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Hidden Waterside Venues Near Melbourne

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by Kerry Lander (subscribe)
Kerry has been writing radio copy for donkey's years, & also dabbles in short stories & travel writing. She works, plays and explores largely in the CDB and inner suburbs, gets everywhere by public transport and is the self-professed Zone One Queen.
Published March 28th 2013
You'd probably never stumble across these by accident
Not all hidden bars and venues are located in Melbourne's city laneways. Here are two quite different places that share a common locational theme: they are not places you will stumble across, and both are located in an industrial docks environment.

Let's go west first.

The Pirate Tavern in Williamstown requires a little walking, a little searching, a little leap of faith. From the beachside park of Commonwealth Reserve, head along Nelson Place and up Ann Street. Look for the standing sign at the end, enter the gated area giving access to an area of warehouses, wharves and loading docks. Keep walking and look around you. Persistence will pay off.

Pirate Tavern sign
You're on the right track when you see this sign.

Pirate exterior
Ahoy – just opened and the first punter of the day has arrived.

The Pirate Tavern is a cavernous maritime pub in a big old shed. There's no gloss or theme-pretensions here. Like an old-school museum, every nautical item on the walls rests in retirement, rough around the edges from use.
Enjoy a tankard on this cow-hide sofa.

At one end of the main hall, (and a hall it is), a cluster of squashy armchairs share the space with an old stove. The rest of the room is occupied by canteen-style tables and chairs, suggesting an old-style tavern accommodating large hearty groups. I suspect genuine pirates would approve.
Interior with sofas
First in-first served for these comfy seats. A great winter spot.

After a relaxing afternoon drink, you can take a stroll down the wharf, being careful to stay away from the edge if you've had a few. Or stay on for the live bands that seem to be a regular feature on Fridays. The website here also lists upcoming music, and indicates Ye Olde Pirate Tavern; long may it run, and resist the urge to renovate.

Now let's sail back into the city for something completely different.

Located in the industrial side of Port Melbourne, Pier 35 Bar & Grill is a waterside restaurant with a difference. Best found by activating a GPS device, it is situated in the real docklands, near the junction where the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers meet.

Pier 35 Bar & Grill
Pier 35 daytime
Where two rivers meet.

As such, diners are treated to some fascinating sights of our import/export industry, with the regular passing of gigantic container ships, often with a few land-starved sailors on deck ogling the appealing sight of the restaurant.

Pier 35's location is almost exactly where tugboats engage with these ships, shortly after they have passed under the Westgate Bridge.
Deck view
Our busy port in action is usually unobserved by the general public.

During a recent dinner, we watched two container ships and several tugs pass by, saw a bulldozer being hoisted onto a deck by an on-board crane, watched the passing of various harbour cruises and ferries, and noted several pleasure craft returning after dark. We also saw the most magical sunset under the Westgate.

Tug entrees
A tug greets a ship, while a sensational entrée plate is enjoyed.
All very pleasantly complimented by Pier 35 Bar & Grill's superb tapas plates, seafood and meat dishes. One particular dessert - the Chocolate Fondant - was a delightful surprise, as a wall of chocolate cake, burdened by a scoop of mint ice-cream, gave way to a tsunami of flowing chocolate fudge.

Having dined there on Valentines Day evening, and noting there were still some tables free on this most dining-out night of the year, makes me realise Pier 35 Bar & Grill is still largely unknown.

Westgate sunset on Valentines evening.

Treat yourself to some interesting views and beautiful food in the establishment that can boast Mike Tyson as a customer (the place looked so inviting as he passed by in his private yacht). Other waterside restaurants can eat their hearts out.

See the menu here and note the excellent lunch special for $14 – even on weekends.
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Why? Impress visitors and friends by taking them to these delightful hidden gems.
When: The Pirate Tavern: Fri from 7pm, Sat 3 - 6pm, Sun (in summer) 1 - 6pm. Pier35 open 7 days from 10am for lunch and dinner.
Phone: For Pier 35, phone 9646 0606.
Where: Williamstown and Port Melbourne
Your Comment
The Pirate Tavern looks very quirky
by Lucy Graham (score: 2|277) 2621 days ago
great article with fabulous pics!
by Joy (score: 3|1910) 2621 days ago
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