Queenscliff is the ‘grande dame’ of the Bellarine Peninsula, an elegant town reminiscent of a British seaside resort with big old buildings, wide boulevards and neat little shops and cafes.
It’s only 90 minutes drive from Melbourne so it can make a great day trip with the family or there are lots of accommodation options to suit all budgets.
Here are my top 10 tips of what to do and places to go in Queenscliff.
Things To Do in Queenscliff
1. Bellarine Railway
Every Sunday and on other special dates volunteers operate Bellarine Railway. It’s a tourist railway that runs between Queenscliff and Drysdale and provides stunning views of Port Phillip Bay. They also run special events such as Day Out with Thomas which are very popular.
Bellarine Railway, 20 Symonds Street, Queenscliff (03) 5258 2069
2. Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre
The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre is a small aquarium and marine education centre just outside Queenscliff, on the road back to Melbourne. It’s part of a national network of Marine Discovery Centres.
The highlight is the touch tank where you can ‘pat’ a sea star or sea urchin and learn all about the marine life around Port Phillip Bay.
The staff are very helpful and full of interesting facts about marine life and coastal environment conservation. They run school holiday programming too.
We are there when they are feeding seahorses – did you know seahorses are the only species on the planet where the male is the one that gets pregnant?
Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, 2A Bellarine Hwy, Queenscliff
3. Princess Park
A great sand-based playground with direct access to Queenscliff Beach. It has a marine theme and even a giant squid on the edges.
It features a large wooden structure with various ladders and slides, a lighthouse, various swings including a bird’s nest swing.
Princess Park, Tobin Drive, Queenscliff
4. Queenscliff Beach
Queencliff Beach is safe, calm and bounded by two long jetties.
The sand is super-soft but on our visit it’s marred by swathes of seaweed. The children aren’t bothered though and spend a few hours building sand cities.
5. Point Lonsdale Lighthouse and rockpools
We didn’t have a chance to visit the Point Lonsdale lighthouse and rockpools but it’s a must-do on our next visit. Lighthouse tours are conducted by volunteers from the local Maritime Museum and you get spectacular views from the top of the lighthouse.
At low tide the seawater in the rock pools at Point Lonsdale teem with sea creatures and marine life.
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse 9-13 Point Lonsdale Rd, Point Lonsdale (03) 5258 3440
Where to eat in Queenscliff
In a former Golden Fleece roadhouse you’ll find the cafe and provedore Piknik. The menu focuses on local, seasonal produce and sells their own range of jams and preserves as well as produce from surrounding suppliers.
From the all-day menu we try the calamari salad with kipfler potato, chorizo, garlic, chilli spinach & mayonnaise ($23). It boasts an abundance of tender flash-fried calamari but could do with less mayo for my taste.
The kids have ham and cheese toasties and then share the crepes with butterscotch sauce, fresh berries & vanilla ice cream ($15).
Piknik, 1195 Queenscliff Road Swan Bay, +61352585155
7. Basils Farm
One of the most popular wineries with family-friendly surrounds is Basils Farm. Set high up on the hilltop with views out to Swan Bay, this winery with adjoining cellar door and cafe is a relaxing place to hang out with a picnic. Full review.
Basils Farm, 43-53 Nye Rd, Swan Bay (03) 5258 4280
8. Jack Rabbit Vineyard
Jack Rabbit Vineyard is an award-winning restaurant and Bellarine Peninsula winery with amazing views across Swan Bay to You Yangs and back to Melbourne.
If you’re visiting with kids you may not necessarily want to go the fine-dining route at the Jack Rabbit Restaurant; though the floor to ceiling windows are spectacular and it does offer a kids menu. The alternative is to head to the House of Jack Rabbit which offers a more casual lunch and dinner menu.
Jack Rabbit Vineyard is in the Entertainment Book with 25% off too!
Jack Rabbit Vineyard, 85 McAdams Ln, Bellarine
9. Scandinavian Ice Cream Company
The Scandinavian Ice Cream Company is a family-owned business that has been operating in Queenscliff main street (Hesse St) since 1984. Don’t be confused by the fish-and-chip-shop style decor on the outside, inside it’s definitely wall-to-wall ice cream!
I recommend you go with one of the award-winning flavours – the ‘gourmet’ flavours are an extra 50c.
Scandinavian Ice Cream Company, 80 Hesse St, Queenscliff
10. Trident Fish Bar
A trip to the seaside would not be complete without some fish and chips! Trident Fish Bar was awarded Victoria’s Best Fish & Chips in the 2017 Seafood Victoria awards.
The decent feed comes wrapped in brown paper and is reasonably priced too. There’s a reason it’s so popular!
Trident Fish Bar, 4 Gellibrand St Queenscliff 03 5258 2334