Westgate Park

Port Heritage Trail - Site 11

River crossings

During the mid-19th century, the settlements of Williamstown and Melbourne were quite separate from each other. 

In the early 1850s, a ferry service was established between Port Melbourne and Williamstown to avoid a lengthy overland journey between the two settlements. 

The western end of Williamstown Road in Port Melbourne, marks the location of the last ferry service, which was operated by the City of Williamstown between 1873 and 1974.

Various ferries transporting livestock, people and vehicles ran during this period until breakdowns and rising costs closed them. The completion of the West Gate Bridge in 1978 made the service obsolete. 

Relocation of industries

The latter half of the 19th century saw significant changes on the opposite (western) bank of the Yarra, as improved river crossings led to the relocation of industries from other areas of Melbourne to this stretch of the river. By 1880, the factories and wharves of the Victoria Meat Preserving Company, Cuming Smith & Co., and Joshua Brothers Sugar Refinery (later CSR), could be seen from here. 

The environmental considerations and values which apply today were largely non-existent then. The rivers provided transport for raw and finished goods and were also used for dumping waste.

 This stretch of the Yarra River also supported noxious industries similar to those along the Saltwater (now Maribyrnong) River. 

Most factories had their own wharves until the 1880s when all port berthing facilities became the responsibility of the Melbourne Harbor Trust. Then, all wharves on the western side of the Yarra between Francis Street and Somerville Road, Yarraville, were replaced with a single continuous wharf. 

Eastern bank of the river

Apart from the settlement and industries at Sandridge, the eastern side of the river remained largely unoccupied until 1889 when the Timber Wharves berths designed for the transport of timber products were built by the Melbourne Harbor Trust. Surviving piles are further upstream on land and in the river. 

Today’s view

Looking upstream there is a clear view of the modern container terminal facility at Swanson Dock, part of the largest container port in Australia.

Port Heritage Trail - Site 11

River crossings

During the mid-19th century, the settlements of Williamstown and Melbourne were quite separate from each other. 

In the early 1850s, a ferry service was established between Port Melbourne and Williamstown to avoid a lengthy overland journey between the two settlements. 

The western end of Williamstown Road in Port Melbourne, marks the location of the last ferry service, which was operated by the City of Williamstown between 1873 and 1974.

Various ferries transporting livestock, people and vehicles ran during this period until breakdowns and rising costs closed them. The completion of the West Gate Bridge in 1978 made the service obsolete. 

Relocation of industries

The latter half of the 19th century saw significant changes on the opposite (western) bank of the Yarra, as improved river crossings led to the relocation of industries from other areas of Melbourne to this stretch of the river. By 1880, the factories and wharves of the Victoria Meat Preserving Company, Cuming Smith & Co., and Joshua Brothers Sugar Refinery (later CSR), could be seen from here. 

The environmental considerations and values which apply today were largely non-existent then. The rivers provided transport for raw and finished goods and were also used for dumping waste.

 This stretch of the Yarra River also supported noxious industries similar to those along the Saltwater (now Maribyrnong) River. 

Most factories had their own wharves until the 1880s when all port berthing facilities became the responsibility of the Melbourne Harbor Trust. Then, all wharves on the western side of the Yarra between Francis Street and Somerville Road, Yarraville, were replaced with a single continuous wharf. 

Eastern bank of the river

Apart from the settlement and industries at Sandridge, the eastern side of the river remained largely unoccupied until 1889 when the Timber Wharves berths designed for the transport of timber products were built by the Melbourne Harbor Trust. Surviving piles are further upstream on land and in the river. 

Today’s view

Looking upstream there is a clear view of the modern container terminal facility at Swanson Dock, part of the largest container port in Australia.