09 Jul Six Reasons To Visit Queenscliff
Article by Richard Cornish, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 July 2018
This new winter arts festival is named after the old white lighthouse overlooking Port Phillip Heads. Held in various indoor and outdoor venues, Low Light is a perfect chance to explore this beautiful historic town and its deserted beaches on brisk, chilly days, and then finish with a glass of red by the fire. Come for the life drawing class with cocktails by the open fire in an art gallery with a magnificent view (see below), then skip over to the Town Hall to see American country and blues singer Justin Townes Earle perform. There’s also a special menu on Q Train, a luxurious old train trundling between Queenscliff and Drysdale, which serves local wine and food, and more than 45 events including film, dance, dinners, high tea on the high sea on the Sorrento ferry and toasting marshmallows by the open fire.
July 6-8 & 13-15; lowlightqueenscliff.com.au
For Art’s Sake
In the middle of last century, Queenscliff had a fishing fleet and an army barracks. To entertain the fishermen and troops there was a pool hall in the main street. Today this is one of the best commercial galleries in regional Victoria with two floors of well curated contemporary Australian visual art and ceramics. Salt Contemporary Art exhibits works by artists such as Dean Bowen and his colourful saturated nocturnal landscapes like The Home of Kindness. Look out, too, for ethereal landscapes by local artist David Beaumont. On the second floor you’ll find works from Indigenous artists, many from the Kimberley.
33-35 Hesse St; Fri-Mon 10.30am-4pm; (03) 5258 3988; salt-art.com.au
Donnie Grigau is Chinese-Malay born in Kuala Lumpur who grew up in Australia with an Australian nanny. His popular casual eatery was the former historic shelter shed on Queenscliff Pier until it was relocated, to the rear of the old Queenscliff Hotel, on Hesse St. “The food I serve is the food I grew up with,” says this dynamic chef. “It’s a mix of Australian and Asian dishes.” Expect quality ingredients made into great dishes such as rice and chia with soy beans and asparagus with kim chi and roast duck breast. Saturday night is steaks off the grill and Friday night is dumpling night. Come for the hand-pleated lamb and cumin dumplings served with Donnie’s own chili sauce.
25 Hesse St; Daily 8am-4pm, Fri-Sat 6.30pm-8pm; (03) 5258 3604;
Graham Cull, whose family are fifth generation fishers, takes his boat through the Port Phillip Heads and fishes for squid and scallops in Bass Strait. His brother and nephew fish for flathead, flake, dory and other mixed catch. You can buy the fish fresh from Graham’s wife, Michelle, who sells the catch from her boat MiShell on weekends from 8.30am-3.30 at the Queenscliff Marina. You’ll find the boat moored near the channel at the north-west end of the marina.
Nathan Chinn is one of those great old-school bakers who found a wood-fired Scotch oven in an old bakery and uses it to make excellent 24-hour fermented sourdough. Come here for good, tasty loaves and baguettes. His buttery croissants and Danishes are excellent as are his lemon tarts and large, creamy chicken empanadas.
Alchemy Woodfire Bakehouse; 36 Hesse St; Wed-Fri 9.30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am-4pm;
Fort Queenscliff was the last fort of its kind built in the British empire and was based on designs and architectural concepts thousands of years old including a moat and a keep. Covering 7ha of clifftop overlooking the Port Phillip Heads, the fort was built in 1860 and then developed further over the next few decades to defend the Victorian colony from Russian, American, French and German sea attack. Join a 90-minute tour around this beautiful and historic site and learn that the fort contains the original town of Queenscliff; that Japanese soldiers possibly stalked the local beaches during WWII and that even quite credible people claim to have been touched by a ghost here.
1 Kings St; tours Mon-Fri 11am, Sat-Sun 11am & 1pm; $15; photo ID required; fortqueenscliff.com.au
*Richard Cornish dined as a guest of the Shelter Shed.
Next Week: Armadale
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