The Western suburbs of Melbourne include the areas of Airport West, Caroline Springs, Essendon, Kensington, Flemington, Footscray, Keilor, Melton, Point Cook, Sunshine, Sydenham, Werribee, Williamstown and Yarraville. Many of these suburbs will hold no interest for travellers but a few such as Footscray and Yarraville attract tourists for their restaurants and bars, while Flemington and Moonee Ponds may attract tourists for special events such as horseracing.
- 1 Footscray. Formerly known as a dodgy working-class suburb with large numbers of recently-arrived immigrants, Footscray has reinvented itself. It is well worth a visit, especially if you want to eat well for cheap. It is home to the famous Footscray Market, and many restaurants serving delicious and inexpensive Asian and African cuisine. Footscray is increasingly known for its riverside parks, low-key bars and entertainment.
- 2 Moonee Ponds. The heart of Melbourne's comfortable suburbia, Moonee Ponds is the home of Barry Humphries' character Mrs (later Dame) Edna Everage. The local racecourse is one of Melbourne's Big Three, along with Caulfield and Flemington. With a variety of cafes and restaurants, there is enough here to capture the attention of a traveller for an afternoon.
- 3 Yarraville. An inner suburb with a quaint village atmosphere, known for its restaurants and nightlife. A visit to the historic Sun Theatre is a must.
- 4 Wyndham. A region and local council in the outer suburbs Melbourne. It is south-west of the Melbourne CBD. Wyndham comprises a number of suburbs and towns. The seat of the council and primary settlement is Werribee, which holds the largest number of attractions and services. Point Cook, Werribee South, Hoppers Crossing and Wyndham Vale are other significant suburbs in the area. Wyndham is the third fastest growing area in Australia.
- 5 Hobsons Bay. A seaside area to the immediate south-west of Melbourne's city centre.
- 6 Williamstown. The main tourist town in Hobsons Bay, a suburb steeped in an impressive history. The town was founded in 1835, before Melbourne, and served as the city's main harbour until the turn of the century. Today, it's a popular seaside suburb with a nautical feel, home to a number of both historic and modern ships and more fish and chip shops than you could wish for!
- 7 Spotswood. Home to Grazeland, a large gathering of food and drink carts beneath the iconic Westgate Bridge, and nearby, the interactive Scienceworks museum, which sits along its foreshore.
- 8 Altona. Another seaside suburb, and the home town of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
- 1 Footscray Station. The station can be easily reached from Southern Cross Station (on weekday mornings and weekends) or any City Loop station (on weekday afternoons) (in Melbourne's CBD) on the Werribee, Williamstown and Sunbury lines. If the train is not travelling via the City Loop, it is only a 6-minute train ride and most trains run express through the station before it, South Kensington.
A number of frequent bus routes also operate from the CBD to Footscray. The 402 operates every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends from St Vincents Plaza through the inner-north suburb of Carlton to Footscray. The 220 also operates through Queen Street from Gardenvale to Sunshine via Footscray, operating every 15 minutes on weekdays.
While Footscray is not connected directly to the city by tram, the route 82 from Leeds Street, 150 m from the train station, runs to the Moonee Ponds bus and tram interchange on Mount Alexander Road, which connects with trams to the city and north-western suburbs, with buses that run to the north-west and cut across the northern suburbs.
Trains on both the Werribee and Williamstown lines stop at 2 Yarraville, 3 Spotswood and 4 Newport railway stations. Both lines officially originate at Flinders Street station in the city centre, but most trains come from Frankston. Trains on these lines almost never run through the City Loop, but some trains on the Werribee line run express through Yarraville and Spotswood stations. All trains on the Williamstown line stop at all stations.
At Newport, the lines diverge, with local Werribee trains running through the Altona Loop to Seaholme, Altona and Westona. 5 Altona station is most likely to be useful to a visitor, as it is located just next to the Altona shops and a very short walk from Altona Beach.
The Williamstown line continues to 6 North Williamstown, 7 Williamstown Beach, and 8 Williamstown stations. North Williamstown is closest to the main shopping area in Williamstown, Williamstown Beach is closest to the beach, and Williamstown is closest to Point Gellibrand.
From the city, take the West Gate Freeway. If travelling to Spotswood, Newport or Williamstown, take the Williamstown Road exit (number W6) and turn left (follow signs for Williamstown). If travelling to Altona, take the Millers Road exit (number W7) and turn left (follow signs for Altona).
