Destination: Queenscliff, Victoria

By: Angelo San Giorgio


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This year, the Victorian town of Queenscliff was the centre of TrailerBoat’s universe as it played host to Australia’s Greatest Boats – Fishing Boats.

Destination: Queenscliff, Victoria
FISHING QUEENSCLIFF, VICTORIA

Queenscliff is a wonderful destination with loads to keep an active family occupied. Fishing, boating, sightseeing, diving, snorkelling or just topping up on your Vitamin D; it’s all on offer amidst a stunning coastal backdrop.

Located a leisurely 100 or so kilometres south-west of Melbourne, Queenscliff sits on the Western seaboard of Port Phillip Bay, smack bang in the middle of one of the busiest commercial shipping lanes in the world. Accounting for around 39% of all containerised cargo coming into Australia amounting to an estimated 75 billion dollars in trade, our little bay is a big player on the world stage and the regular sight of those monster rigs carrying all our consumables is a spectacle in itself.



GETTING THERE

If driving’s your thing, then jumping on the M1 heading to Geelong then taking the Bellarine Highway turnoff to Queenscliff will get you there. However for a change of pace, hop on the Sea Road ferry at Sorrento and take the 40 minute voyage across to Queenscliff. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the ferry service is a great way of getting you and your rig across the bay although I admit to finding it a little perverse every time I treat my boat to a boat ride. Seriously though, treat your family and they’ll feel like their adventure’s beginning that much earlier. Plus, at around a hundred bucks for five people, including your car and boat (or caravan for you lost souls) it’s got to be the cheapest cruise going . If on the other hand you’re a boating fisho just coming across for the day, then punch the Queenscliff co-ordinates into your own boat’s GPS and head on down.



BERTH UNIT

Queenscliff Harbour Marina served as our base of operations for AGB 2012 and Trailerboat is forever in their debt. Not only did they provide our shady crew unfettered access to their facility, but also provided use of their briefing room, storage shed and most importantly, their restrooms. On top of that, a dozen berths were made available so our boats could overnight in opulence.

In addition to wet berths for vessels up to 20 metres, the marina also has a modern rack and stack facility providing dry storage for vessels up to 10m (LOA). And in keeping with a responsible social ethos, Queenscliff harbour boatyard was specifically conceived to minimise impact upon the environment and fragile shoreline they share with the native marine critters of the region. Initiatives such as a water capture and filtration system ensures any H2O used on site is reclaimed, recycled and repurposed to wash down boats after use.

With extensive chandlery and shipwright facilities on site, Queenscliff Harbour Marina also lays claim to one of the largest Marine Straddle Carriers in Victoria and can accommodate vessels up to 100 feet (30m) in length. The berths adjacent to it serve as home base for the Port Phillip Sea Pilot boats that regularly service commercial vessels entering our bay. And to top it off, a self-service fuel dock ensures any boat that makes its way down for a visit has access to the go juice to get them back home again.



STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

Fuel for your crew is also readily available in any one of the number of eateries within the marina precinct. Q Seafood Provedore Fish and Chippery gets my vote for some of the best fish and chips in Melbourne while those preferring a finer dining experience can partake of the offerings available at 360 Q . This elegant restaurant sits at the base of 360 QTower, a fully functioning lighthouse and the first new one in Victoria in 94 years. Panoramic 360 degree view across Port Phillip Bay await those who either brave the spiral staircase or who cheat and hop onboard the elevator.360 Q Tower is open to the public 10am – 6pm daily and till 7pm during peak time.



FISH’N SHIPS

If feeding the fish rather than feeding on them is more your thing or if you’d just prefer to get out in the big puddle and dangle a line with the experts, then the marina precinct has you covered. Queenscliff is home port to some of Melbourne’s top-notch charter operations, and they can have you reeling in dinner in no time. This is a great way to introduce yourself to the piscatorial delights of the region as well as learning the tips and tricks needed to counter the tidal nature of this section of the bay.



