Sitting in Willy’s Steam Packet Hotel one evening, Colin Woolhouse nearly choked on his beer when his partner Ana Klingsberg suggested the idea of buying a pub together.
Little did they know that night that ‘the Packet’ was actually on the market. “It must be providence,” said Colin … so they bought it!
The pair has grown to love the historic bluestone pub more and more since that fateful night in 2016.
“We knew it would take time to build up and ‘put our mark’ on the place,” Colin says, “but we think we’ve done that now.”
One of the oldest pubs in Victoria, dating back to 1863, the Steam Packet has garnered a unique history, a special place in the memories of many over the years. There’s an old photo on the wall of a donkey (!) being served at the bar, as well as a stories told of a ghost that turns lights on and off randomly, and beer taps opening of their own accord.
“We wanted to preserve its rich history, so in a recent extensive revamp we exposed many of the original bluestone features, making the Packet a stylish blend of old and new – with a distinct nod to the golden days of Australian pub culture,” Ana explains.
Food and drink
Beer and wine offerings are an impressive showcase of the best from Australia and around the world.
“We have 17 taps serving 16 different beers and ciders, and one serving espresso martini cocktails. Many of our taps are on rotation so there’s always something new and interesting to try,” Colin says.
“Our wine list includes riesling from the Clare Valley, shiraz from the Barossa, and chardonnay and pinot noir from the Mornington Peninsula, French Chablis, and sauvignon blanc from the Adelaide Hills and Marlborough – among others.
“For the lovers of bubbles, we serve Aussie and French sparkling, including Champagne. Then we have our Reserve Wine list that holds aged and rare wines from some of Australia’s premium producers. And we offer a great range of regularly changing cocktails. Happy hour is 4-7pm every day.”
The Steam Packet has long had a reputation for great pub meals at a great price.
“Our head chef Mirza introduced menus using the best range of produce in season, as well as classic pub dishes with a modern twist.
“A range of vegetarian and vegan dishes are on offer, and we also cater for dietary intolerances.”
Monday is parma night – with three styles to choose from ($15); Thursday is steak night (from $20) and weekend roasts with all the trimmings ($22) hit the table in winter.
Steam packet is community
“We believe what makes us really special is that we’re immersed in our community; the pub is family-friendly and we mostly see locals. We also sponsor many local sporting clubs and get actively involved,” Ana says.
Steam Packet Hotel, 13 Cole Street, Williamstown. Opens noon-11pm Sunday-Wednesday; noon-late Thursday-Saturday. Inquiries: 9399 9600