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The Old Morgue

Home > Melbourne > Free | Historic Houses | Museums | Outdoor
by Julie Mundy (subscribe)
Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog:
Published April 19th 2012
Tucked away behind shipwrights, in Ann Street, Williamstown, just near the sea, is a tiny, nondescript old bluestone building, little bigger than a room.
Old Morgue, Williamstown (c) JP Mundy
Old Morgue, Williamstown

Unassuming though the building looks, the Old Morgue nevertheless has a colourful and somewhat grisly history. The building was constructed in 1859 following long and loud complaints by the publicans of Williamstown. Somewhat understandably perhaps, given autopsies were originally conducted in their pubs. Customers were somehow discouraged from drinking by the sight - quite a feat in Williamstown, given it had more than 100 pubs in its heyday.

The morgue was first located on the end of Gem Pier, with the thought that the local marine life would help dispose of the resulting remains! However, like the pub-goers before them, as Williamstown started to become a popular tourist destination, visitors found it all a little unsavoury. As a result, the morgue was relocated in 1873, tucked away on its current site in Ann Street, where it remained in use until 1925.
Gem Pier and the HMAS Castlemaine, today (c) JP Mundy
Gem Pier & the HMAS Castlemaine, today (C) JP Mundy

While the Morgue is not open for visitors, you can see it as part of a Hobson's Bay self-guided heritage walk, or by wandering along past the shops and cafes of Nelson Street, past Gem Pier, and turning left into Ann Street.
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Why? Sometimes you just need to know this stuff!
When: Anytime
Where: Ann St, Williamstown
Cost: Free
Your Comment
What an fascinating piece of local history - thanks!
by Sue Williams (score: 2|847) 3932 days ago
by schmu1 (score: 2|171) 3926 days ago
Love historical walks and this was a particularly interesting look at a fascinating building
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|6113) 3666 days ago
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