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Cape Leeuwin – “Where Indian Ocean Meets Southern Ocean”


Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Precinct, Cape Leeuwin, Western Ausrtalia, Australia


I am always excited when traveling, that is why most of the time, every time I arrived in any new place I always feel joyful. I am always eager to see what the place has to offer. And the time we reached Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, a place which commonly called as the tip and the most south-westerly of Australia in the state of Western Australia, I jumped-off the bus with an ecstatic heart.

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We walked towards the wooden gate of the precinct and went to the historical cottage where entrance and the cafe are located. There was an audio tours available in the precinct but at the time of the visit, I was not able to get the audio device therefore I only depended on the notes to read on in each audio tour stops. I almost complete capturing all the audio tour stops except for “Stop 14 – Flora and Fauna”.

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At the start of my adventure in the precinct, the first thing to see is the Sarge Bay

To tell the story of my visit, I used the audio tour stops as guidance of what I saw while inside the precinct. For me, it was both fun and educational self-guided tour because I was in a place to see one of the heritage lighthouse in Australia and to be in the place that is extreme and dangerous most south-westerly of the country.

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Around the lighthouse, where I got chance walk further as I can, a chance to see the dangerous waters that surrounds Cape Leeuwin. The St. Alouarn Islands and some rocks that in old times where lighthouse was not yet installed was a deadly place for mariners.

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Seal Island (of St Alouarn Islands)

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Somes rocks nearby

Self-Guided Tour At Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Precinct

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At the gate

Stop 1 – Welcome

The entrance of the Cape Leeuwin Precinct is in the first cottage where it also housed the cafe and the little museum about the lighthouse. It is the first stop, where the audio device is to be pickup (which I did not) to be able to listen to information on each stops at the precinct. I would like to emphasized that before I left the precinct that day, I had some time to explore the museum and even though it was little or small museum, it is full of information about the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse like its constructions down to its light apparatus. The museum also displays information about the following : lighthouse service, optics, lighthouse station, lighthouse keepers, signalling, shipwrecks, weather station, and hydroacoustic station.

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Some displays at the museum

Stop 2 – History

When I reached this stop, I kind of surprised that there are lots of things to see in the precinct,  I just enjoyed my walking tour around the place.

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Showing all the 15 Audio Tour Stops within the precinct

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Looking back to the cottages while walking towards Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Stop 3 –  A Century of Community (Keepers Cottages)

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Three Historical Cottages

Three residences were built in 1895-6 to accommodate the three lighthouse keepers required for the continuous operation of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Station. Three keepers were considered necessary to fulfill the day-to-day operational duties and to assure efficiency in case of sickness or emergency.

Married quarters were provided to allow the keepers to maintain a normal family life. Each cottage had three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, store, and bathroom. The two southern cottages were built using local limestone. The northernmost cottage was constructed of local granite, originally excavated for the lighthouse foundations. Steeply-pitched timber roofs enabled these structures to withstand strong winds.

All three cottages were continuously occupied until 1988 and the last keeper to live in a cottage at Cape Leeuwin did so until 1998.

Stop 4 – Service Buildings

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Four service Buildings were constructed here in 1954 to 1975, each associated with the maintenance of the lighthouse.

The Kerosene Store was built in 1954 to store fuel for the lighthouse lantern (1954-1982) and as maintenance workshop.

The Radio Hut (1954) housed the radio transmitters as part of the Non Directional Beacon (NDB) navigational system. From 1975 to 1998 the hut was used as a base for sending meteorological data to the Bureau of Meteorology in Perth.

The Power House (1954) house three diesel-powered generators, which powered the radio transmitters.

The Engine Room/Transmitters Building was built in 1975 to house a single diesel-powered generator to power the NDB radio transmitters from 1975 to 1992.

Stop 5 – The Residential Precinct

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Despite the homes’ magnificent outlook of beaches, bays, rocky islands, they are constantly battered by summer winds and winter gales of salty sea spray.

Stop 6 – Cottage Three

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The duties of all Lightkeepers comprise the case and efficient maintenance of the light apparatus, tower, dwellings, equipment, jetties, roads, boats, etcetera, and the of the grounds attached to the Station.

