Melbourne's Port, 1850s
During the 1850s, an endless procession of customs agents and ship captains climbed the stairs to the Customs House. By this time, the building stood at the centre of a busy maritime precinct.
The gateway to the Victorian goldfields and agricultural districts, the bustling port was a scene of continual activity.
Newly arrived immigrants crowded the wharves. Ships brought supplies for the new colony, and departed with Australian wool and gold.
Imported goods were hauled to the nearby Western Markets, or stored in the many commercial bond stores that ringed the area. Private wharves and crowded warehouses lined the waterfront, and the offices of navigation companies and ship owners were nearby.
Numerous hotels, attracted by the commercial opportunities in the busy precinct, offered temporary accommodation for travellers and immigrants, and entertainment to visiting sailors.