Clifton Springs 3222Clifton Springs is a coastal residential township on the northern side of the Bellarine Peninsula, 18 km. east of Geelong.
An early land owner was Thomas Bates, a member of the family which settled Lara and Batesford. Thomas Bates named his property Clifton, and mineral springs were discovered on it in 1870. The Government Analyst pronounced the springs to be superior to imported mineral waters, and a pleasure ground was developed the following year. There had been a pier nearby for transport of flour from the Bellarine Mill (1854-61), and a second pier was built in 1873. Hotel facilities were available at nearby Drysdale, and the springs with iron, magnesia and sulphur were developed. The springs area was called Fairy Dell.
In 1880 the Clifton Springs Company was floated, followed by a twenty-room hotel, salt-water baths and construction of a longer pier. Despite its natural advantages Clifton Springs' popularity for excursions declined as the Port Phillip Bay boats were withdrawn from service and the railway line took passengers through Drysdale to Queenscliff.
The hotel was burnt down in 1923 but rebuilt three years later. The quality of the beach declined as the sea-weed net broke up, and tons of shell grit were removed. The deepening of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay may have further contributed to a build-up of marine detritus. The pipe work which carried the spring water from a minor morass fell into disrepair and slippages deposited material on the beach.
In 1957 Wilmore and Randell, subdividers, marketed house allotments and acquired the hotel for a country club. The population rose from less than 200 persons to about 1,000 when the Bellarine shire council bought Wilmore and Randell's facilities in 1977, including a golf course (c.1962).
Clifton Springs population grew more than five-fold between 1976 and 1991, becoming joined to Drysdale by rural-residential developments. Facilities include kindergartens, a primary school, a community centre, sports venue and the golf course. A foreshore reserve has largely been reclaimed from alienation and the Fairy Dell picnic area provided. Clifton Springs also has neighbourhood and small linear reserves. Apart from corner shops, shopping is done at the Drysdale Village Centre.
The median house price in Clifton Springs in 1987 was $72,000 and in 1996 it was $97,500. (Drysdale's figures grew from about the same in 1987 to over $140,000 in 1996.)
The census populations for Clifton Springs have been 50 (1911), 146 (1966), 1,049 (1976), 3,657 (1986) and 5,847 (1991).
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