It’s 1886 and Queenscliff is a travel destination for intrepid adventurers, hours from Melbourne on rough roads by horse.
On such an adventure might a little romance blossom? But where to go, away from the watchful eyes of your more staid companions?
On Lonsdale Bight, between the dunes of the back beach and the still waters of Swan Bay, the Moonah bushland provides perfect cover. How convenient then, that there is a long sandy path winding gently through this bush, soon named and still known as Lover’s Walk?
But never a day goes by without the papers reporting another war scare – soon, if you believe what you read these days, the warships of the Russians will be steaming their way into our very bay to rob us of our gold and families.
What can we do? Don’t worry, the brave men of Australia have taken steps already to protect you – a series of gun emplacements strategically placed to cover the bay, and you take comfort in that thought every time you stroll past the forts that have appeared on Lovers Walk recently.
There is a beautiful track between Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale that lets you walk the 6 kilometres, mostly on sandy paths, away from the noise of the road.
The middle section of this track, as it passes over the narrow neck into Queenscliff known as Lonsdale Bight, winds it way through rare coastal Moonah woodlands, where shade and quiet prevail. Nestled between two dunes, shielded by thick trees, and out of sight of both the road and the beach, it’s not hard to guess that this is the part of the track that is known as Lovers Walk.
During the 1930’s youths would gather in this area, and around Swan Bay, to stage mock fights, hunt rabbits, go fishing, light cooking fires, collect spent bullets, and cross the causeway to Tip Island to make sinkers. Then, there were also many small trails through the woodlands that were unknown to the tourists.
After the gold rush of the 1850’s, Victoria had become a prosperous state, and over the 90 odd years between 1850 and the end of the second world war there were scores of ‘war scares’ that left Australia, and especially its coastal towns, feeling exposed and vulnerable to invasion.
Between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff there were many fortifications, gun emplacements, batteries, search lights and forts built at various times and manned to defend against these enemies.
Wherever gun emplacements were built, range finding observation posts (Direction Range Finders, or ‘DRF’s) were built nearby to determine the distance and direction of enemy vessels.
It is one of these DRFs that is the subject of this cache.
This cache is located at the Lonsdale Bight DRF, 400 metres west of the Crows Nest fort.
You are looking for a 1000ml clip-lock plastic container with a log book, pencil, and room for some medium swaps. Take a torch so you can explore inside the DRF, but you don’t need the torch and don’t need to go inside to find the cache.
This DRF is remarkably well preserved, and built in 1886 to the earliest design for the area. It is a two storey concrete bunker with a bomb-proof steel plate roof above a narrow observation port - you can still see the mounts that the sighting device (an ‘alidade’) sat on. There are internal access stairs to an underground work and barracks area.
On the other side of the path are the remaining walls of a fortified storage room and magazine.
There are numerous entry point onto the track, both from the beach side, and from the roads that roughly follow the same path on the other side.
The track is an easy walk, mostly unsealed sand with gentle gradients.
NOTE that there is NO public parking at Fraser Street or Smith Street, and your best bet would be to join the track at one of the larger entrances closer to Queenscliff.
This cache has been placed to encourage you to enjoy Lovers Walk, and if you have the time an ideal outing would be to get on to the beach at Point Lonsdale or Queenscliff and sneak up to Lovers Walk on one of the beach tracks.
I have replaced the cache, in a new location - it looks like the old location had become known to a few young local rascally muggles. Brand new cache, brand new log book, brand new treasures inside!