The Dell – Clifton Springs
Under the Clifton Springs Country Club and Golf Course is one of the Geelong region’s hidden treasures- the Clifton Springs Dell or Fairy Dell as it was also known. This natural amphitheatre has a beautiful setting and offers spectacular views across Port Phillip Bay with the You Yangs and Melbourne’s high-rise skyline in the distance.
Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the area was a popular spa destination with the springs offering crystal clear waters which were believed to have healing and medicinal benefits. The water was even once bottled and sold it is estimated some 5000 bottles were produced a year during the heyday and closed in 1915. A huge hotel stood close to where the country club now stands and people flocked by watercraft or were transported on tracks from the Drysdale railway station. The original hotel was destroyed by fire in 1921 and was later rebuilt, and later rebuilt for the Country Club.
The first World War and popularity of the motor car are both attributed to the demise of the springs. People were able to travel further and not rely on ferries and steamers to explore the peninsula.
Today some of the remnants of this time still exist although in ruin but they are fascinating. The uprights of the former long jetty which was used for bay steamers to dock still remain. Although these posts now are only used by the pelicans and other birdlife for resting places these old wooden posts are an amazing photo opportunity and are fascinating. Also along the foreshore is what was once a bathing jetty, today this also is nothing more than a few old pieces of timber rising from the bay. The area also features some old relics of some of the buildings which once stood on the site including old concrete forms some even still with their exotic ceramic tiles in place. The site and many of the remains are important assets on the Victorian Heritage Register.
After concerns of soil erosion and public safety the local authorities have put in much work improving public access and stability of the area. Today the Dell features a wonderful outlook platform which offers spectacular views across the bay and over the Dell below. There are quite a few information panels to give visitors an overview and help them enjoy this unique and historical piece of the Bellarine Peninsula and new stairs to the base of the Dell so the area can once again be enjoyed by picnickers.
The parkland at the base of the Dell is beautiful with protection from West, South and East and a spectacular vista over the bay at the North. Water is fairly shallow and is very popular with the young on a warm day. The location is also a popular destination for people with small watercraft who launch nearby and sail to the parkland and relax on the lush buffalo grass under the pine trees.
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