Fort Queenscliff is located some 106km from Melbourne, on the western side of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay and occupies an area of 6.7 hectares on high ground known as Shortland's Bluff. It overlooks the shipping lanes leading to Melbourne and Geelong.
A Hydro-Pneumatic Gun Barrel sitting outside of the Fort.
The Fort is one of Victoria's most important heritage sites as well as being the largest and best-preserved forts in Australia. In recent years considerable restoration had been accomplished, including the recovery and refurbishment of some of the original guns, the restoration of historic buildings, and the development of comprehensive indoor and archival centre. It is also home to countless indoor and outdoor displays and exhibits.
The Fort Queenscliff Museum also houses a number of exhibits that are of special value including the collection of documents relating to the 1860 occupation of Shortland Bluff and Captain Jordan, the uniform of Lieutenant Colonel J.E. Newland, VC, and an Artillery bottle from the soft drink factory inside the Fort.
Outside of the Museum you will find real-life machinery & weapons used or stored during WWI & WWII at the Fort.
It also houses a collection of items relating to Major Hany Ronald, perhaps the person with the longest association with the Fort, Major General W.A. Coxen CB, CMG, DSO collection, the Roll Book of the Victorian Permanent Artillery from 1882 to 1905 and the rifle used on the soldier murdered in Crow's Nest in 1942.
The Directing Station Fire Control was built in 1914..
The museum also has a rare manual entitled "The Artillerist's Manual". The contents include Cautionary Remarks (on the importance of drill and bearing), Recruit, Manual and Platoon Exercises, Company Drill, Inspection on Review, Battalion Drill, Sword Exercise, Light Drill, Instruction in Gunnery and Cavalry Exercise. The Manual may possibly be the second or third oldest Australian Military Publication.
Remains of weapons are scattered all over the Fort and most of them can be seen on the Guided Tour.
Fort Queenscliff became the headquarters for an extensive chain of forts around Port Phillip Heads. Its garrison included volunteer artillery, engineers, infantry and naval militia, and it was manned as a coastal defence installation continuously from 1883 to 1946.
The Fort underwent major redevelopment in the late 1870s to 1880s and in 1891 all the fortifications and armaments around the Heads were completed, and together this made Port Phillip one of the most heavily defended harbours in the British Empire!
Fort Queenscliff's famous Black Lighthouse is one of only a handful in the world that are unpainted black stone. It is also the only black lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere!
It is claimed that the first British Empire artillery shots of World War I were fired when a gun at Fort Nepean fired across the bow of the German frigate Pfalz, as she was attempting to escape to sea. The orders to fire came from Fort Queenscliff. It is also alleged that the same gun (with a different barrel) was also used to fire the first Australian artillery shot of World War II.
The 8 inch Armstrong 'Disappearing' Gun 1888, mounted on Hydro-Pneumatic Carriage. It was recovered from South Channel Fort- installed 1981-82
By 1946, the coastal artillery became outmoded, and the Fort became home to Army's Staff College. In 2001 it became the base for Army's Soldier Career Management Agency and today Queenscliff Fort is a must visit for everyone - not just for military and navy enthusiasts or history buffs.
Guided Tours are held Monday to Friday 11am and June-September weekends 11am & 1.45pm.
School holiday tours are available 11am and 1pm. Do see website for any tour changes.
Do note that photo ID is required.
The Guided Tours offer a rare opportunity to explore and learn about the 19th century Coastal Artillery Fort (operating as an Australian Army Base) with over 150 years of Australia's heritage on display.
On the tour, you will also see many historic Fort features as well as hearing about an artillery soldier's life between 1860 and 1946 as well as activities of the Department of Defense to the current date.
The tours are approximately 1 ½ hours and also include a visit to the Fort's Museum.
Children under 15yrs: $7.50pp
Family (2 adults children under 15yrs): $38.00