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