Bellarine Historical Society Inc

...preserving the history of the Bellarine Peninsula

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An extract from Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the Southern Watering Places, published in 1893.

Queenscliff: high light

Queenscliff, High Light.
[Sketch from Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the South Watering Places : Geelong Historical Records Centre]

"The visitor to Melbourne by sea who approaches Port Phillip Heads in daylight cannot but be struck with the picturesqueness of the entrance. Point Lonsdale is seen on the left, Point Nepean on the right, as you cross the Rip steering cautiously through the narrow half-mile which is free from rocks. Then the two lighthouses of Queenscliff are got into line, and the bold headland on which they stand is soon passed, so close that the buildings are clearly discerned, and strollers on the beach or cliff waving signals of welcome.

Queenscliff is prettily situated on a narrow peninsula of high land, having the quiet waters of Swan Bay on one hand, and the changeful sea from Bass' Straits on the other. It is a favorite seaside resort for all parts of Victoria, especially from the cities of Melbourne, Ballarat, and Bendigo, as well as from the warmer regions of the Riverina.

It is easily reached from the metropolis by steamer, being about 32 miles from Port Melbourne by the West Channel, and the finest excursion boats in the Southern hemisphere ply during the summer months, making the voyage in two hours. Those who prefer the rail have generally the choice of three trains per diem - the railway going by Geelong and Drysdale.

Queenscliff is one of the healthiest places in the colony. The ozone is direct from the Southern Ocean. Being almost surrounded with water, the temperature is very equable, and even on the hottest days of summer a gentle breeze is felt as night falls, while during the day the thermometer always registers several degrees below that of Melbourne.

The excursions to be made from Queenscliff are interesting and various:- To Geelong by road or rail, 19½ miles; to Ocean Grove by Marcus Hill, 8 miles. During summer months Cobb & Co.'s coaches run regularly in connection with Melbourne steamers and Ocean Grove. Point Lonsdale, 4 miles - a very enjoyable trip. Coaches ply several times a day - Fare, 1s. 6d. return. To Portarlington and Drysdale, 12 to 15 miles; to St. Leonards on the Bay, about 12 miles. To Sorrento or Portsea, and the Back Beach; these can be reached by sailing boat, or by the Melbourne steamer daily.

The distance from Port Phillip Heads to Hobson's Bay is 32 miles. Cape Schank is 18 from the Heads, and Cape Otway 60 miles.

Those who are fond of walking can easily reach Point Lonsdale on foot either by road, or when the tide is out, by the beach. Then they can see portions of the wrecks of ships which have gone ashore, almost in every case through carelessness or foolhardiness, or they can explore Buckley's Cave, the hiding place in his early wanderings.

Queenscliff possesses two fine tennis courts and a good bowling green, and a links for players of Golf has recently been added. On the recreation ground there are regular cricket matches played, in which the visitors take their share.

The baths enjoy a well-earned reputation. There are two "paddocks" for the gentleman's baths - a deeper and a shallower one; the former should be patronised only by good swimmers. The ladies' baths and hot sea baths, so strongly recommended for invalids, are also well kept and well appreciated.

A detachment of the Permanent Force is situated at Queenscliff, and the batteries are open to the inspection of the public. About 100 men are resident in barracks.

The larger lighthouse is well worth a visit. The light is a second class one. The view from the lighthouse is very extensive.

Perhaps what makes Queenscliff peculiarly attractive is the large number of steamers and sailing ships constantly passing outwards and inwards. Those passing up the West Channel approach the 'Cliff, while the larger ones, which have to take the deeper, but longer South Channel, steer for the opposite coast, passing near the Quarantine Ground. With a fairly good marine glass passengers may be distinguished even in their vessels.

Queenscliff: low light

Queenscliff, Low Light.
[Sketch from Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the South Watering Places : Geelong Historical Records Centre]

Horses, buggies, waggonettes, and omnibuses can always be hired either from Elijah Wills (Cobb & Co.'s) or from Charley Lloyd; and excellent boating and fishing are to be obtained in Swan Bay, or in the larger and more adventurous sea between the 'Cliff and Portsea.

There are churches in connection with the Church of England, Presbyterian, Wesleyan and Roman Catholic denominations; also, Sunday schools and a good State school; and an excellent Free Public Library and Reading Room has also been opened.

Queenscliff boasts of its own Gas Company. The hotels are of a very high order, the chief ones being The Grand, The Ozone, The Queenscliff, and The Esplanade. The piers afford a pleasant and cool promenade in warm weather, and the steamer pier draws a large assemblage when passengers are embarking or landing.1"

References :

  1. A. J. Campbell, Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the South Watering Places, Henry Thacker, Geelong, 1893, pp.47-48.

[From the Geelong Historical Records Centre and the files of the Bellarine Historical Society]

Record Sources for Queenscliff

  • Photographs : Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre; various private collections.
  • Maps & Plans : Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre.
  • Newspapers : Geelong Advertiser Indexes - Bellarine Historical Society & Geelong Historical Records Centre; Geelong Advertiser on microfilm - Geelong Historical Records Centre; various local newspapers - Bellarine Historical Society.
  • Miscellaneous Documents & Advertisements : Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre; various private collections.
  • Bellarine Shire Council Records : Geelong Historical Records Centre.
  • More recent Council Records : City of Greater Geelong.
  • Cemetery Records : (Queenscliff Cemetery) Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre.
  • Land Records : Registrar of Titles, Melbourne; Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre.


Brownhill, Geo. H. Illustrated Guide to Geelong And District, Facsimile edn., Deakin University Press, Geelong, 1990.

Campbell, A. J. Tourist Guide to Geelong and Southern Watering Places, Henry Thacker, Geelong, 1893.

McLeod, Eunice. Early History of Portarlington and East Bellarine, Indented Head and St. Leonards, Eunice McLeod, Portarlington, 1962.

McLeod, Eunice. Portarlington, Indented Head, St. Leonards : History & Reminiscences, Marine History, Portarlington, n.d. (reprint with changes to above publication).

Wynd, Ian. Balla-wein : A history of the Shire of Bellarine, Shire of Bellarine, Drysdale, 1988.

Wynd, Ian. Geelong The Pivot : A Short History of Geelong and District, Cypress Books, Mont Albert North, 1971.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2009 05:56  

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