Since tankers couldn’t navigate the Yarra River, this maritime village was intended to be Victoria’s port and capital. Due to a shortage of fresh water, Melbourne became the state capital while Williamstown remained an important port and ship building site.
The region around Williamstown, as well as greater Melbourne, was once inhabited by the Kulin Nation. When these lands were taken over by white settlers, many Aborigines died from European diseases, others were forced to moved away.
When I left the pier there was no sign of this Aboriginal past. Instead, the main streets were lined with old buildings with a pub on nearly every corner. In fact, during the gold rush era when prospectors arrived from Cornwall and the Californian gold fields and disembarked in Willisamstown, there were once as many as forty pubs. I couldn’t help feel the contrast between those riotous days and my relaxed meandering along quiet tree lined streets.