Fort Queenscliff
style="font-size: larger;" | Fort Queenscliff

Fort Queenscliff Keep
Location: Australia

Fort Queenscliff, in Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, dates from 1860 when an open battery was constructed on Shortland's Bluff to defend the entrance to Port Phillip. The Fort, which underwent major redevelopment in the late 1870s and 1880s, became the headquarters for an extensive chain of forts around Port Phillip
Port Phillip
Port Phillip Port Phillip Port Phillip (also commonly referred to as Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just The Bay, is a large bay in southern Victoria, Australia; it is the location of Melbourne. Geographically, the bay covers and the shore stretches roughly . Although it is extremely shallow for...

 Heads. Its garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 included volunteer artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

, engineers
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

, infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 and naval militia, and it was manned as a coastal defence installation continuously from 1883 to 1946. The other fortifications and armaments around the Heads were completed by 1891, and together made Port Phillip one of the most heavily defended harbours in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...


The first Allied shots of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 were fired when a gun at Fort Nepean
Fort Nepean
Fort Nepean is a former defensive facility occupying part of Point Nepean, Victoria, Australia. It was part of a network of fortifications, commanded from Fort Queenscliff, protecting the narrow entrance to Port Phillip.- Background :...

 fired across the bow of the German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 freighter Pfalz, as she was attempting to escape to sea. The orders to fire came from Fort Queenscliff. The same gun, with a different barrel, also fired the first Allied shot of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By 1946 coastal artillery
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

 was outmoded, and the Fort became home of the Army Command and Staff College. After the three Service Staff Colleges were combined into the Australian Defence College
Australian Defence College
The Australian Defence College comprises three tri-service educational organisations operated by the Australian Defence Force in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory:* the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies ,...

 in Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

, it became the base for Army's Soldier Career Management Agency in 2001.

Fort Queenscliff is located in the Borough of Queenscliffe
Borough of Queenscliffe
The Borough of Queenscliffe is a municipality in Victoria, Australia. It is situated on the south coast, south-east of Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula south of Swan Bay and next to the Port Phillip Heads, the entrance to Port Phillip Bay from Bass Strait.The Borough has an area of...

, some 106 km from Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, on the western side of the entrance to Port Phillip. It occupies an area of 6.7 hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s on high ground known as Shortland's Bluff and overlooks the shipping lanes leading to Melbourne and Geelong. The Fort is a superb example of the defences that existed around the coastline of Australia from colonial times through to the end of the Second World War. Considerable restoration has been accomplished at Fort Queenscliff in recent years, including the recovery and refurbishment of some of the original guns, the restoration of historic buildings, and the development of a comprehensive indoor display and archival centre. Fort Queenscliff has been classified by the National Trust
National Trust of Australia
The Australian Council of National Trusts is the peak body for community-based, non-government organisations committed to promoting and conserving Australia's indigenous, natural and historic heritage....

 and entered in the Register of the National Estate
Register of the National Estate
The Register of the National Estate is a listing of natural and cultural heritage places in Australia. The listing was initially compiled between 1976 and 2003 by the Australian Heritage Commission. The register is now maintained by the Australian Heritage Council...


A museum was established at Fort Queenscliff in 1982 to show the significance of the Fort in the local, state and national context and to provide a centre for historical research.

History of Queenscliff

In 1852, the Lieutenant Governor of Victoria C.J. La Trobe
Charles La Trobe
Charles Joseph La Trobe was the first lieutenant-governor of the colony of Victoria .-Early life:La Trobe was born in London, the son of Christian Ignatius Latrobe, a family of Huguenot origin...

 commissioned a surveyor to lay out a town at Shortland's Bluff. On 1 May 1853, he appointed a postmaster at the Bluff to transship
Transshipment or Transhipment is the shipment of goods or containers to an intermediate destination, and then from there to yet another destination....

 Geelong and Western District mails. This first settlement was proclaimed Queenscliff
Queenscliff, Victoria
Queenscliff is a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria, Australia, south of Swan Bay at the entrance to Port Phillip. It is the administrative centre for the Borough of Queenscliffe...

 on 23 June 1853, and two months later the first town lots were sold. Prior to these developments, between 1838 and 1843, pilot operations had begun, a grazing lease had been granted, and a lighthouse
Fort Queenscliff Lighthouse
The Queenscliff High Light, also variously known as the Black Lighthouse, Fort Queenscliff Lighthouse or Shortland Bluff Light, stands in the grounds of Fort Queenscliff in Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia. It is one of three black lighthouses in the world, and the only one in the Southern...

 had been established in the area.

