HMAS Warrego was built in Scotland and then dismantled and shipped to Sydney where she was reconstructed at the Cockatoo Island shipyard to provide it with construction experience. The dockyard would subsequently build three of Warrego's sister ships. Warrego led the Australian destroyer force into Port Jackson as part of the ceremonial entry of the Australian Fleet Unit on 4 October 1913.
Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, Warrego took part in operations against the German Pacific colonies. On 12 August, she landed men as part of the force ordered to take Rabaul and the next month took part in the capture of the German wireless station at Bitapaka and captured the German vessel Nusa. Warrego carried out further patrol operations in New Guinea waters in company with Yarra and Parramatta. In December, accompanied by Parramatta and Nusa she steamed over 300 kilometres up the Sepik River to check for any German presence.
Warrego returned to Australia in February 1915 and was employed on patrol work locally and in Malayan, Philippines and East Indies waters. In May 1917, with Yarra and Parramatta she sailed for the Mediterranean, being joined en route by Swan, Torrens and Huon, thus concentrating the Australian Destroyer Flotilla.
After a brief stop in Malta, the flotilla proceeded to the port of Brindisi in southern Italy. Beginning in October 1917, the flotilla spent much of the next year conducting patrols as part of the blockade of the Adriatic Sea, which was aimed at preventing the passage of enemy submarines and warships sailing from Austrian ports. into the Mediterranean. On 16 November 1917, Warrego was one of several Australian ships that went to the aid of the torpedoed Italian transport Orione. She rescued both troops and crew from the stricken vessel and ferried them to Brindisi. In April 1918 the Australian Destroyer Flotilla was incorporated into the 5th British Destroyer Flotilla. The following month, Warrego made an unsuccessful attempt to tow the torpedoed destroyer HMS Phoenix to port; Phoenix sank within sight of Valona harbour. On 2 October 1918, Warrego, with Swan, screened a force bombarding Durazzo. The two ships then assisted Japanese destroyers convoying troops from Egypt to Salonika.
After the armistice with Turkey was signed, Warrego was part of the Allied fleet that entered the Dardanelles on 12 November 1918. After visiting the Black Sea, Warrego and the rest of the Australian Destroyer Flotilla visited England before returning to Australia in March 1919. Now obsolete, she was laid up, but was recommissioned for training duties between 1924 and 1928. In 1929 she was paid off. Her hulk sank at the Cockatoo Island wharf in 1931 and was subsequently blown up.