Just across the West Gate Bridge from the city is Williamstown. It was originally, with its natural harbour, laid out as the port to the main settlement of Melbourne in 1837. It thrived for forty years, before the deepening of the Yarra River and the development of the Port of Melbourne led to its demise and being forgotten about for many years.
With many of the old port buildings of the 19th century still standing, it has been rediscovered in recent years and has now become something of a destination 'burb - trendy apartments, fancy bars, good restaurants and a safe bay beach (and a new marina). Its a great place to spend the day - it also offers some of the best views of Melbourne - and if you want a closer view, take the seaplane for a quick 15 minute trip over the centre and bay.
Getting there is pretty straightforward - train from any central Melbourne stations on the Loop (take Werribee train and change at Newport) - 20-30 minutes according to connections.
A diiferent way of getting there is to take the little 'ferry' boat from St Kilda Pier (45 minutes) that will take you across the Bay.
Great views of the Melbourne Skyline. Lots of cafes, restaurants and a few pubs. Its nice, quiet and lovely to walk around. Gets pretty lively along the waterfront on the weekends. Lots of beautifully maintained wooden cottages in orginal condition. Has a real village feel. We stayed for 4 days at the Stag's Head pub. Nice big, clean though basic rooms. Very friendly staff.. good old fashioned Aussie pub. We really enjoyed it! About $55 a double.
Over the past 10 years, the sleepy sea-side suburb of Williamstown, 6km SW of the CBD has become a very popular spot for Melburnian's to visit. With great views of the city, a strip featuring small cafe's, boutique fashion and novelty stores, and restaurants with varied cuisines.
This suburb, perched on a point in Port Phillip Bay, was once immersed very heavily in Melbourne's maritime history.
As with many places like this throughout Australia, when ship sizes changed and they dredged further inland, it became somewhat redundant, drifting inexorably into a nothingness until places like this started to be redeveloped and interest heightened for times past.
These days tourists in some numbers have found the place, especially on weekends, and the old style residences have become sought after instead of tumbledown.
The blocks facing the harbour are now lined with restaurants and other types of tourist haunts. One suspects more of the buildings will follow suit.
In pic 4 you can see a building still used for its original purpose. It's The Chronicle building, home of Victoria's first suburban newpaper, and today it's still used as a house of printing. Matthew Barry Wright started Hi-Mark Press in Ferguson Street Williamstown in 1967. He moved to the current premises in the old Chronicle Building in 1974.
Maritime history is usually really interesting, affected in no uncertain manner by the vagaries of the weather.
The building in the main pic is actually the old Customs House whilst number two has a couple of items of interest, the anchor coming from a ship (HMS Bellerephon) that served under Nelson at Trafalgar (see also my Tenterfield tips). The anchor was used by the HMVS Nelson, the only naval ship owned by an Australian colony. The small building in the background used to be the home of a tidal gauge, built by convicts and last used in 1943 before being moved here from Point Gellibrand.
The HMAS CASTLEMAINE in the last pic is owned and operated by the Maritime Trust of Australia and volunteers.
The Castlemaine is open every weekend 12 noon to 5 pm and weekdays by appointment for school and adult groups Phone (03) 9397 2363 weekends or (03 9853 0823 before 10 am weekdays.
Today, visitors can visit the painstakingly refurbished WW II minesweeper. Inspect the 4 inch gun, the bridge complete with wheel, compasses, radar screen and more.
See the chart house where the navigator worked over his charts, see the refurbished officers cabins and their wardroom.
Get down amongst the powerful reciprocating steam engines. Find out how to 'flash up' a boiler.
Visitors can also inspect in what was the crew's mess. a fascinating collection of nautical exhibits and memorabilia of the past, recording important aspects of Australia's heritage. The ship is close to Williamstown Railway Station.
When the ship is open for inspection (and later on line) an interesting variety of souvenirs are available for sale. The range includes postcards, fridge-magnets, baseball caps with the ship's logo, wineglasses featuring the ship's badge and a short history, a booklet of the ship's history and other objects of interest. See the quartermaster.
