Striking ferry terminal berths at historic Queenscliff foreshore

The new Queenscliff ferry terminal makes a mark with its eye-catching modern design attracting attention from any angle.

Architecture and landscape design create connected spaces to celebrate the history and culture of the surrounding land.

Franco Florentini

Melbourne architect Franco Fiorentini from F2 Architecture speaks on his team’s latest design with Tract - the Queenscliff ferry terminal – a highly anticipated project that reflects its surrounding environment. It’s a project that’s already made a name for itself, landing a Commendation in the Public Architecture category at the prestigious Victorian Architecture Awards 2023, along with nominations for the Urban Architecture and Regional Prize categories.

As the ferry crosses Port Phillip Bay, from Sorrento to Queenscliff, the striking terminal emerges on the horizon, nestled into the coastline and boasting design inspiration from the surrounding environment and maritime history.

‘The terminal celebrates the passageway between Queenscliff and Sorrento which has a long and deep history going back thousands of years - a passage that at one time could be traversed on foot,’ Franco said.

The new terminal has made Queenscliff a destination and even more of a must-see on the regional map, with the seaside town boasting various walking trails, and new restaurants and spaces bringing people together.

Franco shares how the design is inspired more by natural forms rather than mass production. He adds that the elongated wings extending from the roof line offer shelter from the elements and provides a welcoming gesture from the land and the water. The arched roof form is inspired by the unique coastal landform and also references the vaulted roof of the nearby historic lifeboat building and jetty circa 1923, a significant artefact of Queenscliff’s maritime history.

‘It’s a highly historic location and context is everything when it comes to design, especially in regional Victoria,’ Franco said.

‘Where the landscape and township have a unique character, you need to respect and celebrate it.

‘There are smaller communities in regional Victoria and they have very strong relationships with place.’

The elegant design standing strong on Queenscliff’s foreshore is also an economic catalyst for the region through the continuous flow of visitors to businesses along the Bellarine Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road.

More attractions for visitors to Queenscliff

Searoad Ferries officially opened the new state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar ferry terminal facility in Queenscliff in April 2023 — a significant achievement after 15 years of planning.

Matt McDonald

Searoad Ferries CEO, Matt McDonald highlights the new features drawing people in.

‘It’s much more than a transportation service, there’s now a passenger lounge with function spaces serviced by two bars which provides a perfect venue for private events, meetings, conferences, and other gatherings,’ Matt said.

There are also more food offerings for those wanting a taste of the coast. The colourful dishes use local ingredients on an affordable menu at Tarra, a modern restaurant with breathtaking views of the bay.

Headed up by Executive Chef Michael Demagistris, it provides a next level dining experience for boarding passengers or visitors to the terminal.

The new facilities prove that the terminal is more than just a feast for the eyes.

The completed project created 71 jobs during construction, with an additional 22 new ongoing jobs to support the operation of both the ferry and terminal.

Searoad Ferries also teamed up with the Give Where You Live Foundation’s GROW initiative. This included engaging social enterprises to provide joinery supply and installation services, landscaping, cleaning, and Fruit 2 Work which supplied fruit and milk to the project construction team.

‘We have roles created across hospitality, customer service, maintenance and cleaning staff as well as indirect jobs around visitors coming to shop and stay in the region,’ Matt said.

Theproject brief was to make something iconic around the destination and it certainly delivered that,’ Matt said.

‘It’s wonderful seeing people visiting, really using the space and taking selfies while they’re here.’

Creating history

Matt says the new terminal is a source of pride for the community and offers a space for connection.

‘The old terminal was pretty basic with no shelter, which meant that people had to stand out in the rain while waiting to board,’ Matt said.

The design now offers shelter and allows a safer experience for all groups including people with disabilities and prams. It means there’s a separate pedestrian walkway rather than having to board next to the vehicles.

Along with the functional side of its design, Matt shares his favourite part of the terminal.

‘I love the jellyfish lights hanging in the foyer and people watching as they enter through the front doors,’ he said.

‘My earliest memory of Queenscliff is when I visited as a child with family and we stayed in the old Ozone Hotel.

‘We’d just chill out and learn about marine life at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre.’

With its rich history from the 19th century, large scale buildings were built - ambitious for its time - that still exist today and represent the heritage of the town. The design and materials reflect the quality used in construction.

‘In 100 years, I hope to see the community consider the ferry terminal as heritage and a design worth protecting,’ Matt said.

The  Searoad Ferries car and passenger ferry service on the southern tip of Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay is Australia’s busiest vehicle ferry service with over 8,200 crossings annually, carrying more than 950,000 passengers.

The project redevelopment was funded through the Geelong City Deal, with the Australian Government contributing $10 million, while Searoad Ferries contributed the balance of project costs.

For more information about the new Queenscliff Ferry Terminal, visit Regional Development Victoria.