On the seacoast of Cape Otway National Park, a quick detour from Victoria's iconic Great Ocean Road, sits Australia's oldest lighthouse. Cape Otway Lightstation sits 90 metres above the 'Shipwreck Coast', a coastline filled with historic tragedy in claiming hundred's of ships within its 130km stretch toward Port Fairy.
The construction of Cape Otway Lightstation began in 1846, following the tragic loss of the Cataraqui ship to the wild's of the Southern Ocean, taking with it 400 passengers and crew. With over a century of ownership, Cape Otway Lightstation ceased to operate in 1994, but continues to attract tourists for its breathtaking ocean views and rugged coastline.
For those that might question entry fees to the iconic lighthouse, Cape Otway Lightstation offers more to the tourist than meets the initial eye. Each landmark situated within the site's well-kept grounds can be found manned by informative staff members on hand to answer questions related to historical events. As well as the steps of the iconic lighthouse to climb and possibly spot a migrating whale or two (between May -October), there is the Telegraph Station and refurbished WWII radar bunker to explore.
Although rich in relatively recent historical landmarks, the Cape Otway region stems back much further in time. The traditional owners of the region, the Gadabanud people, or people of the King Parrot language, lived in the forests and coastline of Cape Otway proving to be an isolated but resourceful Aboriginal clan. A replica Aboriginal shelter sits within the grounds of Cape Otway Lightstation, revealing ways in which the indigenous landowners lived, guided by an insightful and communicative staff member.
Budding palaeontologists will enjoy digging for fossils in a mini makeshift dinosaur bone sandpit. The obvious attraction for young children embraces the area's discovery of dinosaur fossils and bones unearthed at Dinosaur Cove between 1984 and 1994.
Lastly, if visitors wish to prolong their stay in the historic region, is it possible to book a B&B room in the Head Lightkeeper's House, a Heritage Listed colonial stone cottage built in 1857.
Cape Otway Lightstation can be found on Otway Lighthouse Road, Cape Otway, open 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm. Guided tours of the lighthouse run every 45 minutes. Visit the website for Australia's most significant lighthouse here.