Cape Otway Lightstation
South West Victoria
Cape Otway Lightstation is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia. Built in 1848, it hasn’t been turned off since and still guides passing ships along the rugged coast line of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. Imagine in the late 19th century having travelled by boat from Europe for months on end and the first glimpse you had of Australia was this foreboding coast line! Life at the Lighthouse in these early years would have been arduous. Deliveries of supplies happened only twice a year, as the lighthouse could not be left unattended. It had the most important of tasks, as it guided thousands of ships traversing Bass Strait. It also played an integral part in many rescues and shipwreck events.
The region that this camp is set in is littered with historic buildings, tourism attractions, eateries and accommodation. It reminded me of a remote Welsh village with its whitewashed buildings. School Groups staying here on camp are treated to an overwhelming number of these historic buildings and cultural activities. Walks can also be undertaken along the Great South West Walk from here. Such are the numbers visiting the Lighthouse (90,000 visitors) pouring through the gates of this historical landmark and it is not hard to see why they get such numbers. The Lighthouse was only decommissioned in 1994, up till then it was still a working Lighthouse, but now like all Lighthouses around Australia it has been automated removing the Lighthouse keeper. I still like the romantic notion, that it has this weather beaten, yellow mac, pipe smoking gnarly old lighthouse keeper battling the elements as the waves crashed about. It conjures up images for me of that well known poster of a person standing at the backdoor of the lighthouse and a tidal wave breaking over the lighthouse.
Various accommodation options are available from tent based to dormitory style to private lodges. It basically caters for all tastes and budgets. Dinning for groups takes place post tourism hours (when the Lighthouse is closed to the public). They even deliver hot meals to the tent based campers! Wow.
Numerous sculptures (some large) depict ocean mammals and other aquatic life which create huge educational interest for schools. I absolutely loved the huge abalone sculpture made from abalone shells and the Indigenous cultural shelter. This sought of stuff is so enriching for people visiting. However, nothing can beat the main attraction, which is to climb the Lighthouse to the top and enjoy the vastness of ocean views. You too may even spot a whale!