Williamstown - A Rich History And Many -Firsts'
Just 9km from the CBD and encompassed by Bass Straight’s ocean and our tranquil Port Phillip Bay, Williamstown is frequented by many, particularly on a warm Sunday afternoon. Visitors flock to the Strand to enjoy the markets and shops, eat fish and chips on the grass overlooking Gem Pier, dine on the footpath under the lazy sunshine, or by the children treats at one of the many ice cream shops.
Home to 14,000 people, Williamstown continues to attract aspiring homebuyers who find themselves falling in love with the heritage charm and maritime flavour of this beautiful suburb. It is interesting to note though the number of house and unit sales in Williamstown. Unlike it’s neighbouring counterpart Yarraville (which also has a very similar allotment size and population figure), Williamstown’s total number of house and unit sales respectively in 2017 was 146 and 56, unlike Yarraville’s at 171 and 62. This is a significant percentage differential (15% less) and it reinforces the meaning of the phrase “tightly held”. Williamstown is indeed a family-friendly area and is home to many school aged-children thanks to the highly prized school zone but in particular is popular with retirees and downsizers. For many local inner- westies, the idea of a retirement peppered with long beach walks, waterfront dining, ferry commutes and easy access to the CBD by train holds a lot of appeal.
Local auctioneers often remind their crowd of buyers of the infrequency of beautiful home sales and in this postcode, they have every reason to make this claim.
Williamstown’s iconic offerings are widely appreciated among Melburnians, but few would appreciate some of this beautiful suburb’s history and string of ‘firsts’. In 1835, Williamstown was Victoria’s first stop for cargo unloading (initially named Port Harwood and later known as Port Gellibrand). Williamstown was initially considered (alongside Melbourne and Geelong) as an option for Victoria’s capital city. It became Victoria’s first port and remained active until the end of the century.
In 1854 Williamstown experienced three more firsts:
Australia's first telegraph line operated between Melbourne and Williamstown, and in the same year the first railway in Australia was built locally, offering a service between Port Melbourne and Flinders St. The Williamstown Chronicle was also established, being Victoria's first newspaper.
Today Williamstown offers a beautiful kaleidoscope of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses, beautiful old brick pubs, Victoria's oldest post office and notable historic buildings constructed by convict labour. The rich history has been superbly preserved and along the bay's coast, the old boatyards and slips are still active today, hidden behind private gates and offering the lucky few a taste of yesteryear's maritime world.
Some of the Melbourne's prettiest grand Victorian homes with wrap-around balcony can be spotted in some of the finest streets such as Hannan Street, Osbourne St, Victoria St and along the Strand: 59 Verdon Street & 89 Esplanade.
For those who are lucky enough to call Williamstown home, they won't find any surprise in the recommendation for visitors to explore the stunning Williamstown Botanical Gardens (another 'first' for Victoria), climb aboard the HMAS Castlemaine for a wander along the Strand on a warm afternoon or stop for a coffee and browse some of the shops along bustling Ferguson St.
Offering a gorgeous vista across the water to Melbourne's city, St Kilda beach and Brighton, it's hard for locals to imagine a life on the other side.