|The pier at
Point Lonsdale on the Bellarine
Township at the entrance to Port Phillip
Point Lonsdale is a popular but relatively
peaceful holiday resort located on an outcrop
which forms the western head of Port Phillip
Bay. 3 km east is Point Nepean (see entry on
Portsea). In between is the entrance to Port
Phillip where the calm waters of the bay meet
the turbulent waters of Bass Strait. This
stretch of water is, for good reason, known as
The Rip which, with its turbulent cross-currents
and variable depths, is recognised as one of the
most dangerous stretches of water on the
Australian coastline. Point Lonsdale is 101 km
south of Melbourne and 28 km south-east of
Geelong at the south-eastern tip of the
Bellarine Peninsula. It is a sort of twin town
to Queenscliff which sits at the eastern end of
The area was originally inhabited by the
Wathawurung Aborigines. European visitation of
the bay dates back to 1802 when Lieutenant
Murray spent over three weeks exploring its
features. He was soon followed by Matthew
Flinders who mistook Port Phillip Bay for
Two French ships were also exploring the
southern waters at this time and, largely to
forestall French claims to any part of the
continent, the first European settlement on Port
Phillip Bay was established by the British in
1803, though it was abandoned the following year
(see entry on Sorrento). A convict escapee from
this settlement, named William Buckley, was
adopted by the local Aborigines with whom he
lived for 32 years. He is thought to have lived
in a cave beneath Point Lonsdale lighthouse.
Buckley aside, white settlement of the
peninsula was not resumed until the 1830s after
the establishment of Melbourne.
Point Lonsdale was named in 1837 after
Captain William Lonsdale, the first police
magistrate of Port Phillip. A pilot service for
ships passing through The Rip was established
beneath Shortland Bluff in 1838. This was the
genesis of Queenscliff which emerged as a town
in the early 1850s.
A signal station was established at Point
Lonsdale in 1854. The operator, Captain Preston,
built a house there. His nearest neighbours were
two kilometres away. After a stone lighthouse
was constructed at Queenscliff in the 1860s, the
old wooden structure it replaced was rebuilt at
Point Lonsdale in 1867. It was superseded by the
current structure in 1902.
Little development occurred at Point Lonsdale
until the first land sales proceeded in 1876. In
the early 20th century, a shell-processing works
was established at the southern end of Lake
Victoria, just west of Point Lonsdale. Here
shellgrit was removed and processed for
commercial usage in glass-making and the poultry
industry. Large deposits were found beside the
Geelong Highway in 1935.
The Point Lonsdale Markets are held on the
second Sunday of the month from 9.00 a.m. all
year round at the primary school in Bowen Rd.
Things to see:
The Queenscliff Tourist Information Centre is
located at 55 Hesse St and is open daily, tel:
(03) 5258 4843.
|The beach at
Point Lonsdale on the Bellarine
Front Beach, in Lonsdale Bay, is a fine
sheltered beach for swimming and fishing while
the Back Beach, on the other side of a series of
large sand dunes, is ideal for surfing (it is
patrolled in the holiday season). There are
plenty of opportunities for walking along the
beaches, cliff-tops and through the abundance of
ti-tree. Salmon, barracouta and mullet can be
caught from the rocks at Point Lonsdale while
snapper, whiting and salmon inhabit the waters
off Point Lonsdale jetty.
The foreshore around the headland is very
pleasant, particularly at low tide when there
are plenty of exposed rock pools and caverns.
Rip View Lookout
Rip View Lookout offers fine ocean views over
The Rip - a 3 km stretch of water dividing Point
Lonsdale and Point Nepean - the two headlands at
the mouth of Port Phillip Bay. With its
turbulent cross-currents and variable depths it
is recognised as one of the most dangerous
stretches of water on the Australian coastline.
The lookout is on the water's edge and is
signposted off Point Lonsdale Rd. It affords the
opportunity to observe the ships entering and
leaving Port Phillip Bay.
A walking track leads from the lookout to the
lighthouse and around to Point Lonsdale Lookout.
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
The Point Lonsdale Lighthouse is at the end of
Point Lonsdale Rd. It provides panoramic views
of the area, taking in Point Lonsdale,
Queenscliff, Barwon Heads and Point Nepean.
After a stone lighthouse was constructed at
Queenscliff in the 1860s, the old wooden
structure was dismantled and rebuilt at Point
Lonsdale in 1867. In 1902 it was replaced by the
current structure which stands 120 m above
sea-level, radiating light for 30 km out to sea.
It is manned 24 hours a day and is equipped with
meteorological equipment, rendering it an
important link in local weather forecasting.
