Under an hour from Ashbury… Queenscliff!
Under an hour from Ashbury… Queenscliff!
They say location is everything. And Ashbury residents would probably agree!
Located just ten minutes away from the City of Geelong and with the Princess Highway, and the Marshall Railway Station nearby, the estate offers easy access to Geelong, Melbourne and regional Victoria.
There are plenty of fantastic places you can visit within in an hour of Ashbury. Each month, we’re going to shine a light on one of them, beginning with… Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula.
Situated at the mouth of Port Phillip Bay, with its rich maritime history, its proximity to some of the State’s best boutique wineries and its myriad family-friendly attractions, this seaside village is definitely worth a visit.
Here are our top picks of things to see and do!
Immerse yourself in Queenscliff’s History.
Queenscliff is steeped in maritime history and the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum is the best place to uncover it. The Museum houses an extensive array of exhibits and displays celebrating the many characters, including sea pilots, sailors, fishermen, boat builders, light keepers and ferry captains, who have contributed to the town’s seafaring heritage.
A highlight is the Queenscliffe, a lifeboat manned by light keepers and volunteers, which operated for over fifty years, rescuing people and ships caught up in Queenscliff’s notorious rip. The museum is also home to model ships, lighthouse displays, and an eclectic collection of artefacts salvaged from the area’s numerous shipwrecks. Check out the old diving equipment and try the on the diving bell helmet for yourself!
Elsewhere, discover some of Australia’s military history at Fort Queenscliff. Built in 1860 to defend the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, it became the headquarters for a chain of forts around the heads and was manned as a coastal defence installation from 1883 until 1946.
With over 150 years of Australia’s heritage on display, it’s now one of Victoria’s most important historic sites, and one of the largest and best-preserved forts in Australia. Take a tour and enjoy the rare opportunity to see the restored 19th century Coastal Artillery and explore the various buildings that made up the Fort’s original defences. There’s even an opportunity to try on uniforms from different moments in time.
Visit the Queenscliff Lighthouses.
Originally a fishing village, Queenscliff became an important cargo port for steamships trading at nearby Port Phillip and two lighthouses were built to help guide ships attempting the dangerous journey through the heads of Port Phillip Bay.
Both were built from the same black stone. However, only one was painted white, so they could be distinguished from each other during the day. Known as the Queenscliff Low Light, the White Lighthouse sits on the lower bluff alongside two other towers that are also used for navigation. Queenscliff’s Black Lighthouse, known as the Queenscliff High Light, is one of only three black lighthouses in the world – and the only one in the southern hemisphere.
Take the Train.
For a fun-filled experience the whole family can enjoy, take a train ride on The Bellarine Railway, running between Queenscliff and Drysdale on board a unique collection of steam and diesel trains originating from around Australia. Scenic train trips along Swan Bay depart from Queenscliff Station on most Sundays, public holidays and extra days during the school holidays.
Family specials and events include a day out with Thomas the Tank Engine and the Easter Bunny, magic show and workshops and teddy bear trains, as well as Halloween and Christmas specials.
The Bellarine Railway is also home to The Blues Train, a rollicking journey, featuring a revolving cast of the best blues artists in the country. One of Australia's most spectacular entertainment experiences, it’s literally a mini festival in one night where music enthusiasts can sit back, relax and listen to music on one of the seated carriages, while more energetic passengers can boogie the blues away in one of the dance carriages!
Out on the Bay.
Queenscliff also offers up endless opportunities for water activities on Port Phillip Bay, with a range of charter boats departing Queenscliff. Dive down to some of Australia's best reefs and shipwrecks to check out the abundant marine life beneath the waves; try a spot of fishing from piers, beaches or charter boats; or ride the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento, a 40-minute journey, which takes passengers and cars to the other side of Port Phillip Bay.
One of the best, most popular and fun things to do in Queenscliff is to go swimming with dolphins and seals. The fantastic Seal and Dolphin Swim Tour takes you to Pope’s Eye in the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park, where shallow waters brim with brightly coloured fish and marine life. Here you can snorkel to your heart’s content until it’s time to head out to a local site where Australian fur seals spend much of their time. These playful creatures are only too happy to share the water with you. After this, you’ll set off in search of dolphins who can usually be found not too far away. The boat also has a rooftop viewing platform, mermaid lines around the vessel, and an extended hammock where you can sit out over the water.
Climb The Tower At Queenscliff Marina.
The town’s maritime heart, the Marina features a great selection of shops, cafes and restaurants. Stroll along the boardwalk and check out the historic couta boats while keeping an eye out for the giant stingrays that call the harbour home. Climb the Queenscliff Observation Tower, which soars 40 metres into the air, for spectacular 360 degrees views, and afterwards treat yourself to a meal at the award-winning 360Q restaurant, with a menu offering a wide variety of creative, fresh and delicious dishes.
Indulge in a little retail – and cultural, therapy with a walk along Hesse Street, and explore its many heritage buildings, art galleries, shops and great places to dine. Unwind with a great brew at a quiet cafe or step into the majestic Vue Grand Hotel for contemporary regional fare. Stock up on fresh produce at specialty shops and community markets, peruse the local boutiques, or grab a piping-hot parcel of fish and chips for a seaside picnic under the shade of giant foreshore pines.
On the last Sunday of the month from September to May, locals head for the Queenscliff Community Market in Lower Princess Park. Here you can browse nearly 200 stalls featuring quality Australian-made artisan products and produce, as well as a selection of food stalls, plant growers, designer jewellery, delicious sauces, jams, olive oil, and other condiments, making it the ideal place for bargain hunters looking to pick up unique souvenirs, and find tasty treats.
Where to eat.
Of course all that exploring is sure to make you hungry, and you could easily spend days eating your way around Queenscliff. We’ve already mentioned 360Q, but other options include tucking into delicious pub food at the Queenscliff Brewhouse, treating yourself to an ice-cream (or three) at Lix Ice Creamery and Juice Bar, sampling casual contemporary Australian cuisine at Athelstane House or grabbing a quick snack at the Queenscliff General Store.