The Steam Packet Hotel, established 1863.

The Steam Packet Hotel has always been one of the leading hotels in the city and had a strong association with the thriving nineteenth century port of Williamstown. It is currently one the oldest licensed venues in Victoria.

The two-storey building was built in 1863 to replace an 1839 original building called the Ship Inn. On 7th January 1839, James Fawns took out a license for the Ship Inn which became Williamstown’s first hotel. In the mid 1940’s, the Ship Inn was serving as a boarding house and a bakery run by Mr Jennings. It was then in 1850 that Mr Jennings took out a license for the building, originally wanting to call it the Governor Arthur after the paddle steamer which provided a passenger and goods service between Melbourne and Williamstown. Rumour has it that Jennings changed his mind as another Governor Arthur was quite unpopular in Victoria at the time therefore keeping the original name.

In 1861, a fire destroyed several shops and the Old Ship Inn. Two years later in 1863, the new building was completed and the current Steam Packet Hotel was born.

The Crews family took over the hotel in the 1920’s and remained in their possession until 1978, when on the death of Dick, the pub was sold for $256,000. In 1981 plans were drawn up to convert the pub into six story hotel complex, this was met with strong resistance from locals and the plans were scrapped. Eventually an alternate plan to build apartments where the beer garden and drive through bottle shop were approved and they were subsequently built.

Architecturally, the Steam Packet Hotel is in the conservative Classical style and is notable for its detailing. Constructed on stone plinth, the stuccoed structure has a string course and parapet with cornice. Other distinctive features include the angled corner, window and door frames and the prominent chimneys. The oldest part of the building is the cellar which dates from the times of the original Ship inn and therefore outdates the rest of the building by almost 20 years.

The Packet is still going strong, more than 150 years after it was built. It has a strong presence in the local community and is also a destination for good food and drink for any visitors to Williamstown. Come in and ask our staff about our resident ghost or look at some of the pictures around the walls (See if you can spot the donkey).