DIVING AMBITION

Queenscliff is also a hub of diving activity and several of the states premier dive sites are located within a short boat ride of the marina. There are sheltered locations like Popes Eye, deeper haunts such as Portsea Hole and the popular wreck of HMAS Canberra, scuttled 4th October 2009. Whether you are an open water rated diver, a snorkler or just blow the occasional bubble in the bathtub, Dive Victoria are keen to help you discover the sights below the surface.

If a more leisurely pace is on the agenda, a wander down Hesse St in the centre of town reveals an eclectic blend of the contemporary and the traditional. If you’re a sweet tooth, be sure to put the Chocolate Room on your list and give your waistline a treat. Or why not join in the fun and top up the pantry at the Queenscliff Harbour Farmer’s Market held on the third Sunday of every month.



HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Home base for the AGB crew was The White Hall Guest House, a ramshackle weatherboard `residence steeped in local history. Rather different to our normal 4 – star digs, this 1927 share-house that looked like it was plucked from the script of an Alfred Hitchcock flick, turned out to be surprisingly homely and accommodating. Perfect for larger groups of up to 75, our crew of less than half that, had no trouble making ourselves at home. To our surprise, the open flow and social nature of the share-house enhanced
the interaction.

While great for a corporate get-together or a family reunion, Whitehall lacked the intimacy or family friendliness afforded by many of the other hotels, motels, caravan parks, guest houses and bed and breakfasts that dot the region.



RIPPIN’ ‘EM IN

If you’re like many of us and you prefer your seafood basket just as nature intended, then Queenscliff’s got you covered. For the boating angler prepared to stay mobile, this area should be on your radar. Two broad inshore options are available, Swan Bay
or Port Phillip Bay itself.

Swan Bay, or at least the left over bits of Swan Bay that haven’t been absorbed into the Marine Park, is still a phenomenal yank flathead fishery. Good populations of southern black bream, silver trevally, mullet and whiting are also available to anglers prepared to put in the hours.

More productive waters are available heading east from the Swan Bay boat ramp out into Port Phillip Bay. This region is one of the premier Southern calamari fishing destinations on the planet, not just due to their abundance, but their average size is considerably larger than most other locales. An intricate network of sand flats abutting deeper drop-offs interspersed with weed beds and shallow reef provide an ideal habitat. Watch the tidal flow as it can rage through the area at times. All the usual methods are productive although deep jigging with larger weighted Egi such as Evergreen’s Egi Bancho 3.5 or Gan Craft Egiya 3.5 Deep. Alternatively rig your standard #3 and #3.5 jigs on a Patternoster rig with a metre long dropper to keep your lure working.

Shallow weed beds are also home to a healthy King George whiting population that are a year round prospect. Flathead, garfish, mullet and rampaging schools of salmon that are often around in plague proportions are also on offer.

In and around the Rip itself a productive yellowtail kingfish fishery exists for those willing to put in the effort to find them. Balmy summer and autumn dawn and dusk sessions can be remarkably productive. Trolling live deep divers like Rapala X-Raps or bridling a live squid or small salmon could see you into one of these thugs. Don’t be afraid to cast heavier jigs at the fringes of feeding salmon schools and hang on. I’ve lost count of the times we’ve been stripped of line under near locked drags while flicking metal slugs into a salmon feeding frenzy.

It cannot be understated that this is a potentially treacherous stretch of water that has claimed lives. Apart from the obvious danger breaking water poses, this is a high traffic zone and while your boat might seem pretty substantial sitting on your front lawn, the big tin cans that ply these waters wouldn’t even know if they turned you into a statistic. Never play poker with a container ship, I’ll lay high odds you’ll come off second best.



PLACES OF INTEREST

 

Queenscliff Maritime Museum

Web: www.maritimequeenscliffe.org.au



Blues train

Established in 1994, the Blues Train runs from August to May and offers a unique dining and entertainment experience.

Web: www.thebluestrain.com.au



Marine Discovery Centre

2A Bellarine Hwy, Queenscliff, Victoria.

