Situated where the Yarra River flows into Port Phillip, Williamstown is a historic suburb and maritime hub to the southwest of Melbourne’s CBD. It flourished as the Victorian capital’s first seaport following the gold rush of the 1850s and in recent years has been transformed from a run-down industrial area into a trendy neighborhood.

Ferguson Street and Douglas Parade are the main streets in Williamstown and lined with charming 19th-century buildings. Many have been converted into restaurants, cafes and art galleries, as well as one-of-a-kind boutiques to explore.

The historic Gem Pier juts into Port Phillip Bay from the Commonwealth Reserve, with magnificent views of Melbourne’s city skyline. It’s also here that the HMAS Castlemaine museum ship can be found, having served in World War II and been lovingly restored by volunteers. The Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park sweeps around the southeastern edge of Williamstown and is home to the Fort Gellibrand military site and the Timeball Tower that once played a critical role in assisting ships through these waters.

Wander through the Williamstown Botanic Gardens that lies on the western edge of the suburb, with a number of rare trees, a stunning palm avenue and an Edwardian-style ornamental pond. Just beyond is the Jawbone Conservation Reserve and Marine Sanctuary where you can go fossicking in the rock pools or take a dip at nearby Williamstown Beach.

Williamstown is connected to Melbourne’s CBD by train and public bus services. The area is easily explored on foot or you can rent bicycles to get around.