Historical Photographic Collections
MV Cape Don
Admiralty Reference # 1758
1896 - present
to the Public
It was interesting to note that on our latest trip down south, that
the Lighthouse has now been painted white.
|William Douglass (British)
Built by M.C. Davies and
First Lit :
|1896 December 1
|Round, conical masonary
tower. Originally unpainted, the tower had the natural stone colour of
The walls are 2m thick at
|26 n miles
|Chance Bros 3.7 m lantern
floating in a bath of mercury (the first example of this in Australia),
originally driven by clockwork mechanism
1896 Heavy mineral oil
1925 Vapourised Kerosene
1983 Electricity - the last
working light converted from kerosene
|Flashing every 7.5 seconds
for .02 of a second, with the intensity of 1 000 000 candlepower.
| 34 22.5 S
115 08.2 E
Open to the
Tours are conducted daily
|The Keepers cottages are currently
not available. One is now used as a visitor's centre and Museum.
The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
is as close to being my "Home Lighthouse" as I can get. Our family (Spencer
and 'Mic' Stanley) had a dairy farm in Forrest Grove, just 20 miles north
of Augusta. We did our holiday swimming lessons at Flinders Bay, holidayed
at Augusta and on those rare days off on a dairy farm, would head for the
Cape for a family picnic or barbecue.
River Senior High School had the lighthouse as its emblem and our motto
was 'Shine Forth'. On a recent trip 'back home', we called into the High
School and I was thrilled to discover that Toddy's (Mr Todhunter's) model
of a lighthouse was right where I remembered it being 34 years ago.
Hydrographic excerpt of Chart 116 - 1981
High rainfall, foggy weather,
strong onshore winds and sometimes ferocious gales, means that most ships
stay 15 to 20 miles out to sea to be on the safe side as they round the
1622 - area named Leeuwins
Land by Dutch navigators when the "Leeuwin" ("Lioness") rounded the cape
1801 - Named Cape Leeuwin
by Matthew Finders
1881 - initial proposal
to errect a light
1895 - initial delays experienced
when instead of the planned 2.44 metres of excavation for the foundations
they had to go to 6.7 metres until they reached bedrock.
1896 - Lighthouse completed
and first illuminated Dec 10th
1900 - Trinity House 6 wick
oil burner replaced by an 85mm kerosene lamp
1915 - AMSA assumed responsibility
for coastal lights
1925 - the kerosene mantle
was replaced by a cluster of three 55mm mantles
1982 - light converted to
1955 - radio navigation
1974 - when the tower was
painted, they found names and dates carved by the original stone masons
at various levels of construction.
1975 - auto alarm system
reacting to radio distress calls was installed
1992 - the light was automated
2000 - AMSA transferred
26 Lightstation properties, many with heritage listed buildings (Cape
Leeuwin included), back to Western Australia.
The original lantern and lens
are still in service The light designed for but never
used on the lower light at Cape Leeuwin was later used on the second Rottnest
light at Bathurst
Point. The Light was built using State
funds via the persistence of the Premier, Sir John Forrest as the Eastern
States were unwilling to. The Light provided an essential
guide for ships travelling to Albany which was then the Major Port for
Photo by Myles
The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
stands as a solitary sentinel,
watching over where the
Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet.
As a child, encouraged by
my Uncle Myles, I believed that the line of surf you can see directly off
the Cape, were the two great bodies of water crashing together, sometimes
in great anger.
|This is the view which first
meets you as you start the walk up towards the Lighthouse. It is so majestically
tall and the closer you get, the more you have to crane your neck to see
the top of the tower.
Now its only a matter of
counting the steps as you slowly climb your way via the circular staircase
to the top.
It never mattered what the
season or weather was like when we showed visitors around. On a balmy summer's
day it was glorious while on a rough winters day, it was spectacular.
While the images below
show the less familiar back view!
Source: Tour brochure, plan
originally Dept of Works.
An interesting plan drawing
simultaneously showing both the North and the East elevation, featuring the
second light which was never actually installed.
|| It would appear that
if built, the tower for the second light would have risen from the back
section of the store room.
Lighthouse Keepers Cottages
|Nestled together in the
slight protection offered from the elements, these three of an original
four cottages remain. The fourth was made of weatherboard. Of the
remaining cottages the two southern houses are made of the local limestone,
while the northern house is made of local granite. There are plans for these
to become available for accommodation in the management plans.
The Water Wheel
When showing off the beauties
of the south west to city folk or overseas friends and relatives, Cape
Leeuwin was always on the agenda. Either before or after a visit to the
Lighthouse, we would first call into the waterwheel and picnic area. Even
though they are no longer there, I can still vividly recall the pebble
encrusted cement tables near the Barbecues at which many a meal was eaten.
The Water Wheel was an ingenious
solution to providing fresh water to the Lighthouse Keepers. Water was
drawn from a fresh water swamp above sea level and carried by a timber
channel to a water wheel which as it turned operated an hydraulic ram that
pushed a steady supply of water up to the Lighthouse and the Keepers Cottages.
Photo by Myles Moran 1960s
The wooden wheel was calcified
by the continually running fresh water, which in turn meant the wheel could
no longer turn. The water was always sweet to drink after your barbecue
or take away fish and chips.
The hydraulic pump mechanism
can be seen just to the right of centre in this photo, although there are
none of the original pipes visible which would have transported the water
to the light and cottages.
||A 1963 family snap (showing
a less environmentally aware attitude than today!) whereby we would all
clamber to find the best position on the wheel, being sure to also have
a something to hold onto as it was incredibly slippery. More than one of
us ended up with a wet backside.
||1982 and time to introduce
the next generation to the family tradition of having your photo taken
at the water wheel. Still some water running, but not as much and the calcification
did not seem so slippery or beautiful in its colours.
||... and in 2002, 20 years later, amidst much
laughter and cries of "You've got to be joking!", from our youngest, we
With water no longer running,
the wooden wheel has become even more exposed without the continual laying down of
calcium and the wooden channel that carried the water to the wheel quite
deteriorated. Sadly, it would appear that the water is no longer able to
be drawn from the swamp.
I believe that in this photo,
our daughter is balancing on what is actually the remains of the hydraulic
|The windblown vegetation
with its gnarled and stunted trees and shrubs was an exciting setting as
we invented all sorts of games and stories while waiting for the adults
to be ready to go for a walk.
The weather smoothed rocks
were considered far too dangerous for the young ones to go exploring by
themselves. This photo taken about 1985, shows the red and white banded
communication masts which have since been removed.