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Bulletin - Vol 8 No. 6
November/December 2005


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Wadjemup Lighthouse (Rottnest Island) official opening

by Pauline O'Brien, Secretary LoA Inc

The Wadjemup Lighthouse (previously known as the Main Lighthouse on Wadjemup Hill at Rottnest Island) is now open for public tours. The Minister for Tourism, Mark McGowan, opened it on Saturday, 5 November 2005 - the first time that the public has been officially allowed access to the lighthouse since it was first lit 109 years ago. The occasion also provided the Minister with an opportunity to announce changes in the choice of island accommodation.

The main transportation on the island is by foot or by bike

Wadjemup Lighthouse in the centre of the island is a constant landmark for cyclists, welcoming the fit and adventurous to keep climbing to the top of the hill. Now the bus will be able to take you there as well.

The stairs leading down to the Keeper's Cottage belonging to the second Lighthouse

The day began at the Ferry Terminal in Fremantle as the press, the Minister and his party and invited guests including myself representing LoA Inc. battled against the wind and wondered just how rough the ferry trip was going to be. Arriving safely at Rottnest, the wind still blowing furiously, we were escorted to a bus and then it was off to middle of the island the easy way - by bus.

Following the speeches and ribbon cutting, the first tour took place while others were encouraged to enjoy a bite of morning tea. Many of the party and the press then went off on the first bus to hear about other accommodation initiatives on the island while other pharophiles such as myself and Paul Sofilas from Cape Leeuwin used up every last minute of the final tour of the tower to drink in the sights and photograph as many details as possible. Finally a tooting horn meant that if we didn't get down there now - we would be walking back to the Settlement and miss our ferry.

Mark McGowan, Minister for Tourism cuts the ribbon with the assistance of his young son

Close up of the Rottnest Island Lighthouse lens

Just a few of the tour guides who are excited about being able to share their love of Rottnest Island and its unique qualities – among them Steve Archer, Ann Gower and Ross Healey

It was my shortest visit ever to Rottnest as we left on the 12.30 ferry, the trip home made even more interesting by Paul and I meeting with the President of the Rottnest Island Voluntary Guides Association and learning more about the wonderful work they do on the island.

The desire to have the Lighthouse open to the public has been talked about for many years. There have been many hurdles to clear and a few modifications to be made to ensure the public could safely share in this wonderful opportunity to get a 360 degree birds-eye-view of Rottnest Island, including its glorious sandy bays, salt lakes and views all the way to the West End. Congratulations go to all parties involved in fulfilling the dream.

The souvenir t-shirt worn by Rottnest Island Board Tour Guides on the day, has on its back the exhortation:

"If the climb to the top 
doesn't take your breath away, 
the view will.

Pauline O’Brien enjoying the view from the top of the lighthouse looking out toward Salmon Bay with its glorious beach and snorkelling.
Photograph: Paul Sofilas

The Signal Station (already beautifully restored), the WRANs house (to become a cafe) and the Oliver Hill Battery Observation Post (still to be restored) will in turn be open to the public over the next year

Ross Healey, Rottnest Island Authority tour guide and Paul Sofilas, tour guide from the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse share stories as they look out over the salt lakes toward the Settlement

It's true and the climb is well worth the years of waiting to all of the regular holiday makers on Rotto who will be sure to flock to the Lighthouse for a different perspective on their beloved Isle, as well as the thousands of day visitors to Rottnest each year.

With the opening of the Wadjemup Light we now have three lighthouses, including Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste, open to the public in Western Australia. Each of them provides a unique opportunity to climb and a different viewing experience from the top.

The beautiful lamp comprises an octagon of eight sets of prisms. 

The light is concentrated into eight powerful beams, visible from a distance as one flash every 7.5 seconds. This pinwheel effect of eight simultaneous beams can only be seen from close by the lighthouse preferably on a misty night when you are there for longer than a day trip.

The foundations of the remainder of the original Keeper’s Cottage are still partly visible

The remaining structure of the first lighthouse, the base of the circular tower which rose from the middle of the keeper’s house, is now used as an interpretative space with information about Rottnest’s maritime heritage

Tour details

Tickets for a tour of the lighthouse including a bus ride from the Main Settlement are available at the Visitor Centre at the end of the Main Jetty. The tours run half hourly beginning at 9.00am and there is a limit of 10 persons allowed at a time. N.B. Children under the age of 5 are not permitted in the lighthouse.

$15.00 per adult
$12.00 Concession
$6.00 Children (age 5 - 12) (Must be accompanied by an adult) 
$36.00 Family - 2 adults & 2 children (age 5-12)

For more information, visit the Rottnest Island Authority website at http://www.rottnestisland.com

All photographs by Pauline O'Brien unless otherwise attributed.

Email Pauline O'Brien

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