Tel: (03) 5258 3344

Web: www.dpi.vic.gov.au



Fort Queenscliff

Originally created to stave off a Russian invasion that never eventuated, it now provides another diversion for the curious tourist.

Web: www.fortqueenscliff.com.au



Dolphin Swims

Sea All Dolphin Swims will have you swimming with the fishes...ok, mammals.

Web: www.dolphinswims.com.au

 

Berthing

Queenscliff Harbour Marina

Contact Sean and the crew

Tel: (03) 5258 5459 or VHF 16 for all your casual and long-term boat storage requirements.

Web: www.queenscliffharbour.com.au



FISHING CHARTERS IN QUEENSCLIFF

Gamerec Charters

Address: Shop 2 No. 6 Wharf Street, Queenscliff Harbour, Vic.

Office Hours: 9am to 6pm (Mon - Sat), 9am to 4pm (Sun)

Closed Christmas and Boxing Day

Open All other Holidays

Tel: (03) 5258 2802

Web: www.gamerec.com





Queenscliff Fishing Charters

Boat Address: Queenscliff Harbour, Larkin Parade, Queenscliff.

Tel: 0458 504 058

Office Hours: Autumn/Winter Office Hours

Monday – Friday 9.00am to 1.00pm and 3.00pm to 7.00pm (Closed 1.00pm to 3.00pm Weekdays)

Saturday and Sunday 10.00am to 5.00pm

Bookings: 24Hours, 7 Days a Week Online

Web: www.queensclifffishingcharters.com.au



Diving in Queenscliff

Dive Victoria – Queenscliff Harbour

Shop 1/6 Harbour Street Queenscliff Harbour Vic

Centre Manager

Fiona Holding

Tel: (03) 5258 4188

Email: info@divevictoria.com.au





WHAERE TO STAY?

Whitehall Guest House

Web: www.whitehallqueenscliff.com.au



Big 4 Caravan Parks

Queenscliff and Bellarine

www.big4.com.au



Athelstane House

4 Hobson Street, Queenscliff 3225, Vic.

Tel: (03) 5258 1024

Web: www.athelstane.com.au



Vue Grand

Telephone: (03) 5258 1544

Web: www.vuegrand.com.au



The Queenscliff Hotel

16 Gellibrand Street, Queenscliff, Vic.

Telephone (03) 5258 1066

Web: www.queenscliffhotel.com.au




GAMEREC CHARTERS

Address: Shop 2 No. 6 Wharf Street, Queenscliff Harbour, Vic.

Office Hours: 9am to 6pm (Mon - Sat), 9am to 4pm (Sun)

Closed Christmas and Boxing Day

Open All other Holidays

Tel: (03) 5258 2802

Web: www.gamerec.com





QUEENSCLIFF FISHING CHARTERS

Boat Address: Queenscliff Harbour, Larkin Parade, Queenscliff.

Tel: 0458 504 058

Office Hours: Autumn/Winter Office Hours

Monday – Friday 9.00am to 1.00pm and 3.00pm to 7.00pm (Closed 1.00pm to 3.00pm Weekdays)

Saturday and Sunday 10.00am to 5.00pm

Bookings: 24Hours, 7 Days a Week Online

Web: www.queensclifffishingcharters.com.au



Diving in Queenscliff

Dive Victoria – Queenscliff Harbour

Shop 1/6 Harbour Street Queenscliff Harbour Vic

Centre Manager

Fiona Holding

Tel: (03) 5258 4188

Email: info@divevictoria.com.au





WHAERE TO STAY?

Whitehall Guest House

Web: www.whitehallqueenscliff.com.au



Big 4 Caravan Parks

Queenscliff and Bellarine

www.big4.com.au



Athelstane House

4 Hobson Street, Queenscliff 3225, Vic.

Tel: (03) 5258 1024

Web: www.athelstane.com.au



Vue Grand

Telephone: (03) 5258 1544

Web: www.vuegrand.com.au



The Queenscliff Hotel

16 Gellibrand Street, Queenscliff, Vic.

Telephone (03) 5258 1066

Web: www.queenscliffhotel.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #287, October 2012

 


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