In 1853-54, cottages for the pilots and a house for the Health Officer at the Quarantine Station were built in Gellibrand
Joseph Gellibrand
Joseph Tice Gellibrand was the first attorney-general of Van Diemen's Land .-Early life:Joseph Tice Gellibrand was born in England, second son of William Gellibrand and Sophia Louisa, née Hynde...

 Street, and a Customs Officer was appointed. A church and school, the first hotel and a second lighthouse were also built. The telegraph office was built and began operations in January 1855. The pilots' cottages were mainly occupied by the Health Officer and Customs boatcrews because the pilots preferred to live elsewhere, and they commissioned some of the first private dwellings in the town.

In the next few years development continued, and more houses, shops and hotels were built. By the time the Borough was incorporated in 1863, Hesse Street was established as the main street of the town, and Queenscliff boasted five hotels, a library and cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

 and recreation reserves. In addition, there was a lifeboat and a jetty, and small steamers began offering trips around the Bay. The Presbyterian
Presbyterian Church of Australia
The Presbyterian Church of Australia is the largest Presbyterian denomination in Australia. .-Beginnings:...

 church had been opened, a Church of England
Anglican Church of Australia
The Anglican Church of Australia is a member church of the Anglican Communion. It was previously officially known as the Church of England in Australia and Tasmania...

 was being created, and a site had been selected for the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Melbourne
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is a Latin rite metropolitan archdiocese, located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Erected initially in 1847 as the Diocese of Melbourne, a suffragan diocese of Archdiocese of Sydney, the diocese was elevated in 1874 as an archdiocese of the...

 church. A fishing industry had commenced in the town, and the first requests had been made for a railway.

A detachment of the Victorian Volunteer Artillery had been formed in Queenscliff in 1859, commanded by Acting Lieutenant Alexander Robertson. Construction of a gun battery began at Shortland's Bluff the following year, which caused the building of two new lighthouses, the Queenscliff High and Low Lights
Queenscliff Low Light
The Queenscliff Low Light, also known as the Queenscliff White Lighthouse, is a lighthouse in the township of Queenscliff in the Borough of Queenscliffe, Victoria, Australia, at the eastern end of the Bellarine Peninsula...

, in 1861-63 since the original lighthouse stood on the site now needed for the battery).

A military railway line from Geelong opened in 1879 which allowed better public access to the Bellarine Peninsula
Bellarine Peninsula
The Bellarine Peninsula is a peninsula located south-west of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, surrounded by Port Phillip, Corio Bay and Bass Strait. The peninsula, together with the Mornington Peninsula separates Port Phillip from Bass Strait...

 area and improved the supply of building materials to the Queenscliff area. In the 1880s, large buildings were erected in the town - Lathamstowe and the Esplanade, Grand, Queenscliff, Royal and Ozone hotels. A new pier was built in 1885 and this encouraged the building of a larger paddle steamer
Paddle steamer
A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat, powered by a steam engine, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans...

, the Ozone
Ozone (paddle steamer)
The Ozone was a ship built in 1886 near Glasgow, in Scotland. She could exceed 17 kts and is regarded as one of the finest paddle steamers ever built....

.Continuing prosperity during the 1880s and 1890s led to the building of more guest houses and two further paddle steamers, the Hygeia and the Weeroona, which serviced the tourist trade.

Queenscliff became one of the most popular Victorian seaside resorts until greater prosperity and the increasing popularity of the motor car enabled people to look further afield for their holidays. The attraction of the town for the holiday-maker came from its unique blend of military and civilian activities, the picturesque fishing fleet and the ever-changing seascape.

The defence of Port Phillip

The defences at Queenscliff and elsewhere around Port Phillip
Port Phillip
Port Phillip Port Phillip Port Phillip (also commonly referred to as Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just The Bay, is a large bay in southern Victoria, Australia; it is the location of Melbourne. Geographically, the bay covers and the shore stretches roughly . Although it is extremely shallow for...

 were developed in the second half of the 19th century, to protect Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

 and its outlying settlements from invasion by hostile foreign powers. These hostile powers were, at various times, identified as the French
French colonial empires
The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...

