Historic Williamstown

Williamstown; one of Melbourne’s oldest and most interesting suburbs, has long been a sought after destination for exceptional wedding day photography. Serendipity Photography are inspired by the incredible potential this charming location, which achieves a beautiful harmony of picturesque bay views, charming historic buildings, great accessibility and peaceful atmosphere.

Williamstown — A History

The first European settlers arrived to the area by ship in 1803, where they subsequently explored the harbour and drew up some of the earliest maps. It wasn’t until 1853 that the location was once again revisited King William IV who was at the time of discovery the reigning monarch of England, was the namesake for the port of Williamstown. The town’s position at the mouth of the Yarra River, excellent urban potential and accessibility to Port Philip Bay, meant that it was initially considered as the site for the city of Melbourne!

Fate deemed Williamstown (primarily for its insufficiency of fresh water) not the place to form Melbourne, and instead its sheltered harbour soon made Williamstown an ideal port. In the years following settlement, the town became the first point of call for the majority of cargo bound for Melbourne, as Williamstown was established as the first shipping Port in Victoria.

The early years saw Williamstown as a quiet harbour town — the first census recorded a mere 259 inhabitants, however this small port was quickly growing, and would soon become landmark of Melbourne. In 1838 a thirty metre pier was constructed out of stone, this history can still be salvaged today as the site is now the place where the picturesque Gem Pier stands. By 1839, over a hundred buildings were established in the then centre of Williamstown; Nelson Place, establishing the town as a popular region for families, boasting a rare blend of prospering economy and authentic regional landmarks and values.

A defining period of the town — a time which saw significant economic and population growth — was the Victorian Gold Rush. Gold seekers from Europe and America flocked to the town on their way to the gold fields in the north west, transforming Williamstown  from a quaint colonial settlement to a viable township. The opening of the Williamstown Post Office in 1950 marked the beginning of an exciting shift in the region. Means of communication between Williamstown and Melbourne increased exponentially, with the erection of the first telegraph line in Australia established in 1854, and a railway between the two towns  opened the same year.

The great prosperity of the Gold Rush enriched Williamstown with grand hotels, shops,beautiful parklands and some magnificent houses many of which still remain today, striking a gorgeous selection of backdrops for wedding day photography.

Today Williamstown retains all the coherence and charm of a maritime village, yet with the convenience and modern sophistication of a contemporary city. This location functions as a stunning complement for many different types of wedding themes and styles. Strolling down Nelson Place, newlyweds can take in the rustic charm of the harbour, where heritage listed buildings and atmospheric scatterings of fishing boats, sleek yachts and historic ships decorate the shoreline, perfect interesting wedding day photography.

Rustic Piers

Gem Pier is one of Williamstowns most iconic landmarks and a popular location for unique wedding day photography. Dating back to the early 1850’s, Gem Pier was first known as the Steamboat Pier, before earning its current title — after its namesake Gem, the historic paddle steamer which ran the first ferry service from Williamstown to Port Melbourne between 1846 and 1886.

The 145 metre pier boasts a myriad of interesting features and beautiful vistas; perfect for capturing unique wedding day photographs. Brides and grooms can stroll romantically along the impressive scaled pier, inspired by the rustic timber panelling, white timber edging and the soft shimmer of the water surrounding. Couples who share a facisnation for shipping culture might consider the naval museum featuring the historic HMAS Castlemaine and the Melbourne Seaplanes, both of which can be found on the generous expanse of the pier.

Amongst Serendipity’s favourite locations is the lesser known, yet wonderfully picturesque Williamstown Pier. Located just past Gellibrand Point, this distinctive pier offers

The Lighthouse

The Williamstown Lighthouse is another iconic landmark — offering a striking compositional element romantic wedding day photographs. Designed by architect Henry Ginn in 1852, this Gothic style bluestone tower has long served as a beacon both for approaching ships and newly wed couples looking for a touch of enchanting history on their special day.

Picturesque Gardens

In the heart of the town, the beautiful Williamstown Botanic Gardens provide an enchanting setting for wedding day photographs. This intimate public garden is abundant with a rich variety of native flora and lush greenery, circt on one side by the lovely Post Philip, couples can catch glimpses of the sparkling bay as they stroll through the peaceful gardens — perfection!


Serendipity have had the great fortune of capturing a beautiful selection of recent weddings based in Williamstown, so we are looking forward to bringing our readers more of our favourite wedding day photographs, and landmark destinations soon! If you, like many other Serendipity couples, have had a beautiful experience at a location around Williamstown we would love to hear your tips and perhaps future plans!

With its diverse range of  historic locations and breathtaking venues, Serendipity recommend the town as an exciting destination for exceptional wedding day photography.


One Response to “Historic Williamstown”
  1. Romina 19 April 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    We chose Williamstown because it has relaxed sense and there is so much history. We like the vintage aspects and the old houses and the mix with the urban feel! Matt’s sister was married there so it has a lot of sentimental appeal.

    Serendipity have done a marvellous job in catching all the angles and feeling of the in different shots. The colours really pop!

    Thanks Romina and Mathew

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