Wednesday 7 September 2011

Queenscliff Time Bubble

I've just returned from Queenscliff, a town about 100km south of Melbourne, at the easternmost end of the Bellarine Peninsula which wraps around the southwestern shoreline of Port Phillip Bay.

In the 19th century Queenscliff was a popular holiday destination for Melburnians, linked by vessels which steamed straight down the bay between the two places. Sadly, today we have to settle for going the long way round via Geelong.

What's fascinating about the town is its almost completely unbroken set of Victorian-era buildings in both its main street and residential streets. As I've intimated elsewhere, it's as if its 19th century inhabitants made a deal with someone supernatural in order to keep the place untouched by the excesses of 20th century architecture.

Here are some of its gems which I liked the look of...

1. Vue Grand. It was once the 19th century Grand Hotel, but after a wing was burned down in the late 1920s, it gained an art deco makeover and the fashionably spelled 'Vue'.

 2. Queenscliff Post Office. I've mentioned before how much I enjoy discovering country town post office buildings which are still used as post offices, and here's another fine example.

3. Former Wesleyan Church. Down the other end of this block is this former place of worship, now an atmospheric second-hand bookshop.

4. Fort Queenscliff. Further along and around the corner is this army installation, built to ward off a Russian invasion (seriously) during the Crimean War. Allegedly it fired the first shot by British Empire forces in both World Wars, when it fired warning shots against a) a German vessel attempting to flee through the nearby Heads out to sea in 1914; and b) an incoming local cargo ship which hadn't responded to a signal in 1939.

5. Bellarine Railway. In the other direction, down toward the harbour, is the terminus of this tourist railway which runs Sunday steam services along a stretch of the former branch line from Geelong. Fine train!

6. 360Q. Finally, to break the Victorian-era stranglehold, here's the brand new 360Q building in the rebuilt Queenscliff Harbour. It's a lighthouse, a restaurant and an observation tower all in one. Nice views.

And you can read more about Queenscliff's attractions, accommodation, dining and shopping in the forthcoming update to my Melbourne Getaways app for the iPad and iPhone.

Disclosure time: On this trip I travelled courtesy of V/Line and the Vue Grand.

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