Port Melbourne in an inner city suburb located at the head of Port Phillip and bordered in the west and north by the Yarra River. Heading east along the bay is Albert Park, while the suburbs of South Melbourne and Southbank separate Port Melbourne from Melbourne's city centre.
Originally known as Sandridge when first settled around 1840, Port Melbourne became a thriving transport hub during the gold rush days of the 1850s. These days, Port Melbourne retains large industrial and shipping areas north of Williamstown Road and west of Todd Road. However other areas, particularly near the beach, have undergone urban renewal, transforming Port Melbourne into the trendy and upmarket suburb it is today, with a mixture of exclusive high-rise apartment blocks and stylish homes.
The main shopping precinct in Port Melbourne is along Bay Street. This boulevard has a central median strip dotted with palm trees and extends for over a kilometre, lined with restaurants, cafes, grand old pubs and boutiques. The Pier Hotel, located at the end of Bay Street and across the road from the beach, was first established on that site in 1840.
Port Melbourne has attractive beachfront areas with extensive areas of sand that offer safe bay swimming, supervised at times by local life saving clubs. The main Port Melbourne beach, located between Station Pier and Pickles Street, has a a foreshore pathway lined with beautiful palm trees. Lagoon Pier, which extends 200 metres into the bay, is a popular spot for fishing. Between Princes Pier and Webb Dock is Sandridge Beach which is a quieter residential beach with a foreshore reserve that has playgrounds, picnic areas and BBQs.
Station Pier is a major transport hub which is used by the Spirit of Tasmania passenger and vehicle ferry, as well as a number of luxury cruise ships and naval vessels. The waterfront area at the entrance to Station Pier is a popular part of Port Melbourne. There are restaurants and cafes which overlook the water, walking and cycling paths along the coast, paved squares, lawns and a supermarket. The tram line which links Port Melbourne with Melbourne's CBD has its terminus here.
Princes Pier, located just to the west of Station Pier, was opened in 1915 and functioned as a major arrival dock for immigrants. These days, this wide pier preserves the heritage gatehouse and has been turned into an area of public open space with a central lawn. The end part of the pier has its decking removed, exposing the original supporting posts which have become a sculptural icon.
On the Yarra River at Lorimer Street is Pier 35. It is home to D'Albora Marinas and a waterfront restaurant and cafe. A walk along the riverbank offers excellent views of the West Gate Bridge and shipping wharves, with a regular procession of large ships entering and leaving the docks on the other side of the river.
Port Melbourne has significant areas of parkland. Edwards Park is located on Liardet Street and dates back to the early 1900s. It has radial paths lined by large palm trees, extensive lawns, garden beds and a playground. Across the road is Lagoon Reserve which sits on the site of a former lagoon and has native gardens and a sports oval. Garden City Reserve is located in the Beacon Cove residential area and features pathways through lightly treed laws, a large playground, picnic areas and BBQs. A landmark within this reserve is the 26 metre high white lighthouse which was built in 1924 and stands directly in line with a smaller lighthouse located in the bay which marks the centre of the Port Melbourne Channel. Westgate Park is a large bush oasis with lakes and wetlands that is surrounded by industrial areas and bordered by the West Gate Freeway.