The Victorian Gold Rush
The alluvial gold fields of central Victoria were the richest ever discovered, with nuggets literally waiting to be picked up off the ground.
William’s Town had been the only seaport for infant Melbourne and catered for the infrequent shipping. However, due to the Victorian gold rush of the early 1850s the seaport’s growth was phenomenal; thousands of gold seekers began to arrive, many from the tin mines of Cornwall, and many more from the Californian gold fields.
To quote from ‘Williamstown Heritage Walks’:
“Ships crammed into Hobsons Bay and shops, pubs, and ship repair works sprang up along the Nelson Place shoreline. By 1870 Williamstown was known as the major cargo port of Victoria, with piers, slipways, shipwrights, and gangs of wharfies, all working along the shore opposite Nelson Place. As well, the Customs Department, pilots, the Victorian Navy, and the Harbour Trust all established bases in Williamstown.”