, the Russians and, at one stage during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


In particular, the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 (1853–56) stimulated public concern over Victoria's defences, and after protracted discussions, reports and inquiries, Captain (later General Sir) Peter Scratchley
Peter Scratchley
Sir Peter Henry Scratchley K.C.M.G. was special commissioner for Great Britain in New Guinea 1884-1885 and defence adviser for Australia....

 of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 arrived in Victoria in 1859 to advise on the development of the Colony's coastal defences. His recommendations included a proposal to construct four large batteries of guns at the entrance to Port Phillip, and suggested Shortland Bluff as the site for one of these batteries. He also recommended the construction of an inner ring of gun batteries around Hobsons Bay
City of Hobsons Bay
The City of Hobsons Bay is a Local Government Area in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It comprises the south-western suburbs between 6 and 20 km from the Melbourne city centre....

 to provide a more intimate protection for Melbourne.

Following the 1875-76 Royal Commission
Royal Commission
In Commonwealth realms and other monarchies a Royal Commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue. They have been held in various countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia...

 into the Volunteer Forces, the Victorian Government invited the Director of Works and Fortifications in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Lieutenant General Sir William Jervois
William Jervois
Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, GCMG, CB was a British military engineer who saw service, as Second Captain, in South Africa...

, to Victoria to further advise on Victoria's defences. He arrived in 1877 accompanied by the now Colonel Scratchley. Their joint report recommended that the basic defences for the Colony should be concentrated on the Heads, and consist of fortifications at the entrance to the Bay and on the shoals between the main shipping channels. Between 1879 and 1886 their recommendations were substantially actioned and the Bay defences were progressively developed.

Fort Queenscliff was developed as an enclosed battery armed with heavy-calibre cannons on Shortland's Bluff. Swan Island at the northern end of town covered the western shipping channel and was similarly fortified. Two 'island' forts, at Pope's Eye
Pope's Eye
Pope's Eye is the uncompleted foundation for an island fort intended to defend the entrance to Port Phillip in the state of Victoria, Australia. It is less than a kilometre south-west of the former Chinaman's Hat....

 and South Channel, were to be raised on existing shoals in the Bay to cover West, Symonds and South Channels. Although the South Channel Fort
South Channel Fort
South Channel Fort is a 0.7 ha artificial island in southern Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia, 6 km north-east of the town of Sorrento. It was part of a network of fortifications protecting the narrow entrance to Port Phillip....

 was eventually built, work on Popes Eye Shoal was discontinued because improvements in ordnance meant that other forts could effectively close the shipping channels.

Torpedoes and mines
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

 were located at Swan Island and were to be laid across the shipping channels in times of war. Swan Island was permanently manned by Engineers of the Victorian Military Forces. Plans for a fixed gun battery adjacent to the signal station at Point Lonsdale
Point Lonsdale, Victoria
Point Lonsdale is a coastal township on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia, and included in the Borough of Queenscliffe. Point Lonsdale is also one of the headlands which, with Point Nepean, frame The Rip, the entrance to Port Phillip. The headland is dominated by the...

 did not proceed, but defences on the western side of the Bay were supplemented by mobile artillery being stationed there during both world wars. Fort Nepean
Fort Nepean
Fort Nepean is a former defensive facility occupying part of Point Nepean, Victoria, Australia. It was part of a network of fortifications, commanded from Fort Queenscliff, protecting the narrow entrance to Port Phillip.- Background :...

, Fort Cheviot and Fort Pearce
Fort Pearce
Fort Pearce is a former defensive facility occupying part of Point Nepean, Victoria, Australia. It was part of a network of fortifications, commanded from Fort Queenscliff, protecting the narrow entrance to Port Phillip.-Fortifications:...

 on the eastern side of the Bay were also developed and, although on a lesser scale, were similar to those at Fort Queenscliff.

By design Fort Queenscliff became the command centre for the Heads defences, probably because of its strategic location and established telegraph links with Melbourne. In recognition of its importance, a landward defensive system around the Queenscliff guns was commenced in 1882.

By 1886 Port Phillip was the most heavily fortified port in the Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

. Over the next fifty years, the Bay Forts were manned, and both Fort Nepean and Fort Queenscliff were fully operational during both World Wars. In 1946 Fort Queenscliff ceased to be a coastal artillery station.

Development of Fort Queenscliff

The first military works at Queenscliff commenced in 1860, with the construction of a sea wall along the top of Shortland's Bluff. Built from sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 quarried at Point King, this sea wall was positioned directly east of the site of the original upper lighthouse. It was designed to strengthen the cliff face and allow the positioning of heavy-calibre guns in an elevated location, right on the edge of the Bluff.

