Perth, we are so close to you! Our flight back to Melbourne is tomorrow afternoon, and, as usual, we have lots of plans for the rest of the trip. Our next destination is Margaret River Region, which is located just 3-4h drive from Perth. It stretches 140km from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. It is also one of the famous holiday destinations, as it has everything for everyone: wines and beers, gourmet food, caves, ocean, a lighthouse, forests and walks.
As for us we have major items in our list: visit the highest lighthouse in Australia - Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and explore one of the famous Margaret River caves.
Historic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is situated at the most south westerly tip of Australia, standing at the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet - 8 kilometres west of Augusta town. A famous maritime landmark and important meteorological site from which data is collected, the tower stands 39 metres high from ground level and 56 metres above sea level. Its piercing beam, which has an intensity of one million candles, shines over the surrounding rugged sea and landscape for 26 nautical miles or 48 kilometres.
Cape Leeuwin is named in honour of the Dutch ship Leeuwin (Lioness in Dutch), the first ship known to have sailed in the Cape Leeuwin area. The Leeuwin sailed past in 1622, but it was the English explorer Matthew Flinders who named it Cape Leeuwin, in 1801.
As one of the great Capes of the Southern Ocean (along with the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn and Tasmania), the Cape Leeuwin coastline has a treacherous history as an important maritime landmark, and a final resting place for 23 ships (all but one of which were wrecked before the lighthouse was built!). In 1881 a proposal was made to build a lighthouse on the Cape to make shipping safer. Building began in 1895 and was completed in 1896. Constructed from local limestone, the foundation had to be excavated three times deeper than planned, to reach the secure bedrock below.
The Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is one of the major tourist attractions in the area, and it has the fees, opening hours and occasional mobs of people that go with this. You cannot enter a lighthouse precinct without paying an entrance fee, but it is worth it. Prepare to book in advance the Lighthouse tour as well.
The lighthouse tour is a physical endurance challenge. After seven floors, and 186 steps, you will be knocked senseless by the gale force winds on the viewing deck. It’s a windswept place and how I would have hated to be a lighthouse keeper here back in the day! Fortunately it’s now automated and instead of climbing up the 176 steps with a bucket of kerosene, you can just climb with your camera for the views.
We enjoyed the tour and spent more than two hours reading all descriptions of the Lighthouse Precinct Buildings and listening to the audio-guided tours. It was a quite interesting experience and we would love to come again there one day.