Beaches, natural reserves, heritage attractions and a relaxed pace… in Hobsons Bay, it’s hard to believe you’re just 15 minutes from the centre of Melbourne.
Jump on the train or take a relaxing ferry ride from Southbank in Melbourne’s CBD and you’ll soon find yourself in the City of Hobsons Bay. If you’re looking for an idyllic way to spend a day, you’ve come to the right place. With water all around — both Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River are right on the doorstep — and a number of suburbs with a village vibe, you’ll soon forget the bustle of daily life.
Outdoor types will think Christmas has come early, as they discover all there is on offer. The 23km Bay Trail, a path shared by cyclists and pedestrians, follows the picturesque foreshore. Walking along here offers amazing views of the bay, West Gate Bridge and Melbourne’s sparkling skyline. (Just to prove you’ve not journeyed too far.)
There’s the chance to get your feet wet, too. On a summer day, Williamstown Beach, with its glistening stretch of sand, draws swimmers and those who just want to dip their toes. Behind the beach is Logans Reserve, a shady park that’s a great place to spread out a picnic and watch people going by.
Williamstown was the first permanent settlement on Port Phillip Bay, and history is spread throughout the suburb. Jump on the Enterprize, a replica of John Pascoe Fawkner’s schooner that sailed from Tasmania with Melbourne’s first permanent white settlers, and go sailing. If maritime history floats your boat (pardon the pun), Seaworks Maritime Precinct has a number of piers, slipways, jetties and buildings recognised by Heritage Victoria. It’s also the home of HMAS Castlemaine, a decommissioned World War II corvette — on weekends and public holidays visitors can take a tour of the ship and check out its bridge, officers’ cabins and engine room.
Hobsons Bay is a great place for kids. Obviously, they’ll love a trip to the beach and the chance to eat fish and chips by the water, but there are lots of other opportunities for fun here. Bring their bikes and ride along the foreshore, visit Scienceworks and marvel at how the world works, and note the third Sunday of the month in your diary so you can treat them to a ride on a scale diesel or steam train at the Altona Miniature Railway. On a beautiful day, take them to Cherry Lake to watch for pelicans or throw a line in at one of the piers and see if they can catch lunch.
Explore the major streets in the suburbs here — Altona, Spotswood, Newport and Williamstown —and you might be surprised by what else you’ll find. A whole new crop of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops has sprung up offering the best in gourmet and retail experiences. You can even drop by Two Birds Brewing in Spotswood to taste the beers made two local female brewers. Now that’s the perfect way to end a special day in Hobsons Bay.