The first white man to live in the area was escaped convict William Buckley, who befriended local Aboriginals of the Wathawurung tribe and lived with them for over 30 years in the early 1800s. Queenscliff was settled in the 1850s and by the 1860s its prime location at the entrance to the port made it a strategic defence post. Named for Queen Victoria, Queenscliff today has a population of just a couple of thousand people, but it still packs a punch to see.
With Queenscliff’s strong defence and maritime history, don’t leave town without exploring the 19th century Fort Queenscliff, one of Victoria’s most important historic sites. The Queenscliff Historical Museum and the Maritime Museum are also well worth a visit. For fewer displays and more living history, wander through the town’s streets – Hesse Street in particular – to discover the well-preserved heritage buildings housing shops, eateries and art galleries. The Queenscliff Harbour is also home to a strip of cafes and restaurants overlooking the harbour – complete with a 30-metre-high observation deck projecting panoramic views over the city and the bay.
With so much water around, the list of aquatic-based activities here is never-ending. Take a charter boat out to sea, throw a line off one of the piers or beaches, or dive down to some of the country’s top shipwrecks and reefs. You can even go swimming with dolphins and seals! When your fingers start to shrivel, head to the Queenscliff Lighthouse, built in 1862, and the Black Lighthouse, Australia’s only lighthouse made from bluestone. There’s also a longstanding legend that Queenscliff has hidden treasure, so harness your inner spy and see if you can unveil any clues to its whereabouts. You never know!
All around Queenscliff there are many other towns and villages to visit. Geelong is just 30 minutes up the road, and Torquay – the start of the Great Ocean Road – is just 45 minutes away. There’s also a ferry between Queenscliff and Sorrento, on the other side of the mouth of Port Phillip Bay. Part of the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Sorrento and nearby towns such as Rye make for a wonderful day trip. You can even make the journey to Queenscliff along this route from the Melbourne CBD if time isn’t your top priority. The fastest way to get here though is up the Princes Highway to Geelong, then turn off towards Queenscliff. Tempted? I think we all know it’s time you got booking with one of our Queenscliff hotels!
Hotels in Queenscliff start at AU$91 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.