Published on 6th September 2016
by Linsey Rendell

Seeking a sunny coast and salty breezes? Here's our guide to Queenscliff.

On first look you might think the stunning seaside villages of the Bellarine Peninsula are just sleepy, beautiful places to do a whole lot of nothing. A handful of charming old lighthouses dot the shores of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale, and grand heritage buildings sit next to 1960s bungalows. While the area is imbued with a relaxed sense thanks to its calming coastal setting, it is anything but quiet on a things-to-do front.

For a relatively small patch of the state, this cool-climate pocket is rich with wine-passionate people. Throughout the peninsula there are boutique wineries, avid brewers of cider and beer, dairy farmers, cheesemakers and bakers.

There’s a strong sense of support-thy-neighbour; many cafes and restaurants source from local growers and producers (and sometimes the literal next-door-neighbour’s backyard fruit tree) to shape their menus. The Bellarine is home to a tight-knit community of friendly, passionate folk, many of whom came for a holiday and stayed to start something of their own.

Food aside, there are art galleries, vintage stores and bookshops to explore in Queenscliff. Or if you’re more nature-minded, set aside a couple of hours for a stroll along the shoreline from Queenscliff to Point Lonsdale and on to Barwon Heads, or swim with the seals and dolphins in the bay.

Welcome to Queenscliff

DO

Bookend a life-drawing class with a farm visit and some snorkelling.

Sea All Dolphin Swims

This family-run eco-tourism business lets visitors explore a side of the Bellarine not visible from the shoreline. Blending a sense of adventure with a dash of sea-life education, a tour commences in the shallow protected waters of Pope’s Eye in Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. Here you’ll view vibrant reef fish, starfish and sea sponges while becoming accustomed to your snorkelling gear. Then it’s out to Chinaman’s Hat – a wooden fort that acts as a sun deck for around 40 seals – before swimming with the dolphins that inhabit the bay. Tours leave Queenscliff twice daily in warmer months.

Queenscliff Harbour Queenscliff

Lonsdale Tomato Farm

Established in 1997, Lonsdale Tomato Farm is a farmgate and a providore specialising in locally grown fresh produce and artisan fare. Farmers James and Angela Moran grow 6000 tomato plants in their sizeable hydroponic greenhouse. Truss, round, roma and cherry varietals join lettuce and herbs in the hot house, which are sold freshly picked and in chutney and sauce form. The farm gate is a must-stop for collecting fruit and vegetables from other growers in the region, too, as well as Victorian cheeses, preserves and cured meats for a seaside picnic.

49 Yarram Creek Lane Point Lonsdale

Itinerary

A relaxing day by the seaside

There’s a lot to do around this seaside town but you can just as easily keep the pace decidedly chill. Punctuate comforting meals and wine tastings with strolls along the shoreline and through the town’s galleries.

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9:30am

Piknik

1195 Queenscliff Road
Swan Bay VIC
(03) 5258 5155
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Piknik

Start your day with breakfast at this produce-driven cafe in a converted roadhouse. Collect house-made jams and the kitchen’s renowned gluten-free muesli to take home.

11am

Belsize and Co

67 Hesse Street
Queenscliff VIC
(03) 5258 1977
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Belsize and Co

Head to this cheerful cafe on the main street for a caffeine top-up before taking a walk down to the water’s edge to get quickly acquainted with Queenscliff’s landscape.

1pm

Basils Farm

43-53 Nye Road
Swan Bay VIC
(03) 5258 4280
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Basils Farm

Stop at this idyllic farm for tastings of its biodynamic wines made with minimal handling. Stay for a leisurely lunch and a stroll among the veggie patch and conservation area.

3pm

Queenscliff Gallery and Workshop

81 Hesse Street
Queenscliff VIC
(03) 5258 4927
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Queenscliff Gallery and Workshop

Take some time to gaze at the beautiful artwork at this new gallery. Make sure to chat to Soula and Theo Mantalvanos about the exacting process that goes into making each style of print.

4pm

Salt Loft

33-35 Hesse Street
Queenscliff VIC
0439 353 624
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Salt Loft

Check in to your accommodation and enjoy a restful pause. There’s Pedro Ximenez sherry waiting as an aperitif, or perhaps crack a bottle of local sparkling to enjoy on the balcony.

6pm

Vue Street Bar

46 Hesse Street
Queenscliff VIC
(03) 5258 1544
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Vue Street Bar

Head across the road for an early dinner with the locals, and perhaps sink a few brews from the extensive beer menu.

8pm

Salt Lounge

33 Hesse Street
Queenscliff VIC
(03) 5258 3988
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Salt Lounge

Pop upstairs to this moody cavern of vintage furniture and dapper cocktails for one last nightcap before a very relaxed slumber in your studio out the back.