It's situated at the Gem Pier, named after a ferry that used to run here.
Admission: Adults $5.00 Children: (4 -16) $2.50 Family: Two adults and two children: $12.50 No concessions.
When the Coode Canal was completed in 1887, Melbourne became the main dock for shipping as well, and Williamstown slowly subsided into a largely forgotten, almost rural, village backwater, where an unparalleled collection of lovely old buildings and houses was able to survive the short-sighted cultural devastation of the 1950s and 1960s.
The first pic shows the Steam Packet Hotel, built in the 1850's to replace the original Ship Inn from the 1830's.
I love the little cottage in pic 3, the colours are delightful.
The building on the left in pic 4 was originally the home of pilots and mariners and is one of the oldest surviving mansions, dating from 1859. For 40 years Miss Cathcart conducted a school here.
Picture 5 shows the multicultural nature of eating in Melbourne, the Breizoz French Creperie standing at the first T intersection you come to as you leave the Gem Pier.
Williamstown is an sub-urban area of Melbourne. It is an easy and beautiful place to visit in Melbourne. This town is away from Melbourne CBD district, cause everything is very peaceful, slow, relax, small colonial classic town which is different from other parts of Melbourne. In fact, you can reach here by a 15-minutes metro train or by a 30-minutes ferry from Southgate.
It is a perfect location for the city folks to get away for city rush to relax and spend time with family.
I took the metro train to Williamstown Station, walked toward to the coastal park area (Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park). I saw blue sky with beautiful blue water and black rocks. I managed to see locals brought their dogs to walk and play in the park. After that, I walked toward north of Thompson St to reach the town center. I wondered around and stopped by the visitor centre, and bought a A$10 ferry ticket to ride the ferry to Southgate.
I like this place.
If you want to enjoy the ferry ride for a longtime and to visit this very small town, then its a great option to visit this place. You ca take a ferry from the Yarra river (next to Flinders station). It takes approx 45-60 minutes to reach Williams town from this place...you can also book the tickets for both the ways. Alternatively you can reach there by Train or car. Apart from a stretch of nice restaurants which caters to all types of people...ranging from French, Italian, Indian, Chinese etc...there is tiny beach...which is quite nice.
You can also take a scenic flight (its expensive for me). View of Melbourne is beautiful from here. there are lot of yatches docked there...even noticed a yatch with a restaurant in it...where you can have a romantic dinner (sorry I could get much information...since there is no at the yatch when I visited...yes its during 2:00pm in the afternoon)
The site near the mouth of the Yarra River, now known as Williams town was first surveyed by Europeans in 1803 but not settled until 1835 and then known as Port Harwood. It became a favoured place to settle because of the sheltered harbour. In 1837 it was renamed Williamstown after the then king of England William IV and it was thought that it would be the capital of the new colony. The first streets were laid out with that in mind. However, lack of an adequate supply of fresh water meant that the capital was moved inland to the site where Melbourne now stands.
The harbour was quite tidal and many ships were holed on anchors of permanently moored vessels with the flukes lurking just below the surface of the water. Consequently many anchors were found with one fluke bent over.
An area of mudflat created by dredging shipping chanels was reclaimed and is now known as Commonwealth Reserve.
Williamstown is known for its many original historic homes featuring 'iron lace'work. It has a popular restaurant scene.
One of the old homes was used as the set of the favourite Aussie police drama 'Blue Heelers' - it was used as the set for the Police Station.
*photo is from Nelson Place along the foreshore*
This is a rediscovered area of Melbourne on the foreshore. There are fantastic cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants, and galleries. You can also take a ferry ride across the bay to see the penguins or back into the CBD.
The Atomic Bar is great by day or night for a social drink or just lazing on the couch, and make sure you try some specialty cakes close by.
The Creperie is a MUST for authentic french crepes done in SO many varieties from savoury to sweet. I recommend the alcoholic cider from Brittagne as an accompaniment. YUM!
Williamstown Lacrosse Club plays at the Fearon Reserve on Saturday at 2.30pm on Saturdays. The fast and physical game often attracts the attention of curious tourists and day-trippers.