Tours of the lighthouse explain the history
of this and other local lighthouses and the
nature of the channel through which ships must
pass to enter Port Phillip Bay. They are
conducted at half-hourly intervals every Sunday
from 9.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and more frequently
in school and public holidays. Prior bookings
are essential. Ring from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
daily on (0419) 513 007. Group sizes are limited
to eight and the cost is $5 for adults, $4 for
concessions and $3 for children.
A cliff walk leads west to Point Lonsdale
Another cliff walk from the base of the
lighthouse leads to Buckley's Cave. In April
1803 three convicts escaped from the
newly-formed British settlement at Point King
which had been established largely to forestall
the creation of a French settlement on the
mainland (see entry on Sorrento).
The convicts made their way around to the
Bellarine Peninsula but starvation loomed and
two of the men vanished while attempting to
return. William Buckley (who had been
transported to Australia for life in 1802 for
being in possession of a roll of purloined
cloth) remained on to the western side of the
bay where he was discovered by the Wathawurung
people who thought he was a reincarnation of a
dead tribal chief. He learned their language and
customs, married, had a daughter and lived in
the Point Lonsdale area until 1835. One of his
dwellings is thought to have been this cave.
In 1835 Buckley allegedly overheard the
Aborigines plotting to attack a party of whites
at Indented Head (see entry on Portarlington).
He gave himself up to the party of John Wedge
who had followed in the wake of John Batman. It
was some time before he regained enough English
to communicate his experiences. He received a
pardon and acted as an intermediary and
interpreter between the whites and Aborigines
but he was divided in his loyalties and felt he
lacked the trust of both sides. Disillusioned he
went to Tasmania, obtained employment, married
and later received a government pension. He died
in Hobart in 1856.
Point Lonsdale Pier
At the end of Point Lonsdale Rd is the pier
which extends out into The Rip, offering fishing
opportunities and fine views of the coastline
The cemetery on Williams Rd (which runs off
Point Lonsdale Rd) contains some interesting
graves of shipwreck victims, lighthouse keepers
and early pilots. It was opened in 1856.
A memorial to Marconi, the first successful
inventor of the wireless telegraph, is located
on the foreshore in Royal Park, just off the
Point Lonsdale Rd, opposite Anderson St and
adjacent the oval. It was from this point that
the first radio transmission from mainland
Australia to Tasmania was made in 1906.
The Terminus, at 31 Point Lonsdale Rd, is one of
the state's oldest guesthouses (1884).
A Maze 'n' Things
This complex features a giant three-dimensional
wooden maze, a puzzle and jigsaw centre, a
croquet court and a putting green. There is a
kiosk, a playground and barbecues. It is open
daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and doubles
as something of a tourist information centre for
the Peninsula, tel: (03) 5250 2669. To get
there, head north-west along the Bellarine
Highway (towards Geelong) for about 8 km and it
is located at the corner of the highway and
Bellarine Adventure Golf
Opposite A Maze 'n' Things is Bellarine
Adventure Golf, a mini-golf course, tel: (03)
3 km further west along the highway is the
intersection with Swanbay Rd. Turn right into
the latter and you will immediately see
Adventure Park. Set in 52 acres of picturesque
parkland, it has a wide range of activities for
families, including a 115-metre raft waterslide,
go-karts, jumping castles, volleyball, a
merry-go-round, paddleboats, the Big Bouncer,
flying foxes, an archery range, Adventure Island
mini-golf, aqua bikes, moon bikes, juming jets
and canoes, the Paddle Pop Express Train and the
Adventure Playground. Facilities include a kiosk
and cafe, undercover seating and wheelchair
access. Gas barbecues and lockers are available
for hire, birthday parties can be organised and
group bookings are also available for corporate
and social clubs.
Admission charges were (at June 1, 2002)
$15.50 for general admission (there is an
additional fee of $4.50 for a five-minute ride
on the go-karts), free for under 4s, $9 for
senior citizens (55 yrs & over) and the disabled
and $22 for a two-day pass. An annual pass is
also available for $40.
Opening hours are from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00
p.m. from Wednesday to Monday and every day in
school and public holidays. Adventure Park is
closed for about two months each winter,
approximately from July to September, tel: (03)
5250 2756 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The web site is www.adventure-park.com.au. A
site map is available from the admission centre.
Historic Tours and Bike Hire
Queenscliff Historical Tours and Bike Hire
conduct regular daily bus tours of Queenscliff
and Point Lonsdale and excursions to Fort
Queenscliff at 2.00 p.m. on weekdays, tel: (03)
Harold Holt Marine Reserve
The Harold Holt Marine Reserve includes Mud
Island, Pope's Eye, the South Channel Fort,
gannet nesting sites and coastal reserves.