Queenscliff: Beyond the beach

Being at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay makes Queenscliff the quintessential seaside getaway. In fact, it’s been hosting visitors from near and far since the Victorian era.

That long and storied history is reflected in the grand architecture, lighthouses and nods to the past at every turn.

Streetscapes can feel like a step back in time, and there are some really terrific and engaging ways to really take a deep dive into past of this town and the region.

The Queenscliffe Maritime Museum celebrates the role the area has played (and in many ways, continues to play) in water based services and activities. Hearing about the work of the sea pilots guiding ships through The Rip, walking through 100+ year old buildings and getting up close with artefacts bring the stories to life.

The Bellarine Railway has been rolling up and down the Queenscliff line since 1879, initially carrying the most fashionable first class passengers. Now, there are fun trips on the heritage train as far as Drysdale, and legendary party The Blues Train also departs from Queenscliff station.

Fort Queenscliff is a physical reminder of the early military history of the region, home to the only black lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere and a great history lesson for kids.

For a more contemporary take on Queenscliff culture, hit the galleries. Handily, there’s a bunch in Hesse Street separated only by great coffee options, delightful food and independent retailers.

Salt Contemporary Art provides a warm welcome with a vintage, vine-clad street front on Hesse Street. Inside, there’s a dynamic schedule of exhibitions and art events in a contemporary space featuring the work of incredible Australian painters, sculptors and ceramicists.

Just down the street, Queenscliff Gallery is housed in a striking 1868 Wesleyan church, the drama of the pitched roof and lancet windows add a sense of historic grandeur to the gallery experience. It showcases the work of original Australian artists in an impressive exhibition program.

Seaview Gallery offers a broad range of traditional and contemporary pieces from paintings and ceramics to glassware and jewellery, all showcased in a historic, multi-room building where natural light highlights the pieces and provides a great atmosphere for browsing.

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