Queenscliff is a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria, Australia, south of Swan Bay at the entrance to Port Phillip. It is the administrative centre for the Borough of Queenscliffe. At the 2016 census, Queenscliff had a population of 1,315.
European explorers first arrived in 1802, Lieutenant John Murray in January and Captain Matthew Flinders in April. The first European settler in the area was convict escapee William Buckley between 1803 and 1835, who briefly lived in a cave with local Aborigines at Point Lonsdale, above which the lighthouse was later built.
Permanent European settlement began in 1836 when squatters arrived. Shortland's Bluff was named in honour of Lieutenant John Shortland, who assisted in the surveying of Port Phillip. Land sales began in 1853, the same year the name was changed to Queenscliff by Lieutenant Charles La Trobe, in honour of Queen Victoria.
The Post Office opened on 1 May 1853 as Shortland's Bluff and was renamed Queenscliff in 1854.
Originally a fishing village, Queenscliff soon became an important cargo port, servicing steamships trading in Port Philip. A shipping pilot service was established in 1841 to lead boats through the treacherous Rip, and its two lighthouses, the High and Low Lights, were constructed in 1862–63. Queenscliff also played an important military role. Fort Queenscliff was built between 1879 and 1889, and operated as the command centre for a network of forts around the port.
1880s seaside resort boom
The opening of a railway line to Geelong in 1879 brought more tourists to the area, and numerous luxury hotels (or coffee palaces) were built to accommodate them. The Palace Hotel (later renamed Esplanade Hotel, now known as the Queenscliff Brewhouse) was built in 1879, the Baillieu Hotel was built in 1881 (and later renamed Ozone Hotel), the Vue Grande Hotel in 1883, and the Queenscliff Hotel in 1887.
The advent of the car saw Queenscliff drop in popularity as a tourist destination, as tourists were no longer dependent on its role as a transport hub. The railway ceased weekly passenger services in 1950, and was closed in 1976. In 1979 the |Queenscliff Railway reopened as a Heritage Train Service, running between Queenscliff and Drysdale stations with mid-point stops at Laker's Siding and Suma Park.
The 1980s saw a return in the town's tourist popularity.
In 2005, the area previously holding the Fort Barracks was subdivided into residential blocks and renamed Shortlands Beach in honour of the town's prior name. The proposed redevelopment drew fierce criticism from some sectors of the community, who feared loss of an important heritage site. The original fort remains on site.
Heritage listed sites
Queenscliff contains several Victorian Heritage Register listed sites, including:
- 1 Weeroona Parade and 2 Wharf Street, 
- 44 Gellibrand Street, 
- 42 Gellibrand Street, 
- 60-62 Gellibrand Street, 
- 16 Gellibrand Street, 
- Symonds Street, 
- 20 Symonds Street, Queenscliff railway station
- 26 King Street, 
- 42 Mercer Street, 
- 16-26 Hobson Street, 
- 80 Mercer Street, 
- Corner Wharf Street and Gellibrand Street, 
Arts and culture
The Queenscliff Seafood Feast, a culinary festival using fresh seafood donated by local fishermen, is held annually on Good Friday to raise funds for the Royal Children's Hospital.
Queenscliff is also home to the Queenscliff Music Festival, a popular annual music festival, held on the last weekend of November, which attracts both local and international acts and is an important part of the town's tourist industry.
Golfers play at the course of the Queenscliff Golf Club at Swan Island.
The Queenscliffe Herald was founded in 1999 by Greg Wane who edited and managed the newspaper until 2004 when the Murphy family bought the masthead and continue to publish the newspaper. The final elimination on the second season of The Mole took place here in late 2000.
As it is located on a peninsula, the Bellarine Highway is the only road connecting it to Point Lonsdale and Geelong running west.
It was once connected by railway to Geelong; however, the Bellarine Peninsula Railway now runs as a tourist railway only to Drysdale. The Bellarine Rail Trail is a 32 km walking and cycling track that follows the route of the former rail line.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Queenscliff (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Borough of Queenscliffe Frequently asked questions Archived 18 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Phoenix Auctions History, Post Office List, retrieved 5 April 2021
- Queenscliff history and heritage
- Fort Queenscliff tours Archived 1 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Ozone 1886-1925
- Bellarine Peninsula Railway history Archived 2012-04-10 at the Wayback Machine
- News item on the closure of the Ozone hotel
- The Age Travel
- "Fisherman's Shed (H2074)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Lathamstowe (H1052)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Ozone Hotel (H1142)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Pilots Cottages (H1618)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Queenscliff Hotel (H1141)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Queenscliff Pier and Lifeboat Complex (H1515)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Queenscliff Railway Station (H1586)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Rosenfeld (H1134)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Roseville Cottage (H1148)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "St George the Martyr Church and Parish Hall (H1125)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Warringah (H1177)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Wreck Bell (H2070)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- Queenscliff Seafood Feast Archived 8 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Queenscliff Music Festival
- Golf Select, Queenscliff, retrieved 11 May 2009
- Queenscliffe Historical Museum Website
- Queenscliffe Historical Museum
- Queenscliffe Maritime Museum
- Queensclliff - Tourism Victoria
- Fort Queenscliff Museum
- Saint George The Martyr Church Queenscliff
- Queenscliff Visitor Guide
- Point Lonsdale Visitor Guide
Towns on the Bellarine Peninsula
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