From Geelong or south-western Victoria, take the Princes Freeway and exit at Kororoit Creek Road (exit 11). Turn left and follow the signs for your destination, as this road connects to multiple suburbs in Hobsons Bay, including both Williamstown and Altona.
There is a bike route from Docklands in the city centre to Altona, and a second from Port Melbourne to Altona. Both go via Spotswood and Williamstown. To ride from Docklands to Williamstown or Altona, start on the bike path on Footscray Road. The cycle path is obvious most of the way, however near the Newport Power Station, there are a few diverging paths. Most of these quickly end or turn into dirt paths, so you'll quickly know if you've gone the wrong way. If in doubt, it can be best to look at a map, although staying right at each fork in the path generally works too.
The route from Port Melbourne is slightly more convoluted and includes a ferry (see below for more details). It could also be easily followed from most eastern bayside suburbs, as the bike path is continuous. From the Bay Trail (which runs along the beach), head east and follow it as it turns up Todd Road, passes under the West Gate Freeway and enters Westgate Park. Within Westgate Park, the path can be difficult to follow, but almost all of the paths form a loop, which means that you should end up in the right place in the end. The correct path goes under the West Gate Freeway again, so looking at a map could be useful at this point. Once out of Westgate Park, the path goes under the West Gate Freeway a third time. About 100 metres beyond the freeway is the Westgate Punt landing jetty. Take the ferry across the Yarra River. The brick building visible ahead is the Pumping Station at Scienceworks. If you're not visiting Scienceworks, turn left on the other side of the pipeline and follow the path. This is the same path as the one from Docklands.
- 9 Westgate Punt, Lorimer Street, Port Melbourne, ☏ . M-F 6:30-9:10AM, 3:40-7PM (operates every 20 mins); Sa Su 9AM-5PM (operates on-demand). Ferry service across the Yarra River, connecting Fishermans Bend and Spotswood. The Spotswood landing is straight across the road from Scienceworks. The journey takes about five minutes. M-F: $3 one way, Sa Su: $5 one way.
- 10 Melbourne River Cruises, Berth 2, Southbank Promenade, Southbank, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Melbourne River Cruises operates a cruising ferry service between Southbank in the city centre and Gem Pier in Williamstown. The approximate journey time is one hour. $33 per person one way.
- 11 St Kilda Ferry, Pier Road, St Kilda, ☏ , email@example.com. The St Kilda ferry primarily runs between St Kilda and Williamstown, however some services also go to Port Melbourne. See the timetable on their website for more details. $22 per person one way.
- 12 Moonee Ponds Junction. The Moonee Ponds tram and bus interchange is at the intersection of Mount Alexander Road, Ascot Vale Road and Pascoe Vale Road. The route 59 tram stops there, heading south to the city and north to Essendon and Airport West. The 82 tram terminates there, connecting Moonee Ponds and Footscray. Buses from the interchange connect Moonee Ponds to the northern suburbs, to north-western suburbs past Essendon, and to Footscray and Williamstown.
- 13 Moonee Ponds Railway Station. On the Craigieburn line, it has trains to and from the city every 20 minutes.
- 14 Werribee railway station. The Werribee railway line terminates at Werribee, with trains direct from the city. A number of other Werribee suburbs also have stations along the line. Check Public Transport Victoria for the latest timetables and service information.
Regional trains on the Geelong and Warrnambool lines call at 15 Tarneit and 16 Wyndham Vale stations. Please note that alighting from these services at Footscray and Sunshine station (from Southern Cross Station) is illegal, and ticket inspectors often wait at the V/Line platforms to issue fines.
Bus route 439 departs from Werribee railway station and goes to Werribee South (which will be of no interest to most visitors) via Werribee Park and the zoo. The service operates roughly hourly in each direction every day of the week, although it is important to note that services leaving Werribee station before about 9AM will not stop at Werribee Park or the zoo. There are also no buses towards Werribee station from Werribee Park or the zoo after about 4:45PM, depending on the day of the week.
The Princes Freeway conveniently connects most Wyndham suburbs to the city centre and Geelong. For the Werribee town centre, get off at the Duncans Road exit-ramp and turn right, about 30 minutes from the city.
- 1 Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street. Non-stop art exhibitions and an endless list of music gigs and theatre shows. In summer outdoor film screenings take place on the banks of the Maribyrnong River.
- 2 VU at MetroWest, 138 Nicholson Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-5PM. A community art space run by Victoria University, whose main Footscray campus is a bit further south along Nicholson Street. Features community and student exhibitions. Free.
- 3 Trocadero Art Space, Level 1, 119 Hopkins Street. W-Sa noon-5PM. Small art gallery upstairs. Click through to their website to see examples from current exhibitions. Free.
