|City of Melbourne from the Williamstown ferry|
|Port of Melbourne tugs lined up ready for action|
|Historic buildings, Nelson Place|
Stepping off the ferry I found Williamstown to be a sleepy place, a bit scruffy around the edges and still in the throes of turning itself into an historic village. There is an excellent information centre adjoining the reserve by the pier where you can pick up self guided walking maps and the Customs House (1874), nearby, is a fine building housing a marine themed gift shop and an art gallery. The main streets, Nelson Street and The Strand have some attractive old buildings but it was disappointing to find that they housed nothing more than a couple of non descript shops and some very ordinary eateries.
It is important to get a map and to do a walking tour because the gems are well hidden amongst some very tired and run down parts of the town. The botanical gardens are well worth a look. Although small they are very pretty. Walk through the gardens and you come to the lovely golden sand Williamstown beach. Further around the coast is the rare, fully operational, Timeball Tower. This was invaluable to 19th century ships whose crews were able to set their chronometers by the timeball which dropped at exactly 1pm each day.
I wandered around for a couple of hours, seeking out the historic buildings amongst the industrial and badly run down. One of the most bizarre things I saw was a pub called The Titanic, complete with a replica of the ship's superstructure and funnels covering the roof.
As I walked back to the ferry a young teenage girl fell into step with me. She was lost and asked me the way and we walked together for some time. She said she had arrived by train from central Melbourne to meet some friends and that her mother had been concerned about her going to Williamstown as it had had a bad reputation in the past. She told me her mother was just remembering what it was like in her youth when it was a seedy place but that it has improved since then. She was an absolute delight as she chatted in her disarming way....she made my day.