We can thought initially that people lives in the precinct within almost the century life of the lighthouse lives their life with ease. Cape Leeuwin is located where a great spot to observe weather and it means it does not used to have a fairy weather. Therefore, their duties as lightkeepers were bounded by rules that focused on its true responsibilities around the lighthouse. Any visitors or activities that will affect their duties as lightkeepers are prohibited in the precinct.

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Regulations at the Lighthouse Station

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Duties of Lightkeepers as it describe

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An incomplete list of Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Keepers

Stop 7 – Lightkeepers Wives (Keeper’s Cottage)

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The fourth cottage, constructed in 1908, was a timber-framed weatherboard building located just south of the main stone cottages.

This cottage accommodated the relief keeper who also collected firewood. The area surrounding Cape Leeuwin is coastal heath with few trees suitable for wood supply. The relief keeper would travel as fas as Augusta to collect wood, using a cart drawn by bullocks. Wood for heating, cooking, and laundry was an essential of daily living for the residents of Cape Leeuwin Station.

In 1921, the relief keeper was withdrawn from service after a Government report suggested the fourth keeper was unnecessary.

The house was demolished around 1928 and the remains are its foundations.

Stop 8 – The Light

The lighthouse which “dedicated to mariners” as per Sir John Forrest (Western Australia Premier) during the official opening of it last December 10, 1896, did not disappoint the world of its purpose the moment it was inaugurated.

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The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Western Australia, and the third tallest in Australia, the tower soars 56 meters above sea level

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The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

The museum tells additional information about the lighthouse. It was designed by British Engineer William Tregarthen Douglass (Sir James Douglass’ son). And Colonial Architect George Temple Poole did the final plans.

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The constructions of the lighthouse was not easy as they started the work, modifications are needed for the stability of the lighthouse and its was nice to know that even old days has intelligence to reuse things such as the rubble stone which excavated for the foundation of the lighthouse has been used for cottage that is now used as the entrance of the visitors.

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Also learned from museum that its intended light to focused in dangerous waters  that surrounds the cape such Alouarn Island, South East Rocks and Geographe Bay Reef has been installed in lighthouse in Rottness Island, which luckily I got a chance to see when I visited the island as my last adventure in Australia.

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Foul Bay Lens

Foul Bay Lens captured inside the museum is loaned to Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association for display in this cottage due to close proximity of and historic link between two lighthouses.

Stop 9 – Whales (Marine Sanctuary)

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The islands of Cape Leeuwin are nature reserves and important nesting sites for birds such as rock parrots (Neophemia petrophila) and fairy penguins (Eudyptula minor). Colonies of seabirds on the islands are unusual in that southern cool water species nest alongside tropical species. This mix of bird species is attributed to the warm Leeuwin Current. The islands are also habitants for the New Zealand Fur Seal, which visits the bay to feed or ‘haul-out’.

Through winter to mid spring each year, Flinders bay is host to the Humpback Whale. The life of this whale is geared to a cycle migration, feeding in cold waters well to the south in summer and heading north to breed and calve in winter. The Southern Right Whale also visits the bay during these months. It breeds and calves in the protected bays of the south coast.

Stop 10 –  Nizam Memorial (N Class Destroyer – Wall of Remembrance)

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This memorial is dedicated to the ten sailors aboard the HMAS Nizam who lost their lives off Cape Leeuwin in 1945. Please take a moment to remember them.

At approximately 2210 hours on February 11th the HMAS Nizam was 11 miles off Cape Leeuwin, in transit from Port Philip Bay to Fremantle, when it was hit by a rogue wave causing it to hell and throw ten sailors overboard. Although the area was thoroughly searched no trace of the ten men was found.

In 1991, a reunion of the ‘N’ class Destroyer Association in WA suggested that a memorial to those lost at sea be constructed at Cape Leeuwin. Since the memorial was unveiled in 1193, the February 11th ceremony has become an annual event here and the site is now recognized as an Australian War Memorial in 1999 at a reunion.

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In the museum, I undertood more the story about Nizam Memorial as the ship was part of Allied operations during World War II. Due to a storm, 10 men overboard washed away last February 11, 1945.

