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Point Lonsdale: A Beach Town with a Colourful Past
Point Lonsdale benefits from a strategic position for travelers wishing to discover the Great Ocean Road and the Bellarine Peninsula all in one holiday. This being said, the coastal village of Point Lonsdale itself is not to be neglected, with ample activities for history buffs interested in learning about the European colony’s early days and plenty to do for families seeking a relaxing waterfront break. Once you’re done surfing, swimming and exploring caves and local landmarks along the coastline, sit back at one of the waterfront cafes. When it comes to holiday homes, visitors can opt for traditional beach houses, modern loft-style rentals or even villas large enough for extended families.
History and Heritage in Point Lonsdale
Testimonies to Point Lonsdale’s past are parsed throughout town and along the coast. Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, overlooking the perilous “Rip”, where bay and ocean waters collide, was built in 1863 and is still in operation today. The Queenscliff Maritime Museum runs tours of the lighthouse every Sunday, introducing visitors to the region’s history and the lighthouse’s central role in the settlement’s early days. Nestled in the cliffs beneath the lighthouse is Buckley’s Cave, a grotto rumoured to have sheltered escaped convict William Buckley in the early 1800s. A winding walking path departs from the lighthouse, leading visitors to the famous cave. At the entrance to Point Lonsdale, you’ll find a tall Norfolk Pine, which happens to be over 100 years old. The pine has grown to become a symbol of the town, and locals decorate it and light it up on the first Saturday of December, to conclude a community Christmas party run by volunteers, which features activities for the whole family. Even if you aren’t visiting at Christmas, you can still see the tall pine tree at the intersection of Grimes and Point Lonsdale Roads.
Point Lonsdale Beaches and Water Sports
By virtue of its waterfront location, Point Lonsdale offers a number of options for travelers wishing to swim and surf. Families traveling with small children will favour the calmer waters of the bay beach, lined by a foreshore reserve with BBQs and picnic tables. Go for a leisurely stroll along Point Lonsdale’s pier, from which you can see the lighthouse and watch local fishermen at work. For rougher waters, head to Point Lonsdale’s back beach, home to the Point Lonsdale Life Saving Club. The beach stretches on for 900m between rocky platforms and reefs, providing reliably good surfing conditions. However, it is not recommended for inexperienced surfers, and everyone is strongly advised to stay between the flags. Point Lonsdale’s back beach is another popular fishing spot, especially next to the rocky formations and reefs at both ends.
Exploring the Great Ocean Road
While in Point Lonsdale, you can easily jump in the car and drive along one of the world’s most scenic roads. Spend the day along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at lookouts for panoramic views of the Southern Ocean, dramatic cliffs and miles and miles of seemingly deserted beaches lined by native vegetation. Keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins, or look up and try to spot koalas who call the Eucalyptus trees off the road home. Discover the small towns lining the Great Ocean Road, each with its own distinctive features, and make your way to the 12 Apostles, large jagged rock formations sprouting out of the turbulent coastal waters, or Loch Ard Gorge, a natural, sheltered beach protected by sandstone cliffs, where shipwreck survivors were washed ashore in the early days of European settlements.
The Bellarine Taste Trail
The Bellarine Peninsula is a popular destination for foodies. Many towns along the peninsula have their own specialties, from fine, handcrafted wines to fresh produce to seafood and fish caught that very morning. The Bellarine Taste Trail encompasses over 100 restaurants, wineries and farm gates which introduce visitors to local delicacies. You can pick up a map and create a self-guided tour of the Bellarine Taste Trail, focusing on what interests you the most, or sign up for a guided tour (several depart Point Lonsdale) and glean insight from a knowledgeable local guide. One of the stops on the trail is the historic Point Lonsdale Guesthouse’s restaurant, built in 1882 as a home for the Lighthouse keeper and his family. Now, travelers can enjoy gourmet breakfasts, brunches and afternoon teas with a myriad of gluten-free options.
Getting to Point Lonsdale
Point Lonsdale is an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Melbourne and half an hour from Geelong. The town at the edge of Port Phillip Bay can also be accessed by public transport, with a bus leaving from Geelong throughout the day. If you’re flying, the closest airport to Point Lonsdale is Avalon, which is a 45-minute drive away.