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: walksmelbourne.com
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.
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 & 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.