Stop 11 – SS Pericles

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Mr J. J. Lyons, the lighthouse keeper on duty, saw distress signals from his post. He sprang into action, mobilising all hands at Cape Leeuwin to light fires all along the beach to guide lifeboats to the safe side of the cape.

From the museum, an information board displays shows wherein anybody can learned that historically, there were 23 recorded ship wrecks in Cape Leeuwin. There were 22 cases before the lighthouse built and only 1 case after it was built.

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Stop 12 – Where Two Oceans Meet  & Stop 13 – Flinders Starting Point

One of the most exciting part of my walking tour was the discovery that Cape Leeuwin is exactly located where anyone can enjoy two oceans at the same time. I walked towards the stop 12 and 13 which both related as it both describes the meeting of two oceans, Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean. I thought before that it only happens in country or city to have a border and chance to be in two place. Though there is no physical border to be seen in Cape Leeuwin but just imaginary border, the location of the cape with latitude of 34° 22′ S and longitude 115° 08′ E made it as point or mark where the two oceans meet.

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Cape Leeuwin – 34° 22′ S, 115° 08′ E

Cape Leeuwin marks the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

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While standing in the front of directional board made me experience by just moving my eyes or even my head without even taking a single steps gave me a chance to see two oceans. Looking at my left side I will see Southern Ocean and looking at the right side I will see Indian Ocean. It’s a wonderful moment of my visit in the cape.

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Scenery to enjoy in the direction of Southern Ocean

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Scenery to enjoy in the direction of Indian Ocean

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Cape Leeuwin Lookout Plaque

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Cape Leeuwin marks the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. At various times of the year the differing ocean currents, waves and swell patterns are evident in the waters around the Cape. This can create unusual conditions in the nearby waters.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current circles Antarctica west to east, between 40 degrees and 70 degrees south. Its northern edge turns north and heads up along the western Australian coast. From May to September each year the Leeuwin Current transports warm tropical water southwards around Cape Leeuwin and along Western Australia’s southern coastline.

Can you spot the meeting point?

Stop 14 – Flora and Fauna

I don’t have photos of this stop, therefore I don’t have information to tell what is this is all about aside from having idea that it tells what are the available plants to be seen around the cape.

Stop 15 – Radio Beacons

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The concrete footings located on the west side of the road mark, the location of the towers that supported a radio navigation beacon. The system, known as a Non Directional Beacon (NBD) operated in the ‘long wave’ band with a nominal range of 200 nautical miles.

The beacon transmitted a continuous signal in Morse code that allowed passing ships to determine their location based on its frequency and call sign. Morse code was a method of encoding a message so that it could be sent electronically Letters of the alphabet were represented by combinations of dots (.) and dashes (-), which were sent as long and short pulses of power.

The beacon’s call sign at Cape Leeuwin was ‘AXB’, which in Morse code is: – (A) -..- (X) -… (B)

The beacon sent this call sign three times (taking 22.5 seconds), then transmitted a long dash (22.5 seconds), then sent AXB again (7.5 seconds), then another long dash (15 seconds), then finally AXB again (7.5 seconds). When the 105 second sequence was over, the transmitter would repeat it again.

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Stop 16 – Weather Station

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Cape Leeuwin has provided one of the longest continuous observational weather data records the exist in Western Australia, indeed in all of Australia

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The strategic location of Cape Leeuwin is the main reason why it became a great place to put instruments that will observe the wind speed and direction, temperature, rainfall, barometric pressure, visibility, cloud formations and the state of the sea. Based on history, the station started to logged these information since Jan 1, 1897 until 1993 when non-staff ‘Automatic Weather Station’ installed in the precinct. The station is one of the longest continuous observational weather data records in Western Australia.

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Notes :
1. Plan to visit Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse ? Please check latest information here.
2. Location : Leeuwin Road, AUGUSTA WA 6290, Australia
3. Directions to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse:
a. Join Day Tours from Perth or
b. Take Transwa Train from Perth Station to Bunbury Passenger Terminal. Then, take Pemberton Bus to Augusta and get off at Blackwood Avenue. Finally, take a taxi from Blackwood Avenue to Cape Leeuwin.
Official Website : Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About DBA Mountaineer (811 Articles)
An IT Professional who is in love to travel to learn more about our world, like natures a lot specially mountains.

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