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State Indexes > VIC > Cape Otway Lighthouse - 150th Anniversary

The Cape Otway Lighthouse 150th Anniversary

The 150th anniversary of the opening of the Cape Otway Lighthouse was celebrated on Saturday 29 August 1998. Over 4,000 people attended the lightstation celebrations throughout the day which culminated in the re-ignition of the old light at dusk.

150th Logo

The Cape Otway Lighthouse Oversees Shipping Once Again
The Cape Otway Lighthouse oversees shipping once again
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Cape Otway's Day of Celebration
Cape Otway's Day of Celebration
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Cape Otway's Day of Celebration

The celebrations were held in conjunction with the Olympics Arts Festival, "Sea Change". They were be held on the exact day the lighthouse was first lit 150 years ago.

Over 80 former lightkeepers, telegraph operators and their families were invited to attend and their presence added to the occasion with members of this party revisiting places and recalling memories of years long past.

Those who know the Cape say that there could not have been a better day with blustery winds and dark clouds hanging over the sea that the beloved lighthouse had protected ships from for the 146 years it was in service.

Historical displays mounted by Friend of Cape Otway Station (FOCOS) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) provided an insight into the background of the lighthouse, its establishment, and hardships faced by the families who tended the lights throughout its life until its replacement in 1994.

Through out the afternoon there was a constant cycle of small demonstrations, videos, plays and entertainment.

From 3:30 onwards the activities moved to the "Sea Change" stage which was well placed with the lighthouse as a backdrop off the the right. The concert and subsequent celebrations were hosted by Donald Walker, the author the book "Beacons of Hope" which is the story of this light and it's companion, the Cape Wickham Light of King Island.

The Sea Change Stage With the Lighthouse in the Background
The "Sea Change" stage with the lighthouse in the background
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The concert opened with a portion of a play, also called "Beacons of Hope", performed by the Apollo Bay and Mangala dancers dramatising the history of the light and its significance to the nearby town of Apollo Bay.

The tragedy of original inhabitants, the Katabanut people, who were wiped out in clashes with early settlers, was acknowledged in dance. They were of part of the Girai Wurrung and Gunditjmara nations who performed traditional dances and theatre as part of this concert. Ironically other aboriginal theatre was provided by the Wathaurong nation from the Geelong region who historically had played a role in assisting the settlers to overcome the Katabanuts.

The suspense built toward the re-lighting of the light as crowd was entertained by music from well know local identities. World renown flutist, Howlin Wind, played in his unique Australian sound as well as accompanying the "Beacons of Hope" play. Judy Jacques' Lighthouse Band played and was followed by and Shane Howard, formerly of the Goanna Band.

Then came what most of the crowd had come to see. At approximately 6:00pm amongst a fanfare of flares and photographers the old light was reactivated by the Hon. Marie Tehan, Victorian Minister for Conservation and Land Management. This was accompanied by the firing off of 50 flares.

The hi-light of the evening was to be seen on the seaward side side of the light with the re-activated beam shining through the split bullseyes to create the beautiful effect of groups of 3 rays.

This was further enhanced by the slight mist the rays from the light looked spectacular forming a wheel of spokes as the groups of 3 moved around the horizon and reaching out to the limit of the sea.

Funds raised from the day and a grant that was announced by the local member, Stuart McArthur will be used to help restore the nearby Cape Otway Telegraph Station and provide an improved entrance to the lighthouse reserve.

Howlin Wind and the Mangala Dancers
Howlin Wind and the Mangala Dancers
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Flares Accompany the Re-igniting the Light
Flares accompany the re-igniting the light
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Thousands Queued Up to Climb the Tower
Thousands queued up to climb the tower
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The light is ablaze for the first time since 1994
The light is ablaze for the first time since 1994
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Special Thanks to:

  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs

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