"Queenscliff" Queenscliff by leffe3

Queenscliff Travel Guide: 38 reviews and 82 photos

Some 100 kilometres south west of Melbourne, Queenscliff is a small town located at the very south western tip of Port Phillip Bay, effectively 'protecting' the entry into the bay. The south eastern tip (Nepean Point) is clearly visible (see main pic), creating a narrow entry that is regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world for large ships. It's not for nothing that this part of the coastline is known as the Shipwreck Coast.

(Imagine a clock face representing Port Phillip Bay: Melbourne would be at five minutes, Queenscliff at 31 minutes and Nepean Point 29 minutes with the opening into the bay restricted to the 2 minutes between the two). You would also need to drive all the way round the clock in an anticlockwise direction to reach Queenscliff)

Thus located, Queenscliff is away from the main traffic heading for the Great Ocean Road (which turns away from that clockface at Geelong at the 40 minute point) and so the Bellarine Peninsula has thus become a more localised destination - tourism predominantly from Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Queenscliff itself is a sedate, elegant town, proud of its history. It developed as the home for the pilots guiding the ships through the treacherous waters of The Rip (entrance to the bay), a service town to the region and a popular seaside destination from the Victorian period onwards - many grand and stately buildings remain from this period. But it was also of military importance, guarding the bay entrance. Thus a huge military presence developed from 1860 - a large fort and extensive coastal defence buildings overlooking The Rip testify to this.

Nowadays, the fort is a museum but there remains a strong military presence - part of Swan Island, linked to Queenscliff by a short bridge, remains off-limits to non-military personal.

The sea and water is the key to the town. Built on the end of an isthmus, water is to be found on three sides with only a narrow strip of land connecting it to the rest of Victoria. A warren of channels, wetlands, small islands and shallow waterways are to be found in the shelter of the bay and a small, narrow but safe beach is to be found here. A marina and car ferry station (which plies between Queenscliff and Sorrento on the eastern shore of the bay) is to be found in the protected waters. With its raised but low-lying cliff landscape, the nearest open sea beach is a 5 kilometer drive to Point Lonsdale.

A genteel, slightly 'old-fashioned' air pervades the town with its wide streets, extensive open parklands, imposing Victorian buildings and which has built a reputation for a 'get away from it all' destination. Galleries, well-regarded restaurants, fishing and boating are the mainstays.

  • Last visit to Queenscliff: May 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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