Fort Queenscliff formed part of the defence of Port Phillip Bay during WW2. From about 1936, Fort Queenscliff was the main recruit training centre for the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) for Australia. It was also the Headquarters for the defence batteries located at Crow's Nest, Franklin, Lonsdale, Nepean, Pearce, and Queenscliff.

Sgt. G.H. Warr of the Royal Australia Engineers was based at a number of the fixed defences around Port Phillip Bay between 1939 and 1945, including Fort Lonsdale, Fort Crow's Nest, Fort Nepean, Fort Queenscliff and Fort Cheviot. The following information on the Electric Lights (ELs) and engines at Fort Queenscliff are based on his recollections.

There were two operational Electric Lights (ELs) and two engines located at Fort Queenscliff. EL 5 was the fighting light for B1 Battery when used in Port Phillip Bay and EL6 was the fighting light for B2 battery. EL6 not able to cover The Rip area. 

A1 Battery at Fort Queenscliff used an Electric Light (EL3) at Crow's Nest to light its targets. In addition to EL5 at Queenscliff, B1 Battery at Fort Queenscliff, used EL4 at Crow's Nest to illuminate its target area. 

The Gardner No. 9 kerosene engines at Fort Queenscliff were built in 1909 and would take about 30 minutes to start. They were unable to supply the required full output to the newer lights that had been installed. Spare parts for the engines were not readily available. So things were not looking too bright!!

EL5 and EL6 Emplacements were hewn out of the cliff face about 12 feet above high water mark. They were only accessible via a vertical shaft from the engine room which had a vertical ladder in it. From this lead a a timber lined tunnel to EL6 with a branch off this tunnel to EL5. As there was no alternative escape route from EL5 and EL6, individual female personnel were not permitted in these emplacements.

EL3 and EL4 Emplacements were 9 ft 6 ins wide concrete emplacements with square fronts complete with 1/4 inch armour plate glass panels. The panels had to be lifted clear for fighting. While the panels did not reduce the light strength they did result in unwanted stray reflected beams. 

On the second day of WW2 one of the guns at Fort Queenscliff fired a warning shot across the bow of a Bass Strait freighter. On another occasions one of the anti-aircraft guns at Fort Queenscliff fired at an unidentified aircraft that flew near the Fort in May 1940.

Fort Queenscliff Museum (Ph. 03-5258 1488) which opened in 1982, is part of the Army Museums Network under the aegis of the Army History Unit. Public access is now restricted to one hour guided tours, of the Fort's Museum, its restored buildings, ramparts, guns, arms stores and gardens. Tours are held at 1pm and 3pm on weekends and public holidays and daily at 11am and 1pm and 3pm during school holidays (September and December to January), and at other times for schools and groups. The Fort is still used by the military, now housing the Australian Army's Soldier Career Management Agency.

One of the famous Disappearing Guns is on display at the Fort. It could shoot a 100kg round 8,000m. After it had fired the gun would vanish as its recoil took it underground on its moorings.


Photo by Jason Troy May 2004

Most likely a harbor defense searchlight
shelter for a 60-inch searchlight

Photo by Jason Troy May 2004

What is this? Can anyone help.


Photo by Jason Troy May 2004

 What is this? Can anyone help.


Photo by Jason Troy May 2004

Australian Survey Office survey marker


Photo by Jason Troy May 2004

Is this an ammunition bunker?



I'd like to thank Nelson Lawry, Michael O'Brien and Jason Troy for their assistance with this home page.



"The Newsletter of the Friends of Fort Queenscliff", August 2002


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 28 July 2002

This page last updated 18 January 2020