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Winter, Warm coats, and Wanderings

Winter is the ideal time for quiet beach days, far from the summer hustle and bustle. The beach to yourself, rugged up and warm, its the idyllic head-space getaway.

Queenscliff, on the end of the Bellarine Peninsula, is close enough for a lazy day, far enough for a quiet long weekend. Historic streetscapes and the romance of the fishing port are well met by great food, art, and shopping.

It’s an easy drive to the end of the Bellarine Peninsula, or catch the early Searoad ferry from the other side of the bay.  Either way, make a bee-line for your first coffee.

Key ingredients for a great winter beach-break:
Great coffee, amazing food, outstanding wine, and a bookshop.
Add to that art and retail therapy, and you’ve got yourself a weekend.

Let’s start with your coffee – after all, this can make or break the deal. Saltbush Fine Foods has coffee covered.

It’s a tiny little sit-in or on-street cafe, with the all-important machine up front.

Food here is good too, in-house pastries and generous breakfasts for lazy starts.

Retail therapy in Queenscliff includes the fabulously curated “Frankie Say Relax“. From the coordinated colour palette across the entire store, to the just damn cool funky stuff on the shelves, it’s a shopping must.

Its an eclectic mix of ceramics, homewares, clothing, books, cosmetics, toys, games… you get the picture.

The bookshop is the perfect place to meditate amongst the pages of as-yet undiscovered literary favourites, biographies, cookbooks, and more.

Bookshops are for more than books – they come with bookshop people who know stuff. Not just stuff about books, but about the community too.

Amongst gems like Malcom Gladwell’s “Bomber Mafia”, and Tara June Winch’s “The Yield”, it was a copy of Alice Szaslvasky’s “In Praise of Veg” that led OHO to an event as part of the Queenscliff Literary Festival (every May).

It's not a weekend away
without great food

Eat on the pier at 360Q, watching as fishing vessels bring in the catch and pilot vessels as they leave the safety of the harbour to guide ships laden with your eBay and Amazon purchases into the safety of Port Phillip Bay.

The menu is definitely modern Australian, with multicultural influences. Local wines adorn the list, and the cocktails are excellent.

If a walk on the iconic pier is more your style, you’ll need to know where the ice cream is. Try The Ice Cream Shop in the historic building at 62 Hesse St (Queenscliff’s Main Street). Yes, it’s winter, but it’s always time for ice cream.

Of course, food is nothing without something great to drink. There are exceptional wineries on the Bellarine and Moorabool Valleys, and The Queenscliff Brewhouse represents them admirably. Think Lethbridge, Farr, Bannockburn, and Clyde Park to name only a handful. The upstairs private bar also houses the most impressive collection of whiskeys.

The hotel is also a brewery and distillery. They make Prickly Moses beers and Queenscliff Distillery small batch gins from their copper pot still. The team has a commitment to constantly learn, evolve, and improve, and it shows in the gin.

Keen punters can make a day of it and do a hands-on masterclass, tasting and experimenting with gin flavours. You’ll walk away with a bottle of your very own blend.

For something entirely different, The Q-Train food experience runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a degustation menu rich with local produce and local wines and beers, served in the 4 dining cars and 2 bars of the heritage trains.

Queenscliff has been blessed with exceptional art for decades thanks to Salt Contemporary Art.

Housed in an historic building, the art curated in the gallery has been showing contemporary art since 2004.

The contrast between the light lower gallery and the enveloping drama of the dark walled upper gallery adds to your experience of the work on show.

OHO thanks Beacon Resort for putting us up for our time in Queenscliff. Our stay in the  new 2-bedroom self-contained cottage was a pleasure. This communal fire pit is perfect for crisp winter evenings, a few drinks, and great food shared with a few friends, old or new.

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