This is Part 6 of our Melbourne and Great Ocean Road road trip – 22 to 30 November 2018
So far I’ve covered our 2 nights in Melbourne, a quick stop off at Torquay and Bells Beach, another quick stop and explore at Aireys Inlet and Split Point Lighthouse, our 1 night stay in Lorne, and 1 night stay at Apollo Bay.
This post covers our visit to Maits Rest and Cape Otway on the way to the next overnight stay at Port Campbell. I hope you like snaps & history!
Maits Rest is just a short 15 minute drive from Apollo Bay and of course I couldn’t resist a beautiful rainforest walk. It’s a really easy 30 minute walk along a mixture of board walk and gravel paths. I took a squillion photos with my phone but rest easy – here are just a few – you’re welcome!
Cape Otway, 30kms to the west of Apollo Bay sits at the southern tip of Victoria’s western coast where the Southern Ocean meets Bass Strait. The area around Cape Otway is included in the Great Otway National Park with rainforests and streams extending to the coast where a rugged coastline meets with pockets of sandy beaches.
Cape Otway Light Station – ‘The Beacon of Hope’
Cape Otway Light Station, made of sandstone, was constructed in 1848. It’s the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia and considered the most significant. The lighthouse known as the ‘Beacon of Hope,’ sits 90 metres above the pristine ocean of Bass Strait. Hundreds of lives were lost along this shipwreck coast – a sad but fascinating history which led to the building of the Light Station on the cliffs edge. For many thousands of 19th century migrants, who spent months travelling to Australia by ship, Cape Otway was their first sight of land after leaving Europe, Asia and North America. During winter to spring, the lighthouse is a vantage point for land-based whale watching as migrating whales swim very close to shores.
Here’s a video of the view that I took by walking around the perimeter of the Light Station … that was until someone decided to walk backwards towards me and thus my video promptly ended!
Telegraph Station & Heritage Buildings
Cape Otway’s heritage trail means a visit to the meticulously restored Telegraph Station, which linked the mainland to Tasmania with a sub-sea telegraph cable – a major feat of technology in its day.
The Cape’s Telegraph Station was built in 1859 and housed operators, their families and the telegraph operations rooms. Here’s a short video (1 minute 14 seconds) with a bit more info.
Also on the trail you can visit the original Keepers lodgings and workshop constructed in 1848. The Assistant Lightkeepers cottage (built in 1859) has been converted into a café and has, on loan from the Maritime Museum of Victoria, a display of a series of paintings of ships that sailed past or were wrecked along this dangerous coastline.
Continuing along the heritage trail, you can learn about the Light Station’s secret war history through artefacts and displays in a radar bunker. This was built in 1942 after a US ship was sunk by a German mine off the Cape. During World War II, up to 50 men were stationed at the Light Station to protect the coastline.
There’s also the Indigenous Cultural Sites within the Lightstaton precinct. Opened in September 2010 and hand created mainly by local Indigenous people in consultation with elders and Parks Victoria, the area includes a Meeting Hut, a Keeping Place, a Billabong Sculpture and a protected walk.
Here’s some photo’s snapped with my phone of the heritage buildings, Telegraph Station and inside where the families lived, around the grounds, and the Aboriginal Talking Hut.
Well that was a lovely morning spent at Cape Otway. I learnt a lot more than I was expecting to! Stay tuned for the next post as part of this series as we continue along the Great Ocean Road towards the next overnight stop at Port Campbell.
Ciao for now,