- Five Walls, ☏ , email@example.com. W-Sa noon-5PM. Artist-run art space in the same place as Trocadero (above) Free.
- K Road Cliffs, K Road, Werribee. An interesting cliff-face that overlooks the Werribee River, near the golf course. It's possible to launch canoes from the site along the river.
- 4 Moonee Ponds Courthouse Museum, Corner Mount Alexander Road and Kellaway Avenue, Moonee Ponds, firstname.lastname@example.org. Closed. The former Moonee Ponds Courthouse housed a museum of the local area, run by the Essendon Historical Society. In June 2016, a fire damaged the building and the collection. Restoration is happening, but the museum remains closed until further notice.
- 5 Incinerator Gallery, 180 Holmes Rd, Moonee Ponds (catch the 82 tram from Moonee Ponds interchange to Stop 41 at Maribyrnong Park; walk north along the river then turn right into Holmes Street; walk a minute or two along Holmes Street until you reach the gallery, opposite a lawn bowls club), ☏ , email@example.com. Tu-Su 11AM-4PM. Interesting gallery with exhibitions, art history talks, adult art courses, and workshops. Free.
- 6 RAAF Museum, RAAF Base Williams, Point Cook Rd, Point Cook, ☏ , RAAF.MuseumInfo@defence.gov.au. Tu-F 10AM-3PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. The air-force base is still used for flying and training. Houses authentic aircraft in hangars, as well as numerous exhibitions and displays. Conducts free tours of the museum during weekdays. There are also options for pay joy-rides in old military aircraft. Free.
- 7 Queens Park, Corner Mount Alexander Road and Kellaway Road, Moonee Ponds. A place to spend a relaxing day. There's a rose garden, a sunken garden, a lake, a cafe, and a 50-m pool open from November to March ($5.70 pool entry). Monuments include a cenotaph remembering Australia's dead in World War One, and a cairn marking the spot where the doomed Burke and Wills expedition camped on its first night heading out of Melbourne in 1860. There's a children's playground and an island rotunda, and if you follow the website link there's a brochure for a free self-guided local heritage walk starting and ending at the park.
- 8 Werribee Mansion, Gate 2, K Road, Werribee, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Nov-Apr: daily 10AM-5:30PM; May-Oct: M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. An Italianate mansion from the 1870s, built by famous Scottish landlords Thomas and Andrew Chirnside. The building and its 60 rooms have been restored, and an audio tour is available. A café is available nearby. Paid tours depart Su-F at 11:30AM. Adult: $7, student/concession/child: $5, family (two adults and two children): $22.
- Werribee Historical Museum, Cnr Watton St & Duncans Rd, Werribee, ☏ . Sa 10AM-1PM, Tu 10AM-3PM. Houses a collection of artefacts, documents, maps and photos relating to the Werribee area's history.
- 9 Werribee Park, K Road, Werribee. A 10-acre park that used to be pastoral farmland. Includes fruit orchards, flower gardens, sculptures and wide open spaces. Contains many attractions, including Werribee Mansion and Zoo. Free.
- 10 Victoria State Rose Garden, Gate 2, K Road, Werribee, email@example.com. Daily 9AM-5:30PM. Winner of a global award for excellence, the gardens contain 5,000 roses in four interesting shapes. Roses look best from November to April. Free.
- 1 Werribee Open Range Zoo, K Rd (take Werribee Sth exit from Princes Freeway). Daily (including Christmas Day and all public holidays) 9AM-5PM, entry closes at 3:30PM. Sa Su during Jan-Feb open till 9PM. Safari bus tours (50 minute) begin 10:30AM-3:40PM (Jan Feb: Sa Su until 7:40PM). An open range park with animals from the grasslands of Africa, Asia, North America and Australia. $24.80 adult, $12.40 4-15 years.
- 2 Moonee Valley Racecourse, McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds, toll-free: 1300 843 825, firstname.lastname@example.org. See website for race meeting dates and times. One of Melbourne's Big Three horse racing venues, there are several race meetings a month in the busy season from September to March. The famous Cox Plate weight-for-age race is run here in late October each year Most general admission tickets $20, GA for Cox Plate $55.
- 3 Moonee Ponds Clocktower Centre, 750 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds, ☏ , email@example.com. Performing arts centre including drama, dance, music performances and movie screenings.
