Friday, March 23, 2007

Queenscliff-where time has stood still

Queenscliff was established for the pilot boats that steered ships through treacherous Port Phillip Heads, one of the most dangerous seaways in the world. It’s known as ‘The Rip’ and the coast is littered with over 200 shipwrecks. In the 19th century, it was a favoured holiday town for wealthy Melburnians with extravagant hotels and guesthouses. Some of these remain with their elegant lobbies and dining rooms. Unfortunately, they are not all open on a Tuesday night in March. We stayed at one of the old guesthouses on the Esplanade, overlooking the beach. The guests’ lounge was a very elegant room. In the corner was a table with a silver tray and three crystal decanters, full of whiskey, sherry, and port. I found that the Australian sherry was improved with a touch of whiskey, but the port was just fine on its own.

We had dinner in the dining room of the gracious Hotel Vue Grand. We then returned to our guesthouse, since everything else was closed. The next morning, we met a couple visiting from Sydney, and joined them on the ferry crossing to Sorrento. On our way to the ferry, we reluctantly drove by the entrance to the golf course. The course itself was on an island, part of a military reserve. To get to it, you had to go through security, and along two very long causeways, connecting the island to the mainland. We had investigated playing, but decided to wait until next time. And there will be a next time.

While we spent six days traveling from Adelaide to Melbourne, we really only got a small glimpse of this part of Australia. There is so much more to see. As we were leaving Kingston a few days ago, we chatted briefly to a fellow I noticed wearing a Seattle Mariners shirt. It turned out this was his 21st visit to Australia. While we are too old for 19 more visits, we will definitely be back to revisit Queenscliff, and the coast outside Melbourne.

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