Queenscliff is a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria, Australia, south of Swan Bay at the entrance to Port Phillip. It is the administrative centre for the Borough of Queenscliffe. At the 2006 census, Queenscliff had a population of 1,416. Queenscliff is a former 1880s seaside resort now known for its Victorian era heritage and tourist industry and as one of the endpoints of the Searoad ferry to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula.
Permanent settlement began in 1836 when squatters arrived in the area known as Whale Head. The name was changed to Shortland's Bluff in honour of Lieutenant John Shortland, who assisted in the surveying of Port Phillip. Land sales began in 1853, the same year the name was changed to Queenscliff by Lieutenant Charles La Trobe, in honour of Queen Victoria.
The Post Office opened on 1 May 1853 as Shortland's Bluff and was renamed Queenscliff in 1854. Originally a fishing village, Queenscliff soon became an important cargo port, servicing steamships trading in Port Philip. A shipping pilot service was established in 1841, and its two lighthouses, the High and Low Lights, were constructed in 1862-63. Queenscliff also played an important military role. Fort Queenscliff was built between 1879 and 1889, and operated as the command centre for a network of forts around the port.
Adman's Grand Hotel in 1882 Queenscliff became a tourist destination in the late 19th century, with visitors arriving from Melbourne after a two-hour journey on the paddle steamer, Ozone. The opening of a railway line to Geelong in 1879 brought increasing tourists to the area, and numerous luxury hotels (or coffee palaces) were built to accommodate them. The Palace Hotel was built in 1879 (later renamed Esplanade Hotel), the Baillieu Hotel was built in 1881 (later renamed Ozone Hotel), the Vue Grande Hotel was built in 1883, and the Queenscliff Hotel was built in 1887.
Decline The advent of the car saw Queenscliff drop in popularity as a tourist destination, as tourists were no longer dependent on its role as a transport hub. The railway ceased weekly passenger services in 1950, and was closed in 1976. The 1980s saw a return in the town's tourist popularity.
This post is part of the Water World Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Footsteps Waters meme.