By 1864, the construction of the first permanent battery, directly above the sea wall, was completed as Captain Scratchley had recommended. The Shortland's Bluff battery was made from local sandstone at a cost of £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

1,425. Designed in a quatrefoil
The word quatrefoil etymologically means "four leaves", and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts.-In heraldry:In heraldic terminology, a quatrefoil is a representation of a flower with four petals, or a leaf with four leaflets . It is sometimes shown "slipped", i.e. with an...

 pattern, it accommodated four 68-pound muzzle-loading cannons which were manned by the Volunteer Artillery, made up of local residents.

The building of this battery required the construction of new lighthouses. In 1861, contracts were let for the lighthouses to replace the timber-framed leading light built in 1854, and the badly decaying sandstone upper light. Both new lighthouses were built in dressed basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 and by February 1863 were operational. The timber light was subsequently re-erected at Point Lonsdale
Point Lonsdale, Victoria
Point Lonsdale is a coastal township on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia, and included in the Borough of Queenscliffe. Point Lonsdale is also one of the headlands which, with Point Nepean, frame The Rip, the entrance to Port Phillip. The headland is dominated by the...

 as the first Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, also known as the Point Lonsdale Signal Station, is close to the township of Point Lonsdale in the Borough of Queenscliffe, Victoria, Australia...

. In 1862-63, lighthouse keepers' quarters were erected at the Bluff for both Queenscliff lighthouses. The upper quarters still survive within the Fort. Between 1864 and 1879, the rate of military construction at Queenscliff declined. In 1870, as the last detachment of British troops left Victoria, the debate on the Colony's defences remained unresolved and the future of the Queenscliff battery was by no means certain.

The period 1879-1889 was the major stage of development at Fort Queenscliff. New works recommended by Scratchley and Jervois were started and formed the basis of the layout of the Fort as it stands today. In 1879, two contracts were let for the construction of an upper and a lower battery. The lower battery was to contain four 80-pounder rifled muzzle-loading (RML) guns, and the upper battery three 9-inch RML guns. Both batteries were completed by early 1882, although not armed. In 1882, work commenced on the walls of the Fort and a keep
A keep is a type of fortified tower built within castles during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars have debated the scope of the word keep, but usually consider it to refer to large towers in castles that were fortified residences, used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the...

 and proceeded erratically until their completion in 1886. A year later a ditch or dry moat was excavated around the Fort walls to provide a further defensive measure. An array of support facilities were also erected, including a drill hall
Drill hall
A drill hall is a place such as a building or a hangar where soldiers practice and perform military drill. In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, the term was also used for the whole headquarters building of a military reserve unit, which usually incorporated such a hall...

 (1882), barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 (1885), assorted sheds and stores, a guard house (1883), and a separate cell block (1887). These buildings were all constructed from timber and corrugated iron
Corrugated galvanised iron
Corrugated galvanised iron is a building material composed of sheets of hot-dip galvanised mild steel, cold-rolled to produce a linear corrugated pattern in them...

, were purely functional and had little architectural embellishment. Many of them still exist today. With the erection of the wall, the civilian presence in the Fort came to a virtual end, and by 1887 both the lighthouse keepers' quarters and the post and telegraph office were turned over to military use. From this point on, regular civilian entry to the Fort has been restricted.

In 1889, two BL 9.2 inch (234 mm) Mk VI
BL 9.2 inch gun Mk I - VII
The BL 9.2 inch guns Mk I - Mk VII were a family of early British heavy breechloading naval and coast defence guns in service from 1881 to the end of World War I...

 breech-loading 'counter bombardment' British Armstrong
Armstrong Gun
The term Armstrong Gun was primarily used to describe the unique design of the rifled breech-loading field and heavy guns designed by Sir William Armstrong and manufactured in England from 1855 by the Elswick Ordnance Company and the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich...

 guns were installed, one on a Hydro-Pneumatic mounting enabling it to function as a 'disappearing' gun
Disappearing gun
A disappearing gun is a type of heavy artillery for which the gun carriage enabled the gun to rotate backwards and down into a pit protected by a wall or a bunker after it was fired...

, and one on a Central Pivot Barbette mounting. Two of the BL 9.2 inch (234 mm) Mk VI
BL 9.2 inch gun Mk I - VII
The BL 9.2 inch guns Mk I - Mk VII were a family of early British heavy breechloading naval and coast defence guns in service from 1881 to the end of World War I...

 guns on Hydro-Pneumatic carriages were also installed at Fort Nepean
Fort Nepean
Fort Nepean is a former defensive facility occupying part of Point Nepean, Victoria, Australia. It was part of a network of fortifications, commanded from Fort Queenscliff, protecting the narrow entrance to Port Phillip.- Background :...

