So much to Explore in Williamstown
Historical Sites, Museums, Libraries and So Much More
Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park
Battery Road, Williamstown
Point Gellibrand has a rich history. It was the site of Victoria’s first permanent settlement and seaport and was crucial to the initial growth of the state. Immerse yourself in Victoria’s colonial past by visiting Fort Gellibrand, retrace Ned Kelly’s steps along Battery Road, marvel at the ingenuity of early mariners at Timeball Tower or step back to a time when Point Gellibrand’s piers were the only gateway to a new colony.
Geoffrey Blainey has described Point Gellibrand at Williamstown as an Australian heritage ‘sacred site’, the only other place in Australia comparable with the site of the First Fleet’s landing. Here was the landing place for Victoria’s first white settlers, and Williamstown’s first burial ground (1842) was situated here. Point Gellibrand was also the site of the Southern Hemisphere’s first telegraph station (1854), and the place where Victoria’s navy was established.
There have been other uses for this hallowed ground: bluestone was quarried here by convicts (including Ned Kelly), and busy railway workshops were situated here before the railways moved that function to Newport, further up the peninsula. Much of the bluestone was used as ballast for cargo ships returning to London, and a number of London buildings, particularly in the docks area, are constructed from Point Gellibrand bluestone.
It had a more sombre function too, in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Victorian Colony was not founded on convict settlement, as most of the Australian colonies were. However, Victoria did have an imported convict population, kept on five rotted and filthy prison hulks off Point Gellibrand (1852-1859). During the day the ill-used convicts quarried bluestone from Point Gellibrand. Today visitors to Point Gellibrand can see an anchor reputed to be from one of the prison hulks on display near the Timeball Tower.