Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)

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Going way off the beaten track.

Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)

If your traveling style is to spend more time in a single place and get to know it really well rather than do a cursory city-hop, you will most likely enjoy this list. This combination is hardly going to make it up to TripAdvisor's generic tourist lists unless you scour for them particularly. I'll still recommend it to you anyway. Footscray is a suburb that is more Vietnamese than what is commonly known to be Little Vietnam Richmond, so if you want to immerse yourself in an environment set up by the Vietnamese immigrant community in Melbourne, I recommend Footscray. Williamstown is a short bus ride away from Footscray, which makes sense to add to the day itinerary because this suburb is not big enough for you to spend more than half a day there. You can most likely squeeze Westgate Park into the deal if you are driving, but public transport can get a little tricky to do these three together (more on that). Now, into the specifics:



Recommended route: Footscray > Williamstown > Westgate Park
If you do not intend to do grocery shopping, and want to do a touristy route.
Pho for lunch, grab food for a little picnic at Williamstown, end off with Westgate Park.

Recommended route: Williamstown > Footscray > Westgate Park
Morning brunch elsewhere (possibly in the CBD), take a stroll at scenic Williamstown, take a bus straight to Footscray for a late pho lunch, end off with Westgate Park.

If you're not driving, pair Westgate Park with the day you go to Queen Victoria Market because there is a bus that goes from QVM. If you are on a tight schedule (ie. 5D4N or less), skip Westgate Park.

Footscray Market is closed on Mondays and Sundays.


Note: Save a copy of Here offline Maps when travelling outside of the city because it can get slightly confusing and less tourist-friendly (aka. no location maps/ brochures) in this area.


1. Stroll along Williamstown Beach
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)

Williamstown Beach appears to be rather secluded and private, unbeknownst to throngs of tourists that flood to the city everyday. There is a rather deep bay which makes it look like a private lagoon. When I was there, people were even doing yoga on little floats, swimming, fishing and kayaking around. It would be lovely to do a little picnic over there and just chill with a book if you'd the luxury of time. Otherwise, take a short stroll along the beach which looks out into Port Philip Bay and by extension of which, in the direction of Tasmania.
From Williamstown, take bus 472 (bus route map here). Note the timetable towards Moonee Ponds from Williamstown or from Footscray towards Williamstown here. It comes every 15 minutes so there shouldn't be much to wait.

2. Elbow your way through Footscray Market...
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)

Important notes for the travelers:
- Opening hours for Footscray Market: 7am - 4pm (Tue/Wed/Sat), 7am - 6pm (Thu), 7am - 8pm (Fri)
- Bring spare cash, loose change if you intend to buy groceries

Footscray Market is the place you want to be if you are a very Asian cook. As opposed to the famous Queen Victoria Market, this market is very big and popular among locals because of its greater variety of vegetables, melons, herbs, and meats. Some vegetables, especially if they are normally not available in large quantities at QVM, are much cheaper. Here is a very auntie trick to find out what is good to get around there: um, look at the more experienced aunties and see what's in their basket (and also if they are hesitant or going straight for certain things confidently). Damn, am I evolving already? If you are staying in a hostel or a serviced apartment or Airbnb that allows you to cook on your short holiday, it can be quite a fun experience to grab some groceries and try your hand at whipping up a meal with the fresh ingredients of Australia. Eating out everyday can be quite expensive too.

3. Stock up on sauces at Little Saigon Supermarket

Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)

Another grocery hotspot to hit up is the Little Saigon Supermarket which has this airconditioned supermarket area and a more disorganized mess right outside. Go into that confusion - fruits here are of really good quality and usually at the cheapest prices you can find across the region. Sauces within the supermarket include just about everything you can find at the super famous Asian supermart on Russell Street and more. They are also priced slightly lower (around half a dollar, but small savings go a long way). Of course, this tip is mostly for overseas students, foreign working professionals and generally people staying here for a longer period of time. 

4. Talk to the street hawkers selling herbs.

Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
To aspiring green thumbs and chefs, you may consider growing a herb garden in your apartment with the different varieties available on the street here. Surprisingly, not all of them are Vietnamese, some of the hawkers are actually from Hong Kong (deduced from their accents), as with most other shopkeepers in Footscray. I sure didn't feel like I was in Australia in here...

5. Slurp on Melbourne's best pho: Pho Hung Vuong

Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)

The pho from Hung Vuong remains the best pho ever in my records (strong contender from Sydney's, which I will get to very soon). You have to try it at least once. The pho is silkier than silk and the beef slices are excellently medium-rare, tender and flavourful, I couldn't stop eating the moment I started. I finished a small-bowl (which is as small as a face basin) on my own. Although getting a medium-bowl and sharing with someone is a cheaper and viable option in terms of fullness, I recommend getting a small bowl for yourself for maximum satisfaction. A tray of Vietnamese spring rolls go very well with the pho too. Such a yummilicious time that you musn't miss!
Pho Hung Vuong
128 Hopkins Street
Footscray VIC 3011


6. Pop into one of those Vietnamese DVD shops.
No pictures for this one because somehow I didn't think of documenting it at the time of occurrence. Not like the shopkeepers will appreciate a pesky tourist poking her camera everywhere... it was still a strangely disorienting experience. Vietnamese songs were being blasted into the streets and I certainly feel like I just teleported into a different space-time-dimension.


7. Circle around that pink lake at Westgate Park.

Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
Footscray/Williamstown/Westgate Park  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (7 Must-Dos!)
The day I heard I was physically only 5 kilometres away from a naturally-occurring pink saltwater lake, you bet I set my eyes on visiting it instantly. Westgate Park (in which the pink lake is found in), is located within Port Melbourne. The only way to get there by public transport is by bus route 235 (bus route map here) and walking 15 minutes along a super deserted road lined with industrial/ factory buildings. Still, nothing will stop me from reaching that elusive pink lake. When I first saw it, it was pretty anticlimactic because it was really pink (!!!) and at the same time, surrounded by a desolate unkempt amount of wilderness. Well, a pink lake is still a pink lake. 

 Important notes for the travelers:
- Pink lakes are only pink because of some ''natural interaction of a harmless, single-cell alga and halobacterium'' and is intensified with sunlight and as little rainwater as possible. In tourist terms, plan your visit to be on a sunny day and ensure that it didn't rain the day before as well.
- Allocate about an hour to reach from Queen Victoria Market.
- Skip this if you have limited time in Melbourne.
- Best accessed by driving. If you are alone, it can be quite unnerving to walk to Westgate Park (I did walk there on my own and it turned out to be slightly scary).


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