather James Wallace and from the 1919 – 1937 census he and his wife Alice lived at Metropolitan Farm and any information would be greatly appreciated thanks

    1. My family lived on the Farm for many years until my father Charles Haynes retired in 1948. My brother Arthur married Tess Wallace, whose family also lived on the Farm. We lived on the Geelong Road, 3 miles from Werribee. I am happy to help with information if I can.

  7. Have been researching the family tree. Charles Hickey married Elsie May Benstead in 1926. The 1949 Census records show them both living/working at Metropolitan Farm. They appeared to have no children. If anyone knows of this couple I would be grateful to hear from you e: izzon@outlook.com. Thank you

  8. I worked in the Metro. Farm management under Mr Forest from 1960 to 61 when living on the family farm at Toynes Rd, ,Little River, at the foot of the You Yangs. Main duties concerned farm plantations and weed control. At that time in 1951, I was President of the Werribee Young Farmers Club. The club purchased a primary school building located just south of the Melbourne – Geelong Highway about 4 km from the Little River turnoff . We moved it to the Soldiers Reserve in Werribee where it became the YFC club house.
    I would like to ask the former teachers – could this have been one of the primary school buildings mentioned in the article above – ” The schools were Cocoroc 1894, Cocoroc South, and Cocoroc West.” ???

    1. I worked in the Metro. Farm management under Mr Forest from 1960 to 61 when living on the family farm at Toynes Rd, ,Little River, at the foot of the You Yangs. Main duties concerned farm plantations and weed control. At that time in 1951, I was President of the Werribee Young Farmers Club. The club purchased a primary school building located just south of the Melbourne – Geelong Highway about 4 km from the Little River turnoff . We moved it to the Soldiers Reserve in Werribee where it became the YFC club house.
      I would like to ask the former teachers – could this have been one of the primary school buildings mentioned in the article above – ” The schools were Cocoroc 1894, Cocoroc South, and Cocoroc West.” ???

  9. Started working at the farm 1988 .
    And still here as a contractor these days.
    Earlier posts brought back memories and names of people i have worked with.
    Wallaces ,Ryans,Mckane, hotdog,marmie,

  10. If anyone knows any info on Ernest Ord who married amielia was a Brassil had children with last name Brassil would appreciate it doing a family tree & have traced back to metro farm at this stage. Thanks

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