- 4 Altona Beach. On the "wrong" side of the bay in terms of famous Melbourne beaches, Altona Beach is a strictly locals-only affair. However, because it is a very long, clean, sandy beach, with plenty of parking, it is known as the best beach in Melbourne's west. Altona has a thriving restaurant and cafe district nearby, centred around Pier St. There's even a jetty, and the esplanade is lined with mature trees which provide some shade. Accessible by train and bus, too.
Downtown Footscray has a great community feel, with a dozen streets filled with small businesses. As well as the listings below, Footscray has a number of interesting shops selling traditional African clothing, art and hair products.
While far from being one of Melbourne's shopping destinations, Footscray houses two large markets:
- 1 Footscray Market, 18 Irving Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu W 7AM-4PM, Th 7AM-6PM, F 7AM-7PM, Sa 7AM-5PM; closed Su M. Footscray Market is a fresh produce, meat, poultry and seafood market, catering particularly to the various ethnicities and local restaurants. There's also eateries, nut and coffee stalls, tobacconists and a few variety shops. It has the reputation as one of the cheapest places in Melbourne to shop so if you're cooking for yourself it's definitely worth a look. Or just wander around and enjoy the sights and sounds of business going on around you.
- 2 Konjo African Craft, 87 Irving Street, ☏ . Store selling Ethiopian food and crafts: spices, flours, raw and roasted coffee, pots, wood craft, clothing and jewellery. Also has a cafe.
- 3 Pacific Werribee (formally Werribee Plaza) (on the corner of Heaths and Derrimut Road in Hoppers Crossing, approximately 30 minutes from the Central Business District). A variety of specialty item stores including mens and ladies fashion, banks, beauty and food stores. Has over 150 stores including a 10-screen cinema.
- 4 Bharat Traders, 580 Barkly St West Footscray, ☏ . 10AM-9PM daily. A go-to shop for Indian ingredients, spices, food, homewares and other accoutrements.
The inner western suburbs, in particular Footscray and Flemington, are emerging as major players on Melbourne's food scene. In addition to a strong history of Vietnamese restaurants and noodle shops, particularly on Hopkins Street in Footscray, the inner west is emerging as Melbourne's African (Ethiopian in particular) food hub. Ethiopian cuisine, despite the tired old jokes, is an increasingly popular niche in the West due to its combination of approachability and uniqueness; the food is characterized by stews and curries, many vegetarian or vegan, eaten with a slightly sour flatbread known as injera. The many Ethiopian options available throughout western Melbourne are universally inexpensive, generously portioned, and tasty. Many are buffets, all have extensive vegetarian/vegan options, and some are exclusively vegan.
- 1 Cafe Lalibela, 91 Irving Street, ☏ . Daily 11AM-10PM. Probably the best Ethiopian cuisine in the area, and not a main course over $12. Served in the traditional custom of sharing, the food is poured on layers of injera (flat, sour bread) covering one big plate to be shared by all at the table.
- 2 African Town Cafe, 161 Nicholson Street, ☏ . More Ethiopian cuisine, while local regulars pop in and out for a chat over excellent $2 Ethiopian coffee. All main courses $10.
- 3 Ras Dashen, 121 Nicholson Street, ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-8:30PM, Sa Su 12:30PM- 8:30PM. A whole baked fish for $13, beans and egg in a mild stew for $8, nice dark "Amber Beer" from Ethiopia like a porter or mild stout.
- 4 Dumplings and More, 96 Hopkins Street, ☏ . Daily 11AM-9:30PM. Great entrees. The main courses not particularly cheap, but the entrees and dumplings are dirt cheap.
- Konjo Cafe Footscray, 87 Irving Street, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30AM-4:30PM, Su 9:30AM-4:30PM. Same location as Konjo African Craft in the "Buy" section above. Features a $15 all-you-can-eat buffet lunch W-Sa (vegan on W and Th).
- Breizoz, 139 Nelson Pl, ☏ . This French crêperie is so authentic that even the waitstaff are all natives. In addition to sweet crepes and tart Brittany cider, they offer savoury galettes with an array of toppings; for something different, try the boudin noir (blood sausage) with apple sauce. The building itself is worth a tour, as it was built as Williamstown's first church and then converted into a bank before being repurposed as a restaurant.
- 5 Bar Thyme, 227 Barkly St Footscray. W-Sa 5-11PM, Su 1-10PM. Outstanding slightly fancy French fusion food with a romantic ambience. You'd never guess you were in Footscray.
- 6 Kariton Sorbetes, 50 Leeds St Footscray. Filipino gelato with ever-changing, outlandish, delicious flavours. Once you try it, you'll wonder why they haven't taken over the world yet. They do take-away treats too. Worth waiting in line for.
