Victorian Lighthouse – Cape Otway


This will be a short and brief post, after suffering severe disappointment at not being able to shoot sunrise, we were not prepared to wait the 5 hours for it to open. This is the only photo I have.

It is Australia’s oldest working lighthouse. During winter to spring, the lighthouse is a vantage point for land-based whale watching as migrating whales swim very close to shore. The government reserved the tip of the cape as the site for a lighthouse. Access to the site was difficult; it was eventually reached overland and construction of the Cape Otway Lightstation began in 1846 from stone quarried at the Parker River.

The light was first lit in 1848 using a first order Fresnel lens; it was the second lighthouse completed on mainland Australia and it remains the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia. It was decommissioned in January 1994 after being the longest continuous operating light on the Australian mainland.  A telegraph station was added to the site when Tasmania was connected to the mainland by a submarine telegraph line from Cape Otway to Launceston in 1859.

Eight ships were wrecked along the coast of Cape Otway. These included the Marie Gabrielle (1851), Sacramento (1853), Schomberg (1855), Loch Ard (1878), Joseph H. Scammell (May 1891), Fiji (September 1891) and the Casino in 1932. The first American vessel sunk during World War II, the SS City of Rayville, was also sunk off the Cape by a German mine in 1940, which sank less than 24 hours after the British Ship S.S. Cambridge off Wilsons Promontory. The Americans built a radar bunker on the Cape in 1942 which is now open to the public.

The lightstation was decommissioned in January 1994 after being the longest continuous operating light on the Australian mainland. It has been replaced by a low powered solar light in front of the original tower whose focal plane is at 73 m above sea level. Its light characteristic is three white flashes every 18 seconds.


Year first constructed 1848 (first)
Year first lit 1994 (current)
Deactivated 1994 (first)
Construction sandstone (first)
fiberglass (current]]
Tower shape conical frustum tower with balcony and lantern
Markings / pattern white tower and lantern
Height 20 metres (66 ft) (first)
4 metres (13 ft) (current)
Focal height 91 metres (299 ft) (first)
73 metres (240 ft) (current)
Original lens First order Fresnel
Intensity white 1,000,000 cd; Red 4,000 cd
Range 26 nautical miles (48 km)
Characteristic three white flashes, separated by 4.5 s, every 18 s (currrent)