Hey all. I’ve been out and about shooting ‘Melbourne Revealed’ for my Youtube Channel of late, and I have shot a couple of episodes over in Melbourne’s western suburbs of Altona and Williamstown. Williamstown is close-ish to the centre of town. There are ferries from the Docklands area of Melbourne to Williamstown – I think they deliver you to Gem Pier in Williamstown. The train isn’t particularly direct and takes around 32 minutes. Altona is a fifteen minute drive in good traffic from Williamstown, maybe less. It’s 38 minutes from the centre of Melbourne (Flinders street station) to Altona train station.
Anyhoo, I live in the south-east of Melbourne, and there’s a bit of a divide here which may not be obvious to the visitor, although really all it takes is to look on a map I guess. The east-west divide is a little classist I guess too, for a long time the western suburbs were considered, at least by people on the other side of the divide, to be the poorer suburbs, the lower-class part of Melbourne. It’s disappointing that this sort of attitude exists, and in my adventures for ‘Melbourne Revealed’ I am planning on returning more to the west of Melbourne to show you Footscray, Werribee and more.
Today attitudes have changed, although they are still there in some respect. Personally, the western suburbs opened up for me back when I started following my football team back in 1990. I was only 15 years old and I didn’t realise that this issue existed. The Yarra river divides Melbourne into east and west up to a point, and at the moment, aside from going north around the top of the Yarra which veers eastwards, is to take the West Gate Bridge which was built many decades ago now. It’s four lanes both ways but it does turn into a bit of a bottleneck at the wrong times of the day.
So in some ways public transport is not a bad option to get over there. But today it’s really a very developed, interesting and attractive part of Melbourne. What do these two suburbs offer the visitor, though?
Well, Altona is not full of things for the tourist, but it does have a really nice beach which is great if you want to get some sun and sand, and perhaps a little swimming in as well. The water takes a while to go deep, there is a long pier that people like to swim and snorkel off (as I did). I didn’t see a heck of a lot out there when I was snorkelling, and the waters were murkier than I was expecting. It wasn’t until I reviewed my footage that I saw the small fish we seemed pretty common. The marine vegetation grows on the pier pillars and that’s got a few interesting colours about it. There was even some kite surfing happening there not to mention beach volleyball. No Rio de Janeiro by any means, but actually not a bad spot for it.
The suburb itself seems pleasant with an interesting mix of new and old houses, and the centre of town, just up from the pier actually has loads of eateries to choose from as well as indoor and outdoor dining. So you won’t go hungry, Chinese, Greek, Aussie palates and more are catered for. Honestly if you’re looking to escape the town for a decent beach you could do worse than head to Altona Beach!
Williamstown does have a few things to see and do, along with a great beach of its own which you can easily wile away a day at. The HMAS Castlemaine is a WWII boat that amongst other things swept for mines. Fun! You can enter the boat and walk around it, there are guides inside who will impart plenty of information if you wish. You can see the cabins set up, the galley, the machine workings of the boat and much more its just that I don’t know the nautical terms! The deck’s also fun to explore. The views aren’t bad, it’s moored on Gem Pier which is another longish pier, quite wide, where at the end you can look back at the inner bay and back to Melbourne.
There’s also a maritime museum which looked interesting but also – closed. Attached to I think an outdoor cinema which would be nice on the right night. As you may know I went snorkelling in the ‘Jawbone’, on the other side to the city of Williamstown. Would have been nicer I think if the tide was in, but certainly had possibilities. That area has a few walking paths through it too and is quite picturesque.
Then there is the Newport Railway Museum – it’s the next suburb along but it’s basically Williamstown. It’s got loads of locomotives and carriages that you can climb all over and it’s great for kids and adults! Closed at the time I visited but planning on opening soon.
There are some botanical gardens near the Williamstown Beach which are very pleasant and could be a spot for a holiday. And the houses are more often than not quite old and historic and just driving around the leafy streets is really interesting.
Folks, both suburb are well worth taking the train out to. The Spotswood Scienceworks Museum isn’t that far from Williamstown too and that’s GREAT if you have kids. This is a part of Melbourne which is slowly becoming more appreciated and I do hope that that continues to happen! Thanks for reading today, and if you do manage to get to Melbourne one day when that becomes possible, perhaps you’ll consider Altona and Williamstown! Thanks for reading, take care, and May the Journey Never End!