Port Melbourne, which has been welcoming seafarers since the dawn of white settlement, is a timeless bridge between the past and present. While it boasts some of Melbourne’s oldest colonial buildings, Port’s new residential precincts have elevated it to the ranks of the city’s trendiest suburbs.
Only ship and railway yards define the buffer between the Port and the Melbourne CBD and a brisk walk takes you back in time through such spectacular old buildings as the National Estate registered Swallow and Ariell Steam Biscuit Factory, which once supplied hard tack for the crews of ships tied up at the Sandridge Wharves. It was, in fact, the first industrial factory built in Victoria.
Not as ancient,but just as photographic, is the Port Melbourne Lighthouse.
The first whites to settle in The Port were Wilbraham Liardet and his extensive family who built a jetty, watchtower and a hotel which still operates as a café in Beach Street. At one time The Port was reputed to have 'a pub on every corner,' but by the time a group of temperance zealots known collectively as The Rechabites had their way, the suburb was down to 19 hotels by the end of World War II.
Several of the old colonial pubs, however, remain, including The Rex (opened in 1859 as The Victoria), the Hibernian (1869), the Prince Alfred (1868) and the Rose & Crown (1875).