Cape Otway Light House
You might remember a few months ago The Pillion and I had an epic adventure down Tasmania way.
No need to stress, I’m done flogging that horse. I would like to share some history and photos from another part of our trip though, one that took place on the mainland.
One of the things we’d both heard about was The Great Ocean Road (GOR). This road has always been described to us a must do on a bike because it’s both scenic and twisty.
The road stretches some 255km (160 miles) from Torquay south of Melbourne, west to Allansford which is about half way between Melbourne and Mt Gambier on the South Australian Border.
I have to agree, it most definitely is scenic and could be a lot of fun on a bike.
I say could be, because when we arrived back in Melbourne from Tasmania it was Monday, March 14. Sadly for us, that day was the Labour Day public holiday in Victoria.
We had a great run down to Torquay along the Princess Freeway from Melbourne, but then we hit tourist coaches full of sight see-ers (figuratively speaking, not literally), and rain… and wind… and more sight see-ers.
The Pillion and I rode for about 90km (56 miles) to Apollo Bay along the GOR at waaay less than the posted speed limit. In some cases getting down to about 25km/h (15 mph) for long stretches.
What should have been a nice hour and a bit ride along that stretch of GOR took us nearly three hours. To top it off there were few, if any places to overtake safely and absolutely no-one used the “Slow Vehicle Turnouts” provided, so passing was near impossible.
I suppose the one benefit of the ride was that we got to take in a little more of the scenery… well The Pillion did, but I had to watch for wayward tourist coaches.
We stopped at Apollo Bay, deciding to stay for two nights to refresh and gather our thoughts before continuing on with the remaining 3 weeks of our holiday.
At about 07:00 on Wednesday March 16, we set off from Apollo Bay and headed west along the GOR towards Port Campbell, with the intention of stopping off at Cape Otway for s sticky beak*.
Our daughter, The Pillion In A Million, had been there a few months earlier and recommended it as a must see destination.
Cape Otway is also the location of the oldest surviving officially built lighthouse on the Australian mainland. Overlooking the merge of Bass Straight and the Southern Ocean, Cape Otway light house stands as a testament to the courage and determination of the men and women who built and operated the light house from its construction and commissioning in 1848.
The light house is located about 30km (18 miles) west of Apollo Bay and is just off the GOR, so was an easy detour on our ride west.
In 1854 an overland telegraph was built between Geelong and Melbourne.
Soon after, a communications submarine cable was laid on the sea bed of Bass Strait between Victoria on the main land and Tasmania and by 1859, a telegraph station was built at Cape Otway which housed its operators and their families.
Unfortunately, the submarine cable failed 6 months after the telegraph station was commissioned. The cable had been problematic since its commissioning, and in the end, the decision was made to convert the telegraph station into a Lloyd’s Signal Station instead.
The station relayed details of ships passing Cape Otway to Melbourne until its closure in the 1880’s.
The beaches and cliffs surrounding the light house have proved to be very interesting to paleontologists, who in 1991, discovered a 43cm (17 inch) long femur from Timimus hermani, an ostrich-like dinosaur which is estimated to have grown to around 2.5m (8.2 feet).
I thought about grabbing one of these bones for Trouble, but thought better of it.
It took 70 men 10 months to carve the sandstone required to construct the 20m (65 foot) high lighthouse, so tight were the tolerances that no cement or mortar was used to hold it all together.
The lantern used in the light house was imported from London, England and was a first order Fresnel lens with three faces consisting of 21 polished lamps and reflectors mounted on a frame.
The frame revolved every 159 seconds and produced a flash lasting 3 seconds. This was followed by 50 seconds of darkness, after which time the whole process repeated.
The light house was decommission in 1994 and was replaced by a 4m (13 feet) high, low powered solar light in front of the original tower. Both the original and the current light could/ can be seen for 26 nautical miles (48 km) out to sea.
The Pillion and I spend quite some time walking around the grounds of the light house and the out buildings, taking in the history and the views.
The only gripe I have is the cost of entry.
Even though Cape Otway has a national park near by, which is free to enter. The light house grounds are leased by a private entity from the government. As a result, there is a fairly steep entry fee of $19.50 per adult.
I can attest that I was not the only one that raised and eyebrow at this cost of entry. To me, this is nothing short of extortion and sadly I saw one family turn and walked away.
Fortunately, we decided to dig deep and I supposed we are more the wiser for it.
The Pillion In A Million was right, it was worth a stop and I would recommend it as a stopover if you happen to be out that way.
- Sticky Beak: A look around, busy body or nosy parker
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