Gem Pier is located at the end of Syme Street in Williamstown. The Pier is still widely used and remains a centre of activities. The great views of the city one can have from here is just a bonus. HMAS Castlemaine is permanently berthed at Gem Pier and serves as a maritime museum. Visitors can experience the life of the crew members and see inside of the ship which exhibits wide range of artefacts documenting Australia’s maritime history.
Melbourne Seaplanes are based near Gem Pier and provides the visitors an opportunity to view the city skyline and surrounding bays and coastal beaches from the air. Ferry services run from Southbank and St Kilda to Gem Pier.
The Commonwealth Reserve at the foreshore is studded with objects of historical importance and have a children’s playground. Williamstown’s craft market is held in the Commonwealth Reserve from 10am to 4pm on the third Sunday of each month.
History of Gem Pier
On the 1st of June 1837, following the subdivision by Robert Hoddle, Hugh Maclean purchased the land he had built his home on in 1834. A ferry service was established by Hugh Maclean, which ran from Gem Pier to Port Melbourne. The Passengers would light a signal fire and make smoke on the distant shore to alert the boat to impending business. Transport across the bay cost five shillings.
Gem Pier was the first landing place in Williamstown and it is here people arrived at or left Williams Town.
A 33.5 stone Jetty was built here using convict labour sent from NSW in January 1839. The Pier was known as The Williamstown Jetty until 1855. This was the first substantial wharf built in Port Phillip. In 1854 further additions were made to the Jetty. During this time Ann Street Pier was under construction so the Jetty was also known as Old Jetty or Old Town Pier. In 1877 Melbourne Harbour Trust was constituted and the Jetty came under the management of Harbour Trust. In 1886 Old Town Pier was lengthened by 100feet. A dredge deepened the berths at the reconstructed Pier.
In the 1860’s and 70’s the Pier was referred as Steam Boat Pier. From the 1870’s it was widely referred as Gem Pier. It got the name Gem Pier from the paddle steamer that operated between Williamstown and Port Melbourne. Gem provided regular steamer service between Port Melbourne and Williamstown for forty years from 1868 to 1908. In the 1880s, the pier was known as either Steam boat Pier or Gem Pier.
There was a boat ramp next to Gem Pier by 1892, created for the use of Water Police, who brought bay found dead bodies ashore to be taken to the nearby morgue.
In 1927 the old pier structure was demolished and replaced with a new structure with a budget of £7112 . H.E Asher of North Williamstown was awarded the contract by the Harbour Trust. In years before the demolition, the pier was found unsuitable for larger steamships as it does not go far enough to reach deep water. The Pier was rebuilt again in 1992 and lengthened in 2003.
Address: 1 Syme St, Williamstown VIC 3016
Open 24 Hours