, and three (one each), at Ben Buckler Gun Battery, Signal Hill Battery
Signal Hill Battery
The Signal Hill Battery was constructed in 1892-3 at Watsons Bay and is adjacent to the Signal Hill Lighthouse on Old South Head Road.-History and description:...

, and Shark Point Battery
Shark Point Battery
The Shark Point Battery is a small fort, located on the shores of Sydney Harbour in the eastern Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, New South Wales Australia.-History:...

 in Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...


After 1890, apart from continual improvements to the Fort's guns and their emplacements and the construction of search-light apertures, little development took place within the Fort until World War I from 1914-18. Around 1915, substantial development occurred along the northern boundary of the parade ground which involved the removal of an old shrapnel mound from behind the wall and the erection of a number of timber barracks and mess
A mess is the place where military personnel socialise, eat, and live. In some societies this military usage has extended to other disciplined services eateries such as civilian fire fighting and police forces. The root of mess is the Old French mes, "portion of food" A mess (also called a...


All the old barrack buildings were demolished in 1936 to allow the construction of the present red brick buildings. One of the more unfortunate aspects of development since the 1930s has been the encroachment of structures outside the Fort Walls, especially on the Hesse and King Street sides. In terms of layout and despite some changes in architectural style, the Fort, as it stands today, is almost the same as it was in 1889.

The soldiers

Though over two hundred military units have been associated with Fort Queenscliff since the 1860s, two major groups of permanent soldiers have been based here: the coastal gunners of the artillery and their technical support provided by the sappers of the fortress engineers. As well, there were Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 (part-time) soldiers who were to bring the Bay forts to full strength during wartime and who trained at the Fort throughout the year, particularly at camps over Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...


To a great extent, the soldiers at the Fort were peacetime soldiers - and as has been said, 'soldiers in peace are like chimneys in summer'! Though always part of the town, the soldiers (leathernecks) could always find opponents such as the fishermen (squids) and rivalries, not always healthy, resulted. However, many soldiers married Queenscliff lasses and there are frequent cases of whole families of men joining the Service, sometimes over three generations.

The routine of the Fort governed the lives of its occupants. New recruits were given rigorous training by experienced non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

s, but given few privileges until they had fully joined their regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

. Married recruits were normally not accepted - indeed soldiers had to notify their Commanding Officer and, at times, gain his approval to marry. Prior to World War I, 'the married establishment', that is those who were entitled to married quarters and rations, was severely restricted.

Food was very basic and monotonous. One incident in the early 1900s told how for weeks on end there was not 'pudding' until constant demands resulted in a dessert made from boiled cabbage scraps. Sobriety
Sobriety is the condition of not having any measurable levels, or effects from, alcohol or other drugs that alter ones mood or behaviors. According to WHO "Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms..." sobriety is continued abstinence from alcohol and psychoactive drug use...

 was encouraged, not always successfully, by the establishment of a soft drink bottling factory inside the Fort. The 'Artillery' bottles of this factory are much sought after today.

Outside the barracks activities with the locals included concerts, musical recitals, spelling bee
Spelling bee
A spelling bee is a competition where contestants, usually children, are asked to spell English words. The concept is thought to have originated in the United States....

s, roller skating, lectures and lantern slide shows
Magic lantern
The magic lantern or Laterna Magica is an early type of image projector developed in the 17th century.-Operation:The magic lantern has a concave mirror in front of a light source that gathers light and projects it through a slide with an image scanned onto it. The light rays cross an aperture , and...

, occasional tattoos and moving picture shows.

A humorist during World War I perhaps exaggerated only a little when he wrote The Queenscliff Dinkum" in the Fort Critic of 28 February 1918:

"When you take a boat to Queenscliff as you're standing on the shore,

You will see some dinkum soldiers for a cert;

For when they are not drilling or the amber liquid swilling,

They are down there on the lookout for some skirt."