- 7 Harley & Rose, 572 Barkly St West Footscray. WeFo's finest wood-fired pizza place. Unpretentious and delicious, good for families. Dining out front, inside and in courtyard.
- 8 Ollie's Deli, Shop 7/158 Barkly St, Footscray, ☏ . M-F 8AM-3PM, Sa Su 9:30AM-3PM. If you're ever in Footscray and feel like a gourmet sandwich that isn't a Banh Mi, this place is for you. They're so big you can easily share them, particularly the chicken schnitty and reuben sangers. Huge sandwiches $17.
- Cafe Sunshine (Salamatea كافه سلامتى), 21 Dickson St Sunshine, ☏ . Daily 9AM-4PM, and F-Su 5:30-10PM. When the airport rail link is built through Sunshine, more tourists will have a reason to experience this suburb. This is a nice cafe with great coffee, food and service. It is particularly known for its Persian food. This cafe is also a social organisation which employs and trains people of refugee backgrounds.
- 9 Goje, 38 Anderson St, Yarraville, ☏ . Su-Th 2-9:30PM, F Sa 2-10PM. Popular plant-based DIY frozen yoghurt place in the middle of the lively Yarraville restaurant and shopping strip. If coming by car, park a few streets away. Weigh-and-pay. Around $5 a serving if you don't go crazy - but it is hard not to!.
- 10 Laksa King, 6-12 Pin Oak Cres, Flemington (near Newmarket Station), ☏ . 11:30AM-2:45PM & 5-20:30PM daily. Supremely busy laksa place in the lively Newmarket shopping strip. Discount if paying by cash. Most laksas $12.
- 1 The Station Hotel, 59 Napier St, ☏ . Daily 11AM to late. Footscray - Opposite the Town Hall. Casual bar, indoor and outdoor seating, coffee. One of the "Top five places to eat steak" as judged by The Age Good Food Guide Dining Companion 2010.
- 2 Bar Josephine, 295 Barkly St Footscray. daily 1PM-1AM. Casual, cosy, tucked-away bar with interesting beers (including a beer lucky dip!) with board games and repurposed bus seats.
- 3 Mr West, 106 Nicholson St Mall Footscray. Bar (upstairs) and bottle shop (downstairs) with a humongous number of beers on tap, plus wine and fancy spirits. Order pizza from the place across the street using QR codes at your table, or BYO food. Seating out front or upstairs. You can choose from the larger bottle shop selection and drink there as well.
- 4 The Victoria Hotel, 43 Victoria St, Footscray (near Middle Footscray Station), ☏ . M-Th 4-11PM, F-Su noon-midnight. Lovingly restored old pub with great food, dining areas inside, in courtyard, or outside.
- 5 Bonehead Brewing, 86 Parsons St Kensington, ☏ . F 4-11PM, Sa 1-11PM, Su 1-10PM. On-site independent brewery with comfortable drinking area with open fireplace. There's usually food trucks out front.
- 6 West Footscray Wines, 578 Barkly St West Footscray, ☏ . Th - Sa 2-10PM, Su 2-7PM, W 2-9PM. As WeFo gentrifies, outstanding little wine bars like this one are now possible. Get the staff to recommend you a bottle. Charcuterie and nibbles also available.
- 7 Hop Nation Brewing, 6/107-109 Whitehall St, Footscray, ☏ . Th 3-7PM, F 2-9PM, Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-6PM. A hidden brewery worth making a trip for. Easily reached by the bike and pedestrian Maribyrnong River Trail
- 1 Plough Hotel, 333 Barkly Street (Corner Barkly St and Geelong Rd), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Above a large pub. $120-165 per night.
- Bed and Breakfast at Stephanie's, 154-160 Fergsuon St (300 metres west of Williamstown Town Hall). Has B&B accommodation and self-contained accommodation. Great value romantic get-a-way with a good cooked breakfast and quiet and comfy rooms with ensuite. Whilst staying there you can use of their bikes, helmets and locks to explore the many waterfront bike paths at no charge.
- 2 Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park, Gate 2, K Road, Werribee, ☏ .
Although the western suburbs are gentrifying fast, they have long had a bad reputation in terms of crime. Now, the western suburbs are generally as safe as anywhere else in Melbourne. Use normal common-sense precautions as in any other large city. Drug users do tend to congregate in Footscray, especially near the station, but they won't bother you.
The inner west suffers from increasing road traffic and congestion. Use Google Maps to find bike lanes if you intend to cycle: new ones are popping up constantly.