Lights by Region
MV Cape Don
Leon Chidlow (Custodian/chief guide of the Light for the Busselton/Dunsborough Tourism Bureau) truly achieved his goal to "make it a day to remember" for the families and descendants of former Lighthouse Keepers who had spent time at Cape Naturaliste.
Many locals and tourists to the area dropped in on the open day for a look around. The entire Light Station grounds were open for the whole day, including the second lighthouse keeper’s cottage, which is used as a shorefront and Museum, and the third lighthouse keeper’s cottage (normally closed), which was used to house the various displays including our LoA Inc. and MV Cape Don displays in the designated “Lighthouse Room” which also contained a wonderful collections of articles on the early Lighthouse Keepers and their families.
As part of the LoA Inc. display I also had the scanned images of Ralph Meakin’s pre 1971 slides, including some of the MV Cape Don, which drew memories of what it meant to have the Lighthouse Tender call with supplies and to tend to the light. Many were interested to know that the MV Cape Don was the last of her line which has not been scrapped and is under the care of the MV Cape Don Society who have volunteers working on her restoration.
The CWA which did a roaring
trade in delicious Devonshire Teas and sandwiches, were set up in the kitchen
of the house. One older lady was just standing there watching them at work
and turned to me and said, “I am trying to imaging my Mother standing at
that stove cooking. We lived in this house.” I overheard two other ladies
talking about when they lived in that house (at separate times), that the
“Whale Room” had been their bedroom with up to four children sleeping in
the one room!
It is amazing to compare
photos taken at different times to see just how much regrowth of flora
there has been in recent years.
Extra activities for the day
included olden day favourites such as apple bobbing and the telling of
ghost stories, alongside more modern activities such as face painting,
helium balloons and a sausage sizzle. Others manned a stall with a variety
of souvenirs up by the Lighthouse itself, and of course, its not a Birthday
unless there is a cake.
Others to speak were the granddaughter of Baird, an original keeper, who read two heartfelt poems, Representatives of the local Tourism Association, Leon Chidlow who acknowledged the wonderful team effort which had enabled the day to take place, and lastly Barry House the local MLC, who spoke movingly of how important the Lighthouse as a symbol of the region has been to himself and his family. The highlight apart from cutting the cake and singing Happy Birthday! was the replacement of the time capsule, due to be opened again sometime in the future. The original time capsule had included coins and press clippings from the day it was opened and more again from when it was opened in the 1960s.
We all had a wonderful day and simply could not believe how quickly the time went.
The Centenary celebrations provided a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and reminisce. New contacts were made, old friendships renewed, childhood acquaintances rediscovered and life stories swapped. The mood was very much one of wanting to preserve the history of Lighthouses, not just Cape Naturaliste, as many of the families had spent time at a number of different Light Stations. While our motto is “Preserve, Protect, Promote” I believe it is vitally important that it is not just the physical buildings that we are talking about but also the preservation of the entwined histories of the Lighthouse and the various families who spent part of their lives there.
Cape Naturaliste is a beautiful Lighthouse
in a glorious setting.