A conservation study initiated in 1982 by the Department of Defence
Department of Defence (Australia)
The Australian Department of Defence is a Federal Government Department. It forms part of the Australian Defence Organisation along with the Australian Defence Force . The Defence mission is to defend Australia and its national interests...

 analysed the Fort and its cultural significance. After assessing archaeological, architectural, historical and environmental factors, the study concluded: 'The significance of Fort Queenscliff and its location on Shortland Bluff can be viewed at a number of levels: Historically, Shortland Bluff is the raison d'etre for the existence of the town of Queenscliff. As the site of the first lighthouse and the first pilots' hut, it contained the earliest major navigational aid to ships entering Port Phillip. Subsequently, as the location of the telegraph station, it provided Melbourne with vital overseas information long before incoming ships reached their berths, and was the civil centre of the early township.

In terms of military history it is the site of the first substantial attempt to defend the entry to Port Phillip, and subsequently was the centre of the major fortification of the Heads. The Fort is the tangible remains of part of this system of defences, retaining its nineteenth century layout largely intact, and illustrating the rapid evolution of military engineering during this period.

Its significance also relates to its designers, Sir Peter Scratchley and Sir William Jervois, two of the most important figures in the design of the defences for the Australian colonies in the 19th century. Although a number of other examples of their works remain, Queenscliff is one of the largest, both in terms of area covered and ordnance mounted. As the central command post for the defences of the Bay, it was the premier Fort.
Finally, its significance relates to the fact that the site on which it is built has been utilised for military purposes for over one hundred and twenty years, and is presently still occupied by the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

. Although not utilised in the manner in which it was originally designed, this continued occupation has been instrumental in maintaining the Fort as an example of living history as opposed to being a museum piece.

Today the Australian Army is very much aware of its responsibilities preserving the Fort as part of Victoria's heritage. The Fort Queenscliff Museum was formed in 1982 for the purpose of raising and maintaining a display and archival centre, obtaining, refurbishing and reinstalling original guns and equipment, re-establishing and restoring the original fortifications and facilities, and last but no means least, raising funds. This Museum is authorised by the Department of Defence.

To date several guns have been recovered, refurbished and re-established at Fort Queenscliff, including the recovery from South Channel Island of a 12½-tonne 8-inch gun a hydro-pneumatic or 'disappearing
Disappearing gun
A disappearing gun is a type of heavy artillery for which the gun carriage enabled the gun to rotate backwards and down into a pit protected by a wall or a bunker after it was fired...

' mounting. Considerable work has also taken place on the restoration of most of the defensive positions and some of the underground magazines. A significant archival collection has also been established. In recognition of these efforts, in 1983, the Fort was awarded the 'Museum of the Year' award for Victoria. Today the Fort Queenscliff Museum receives support from a wide range of government and private organisations and many interested individuals.

Since 1983, approximately 35,000 people have visited the Fort annually. Many of these are school children visiting on excursions. It is expected that the ongoing restoration program will result in a substantial increase in the number of visitors and an increase in public interest. The ultimate objective of the Fort Queenscliff Museum is a fully restored Fort and the development of a museum which will allow visitors to tour the Fort and inspect a multitude of indoor and outdoor displays.

Today visitors are encouraged to look upon Fort Queenscliff as a part of the national heritage which belongs to all Australians. Accordingly, the Fort Queenscliff Museum has sought to create an environment that evokes public interest and reminds visitors of our early military history.


The Fort Queenscliff Museum has a number of exhibits that are of special value. The collection includes:
  • The documents relating to the 1860 occupation of Shortland Bluff and Captain Jordan
  • The uniform of Lieutenant Colonel James Newland, VC
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

  • An Artillery bottle, from the soft drink factory inside the Fort
  • The collection of items relating to Major Hany Ronald, perhaps the person with the longest association with the Fort
  • The Major General W.A. Coxen
    Walter Adams Coxen
    Major General Walter Adams Coxen CB, CMG, DSO was an Australian Army Major General in World War I. In April 1930 Coxen was promoted to the position of Chief of General Staff. He retired in 1931.-Early life and career:...

    Order of the Bath
    The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

    , CMG
    Order of St Michael and St George
    The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

    , DSO
    Distinguished Service Order
    The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

  • The Roll Book of the Victorian Permanent Artillery from 1882 to 1905
  • The rifle issued to the soldier murdered in Crow's Nest in 1942

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 (a section on basic foot drill), Manual and Platoon Exercises (more foot drill), Company Drill, Inspection on Review, Battalion Drill, Sword Exercise, Light Drill, Instruction in Gunnery and finally Cavalry Exercise. This manual may be the second or third oldest Australian Military Publication.

The Museum is located at 1 King Street, Queenscliff.

External links

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