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Lighthouses of Western Australia


State Indexes > WA > Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

On the most Southern Westerly tip of Australia, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet, stands Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse as a solitary sentinel. 

It was totally manually operated until 1982 by a clockwork mechanism & kero burner, one of the last in the world.


The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Photograph: Annette Flotwell


Operation

LOCATION: Latitude 33° 22'S, Longitude 115° 08' E (Map)
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
CHARACTER: Flashing Every 7.5 Seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: 120v 1000w Tungsten Halogen Lamp
POWER SOURCE: Mains Electricity
INTENSITY: 1,000,000 CD
ELEVATION: 56 Metres
RANGE: 25 Nautical Miles
HEIGHT: 39 Metres

Overlooking the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Cottages
Overlooking the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and cottages
Photograph Courtesy : City of Bunbury


The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Photograph Courtesy: Martin Grundy

The Cape Leeuwin Waterwheel
The Cape Leeuwin Waterwheel
Photograph Courtesy : Brian Lord

History

Built from 1895 to 1896 the tower and cottages are built of local limestone.

The Cape Leeuwin Light was first mooted in 1881, but took 15 years to eventuate.

Disputes raged over the best site for the lighthouse. Also, until the Kalgoorlie-Coolgardie gold rushes Western Australia was the poorest State, and with no assistance from the Eastern States, it was unable to proceed with a project of this size.

Further delays occurred when it was found the the initial test bores that showed bedrock at 2.5 metres had only found a rock shelf and it was then necessary to excavate to 6.7 metres.

The original 1895 plan included two lights. The present high white light tower and in front of it, a low red light tower. Although the foundations for this low tower were completed, the structure was never built because it was considered that a second light would cause confusion and draw ships closer to the Cape.

Almost as famous is the waterwheel and wooden flume constructed to bring fresh spring water to the lighthouse from a distance away.

It has been calcified by the minerals and salts reminiscent of a limestone area known for its huge caves.

The original light source was kerosene wick lamp, then the world's largest, revolving in mercury bath.

This light had an intensity of 250,000 candelas and was visible for 40km.

In 1925, the light was upgraded to vapourised kerosene with a mantle, giving a light intensity of 780,000 candelas.

In 1955, a radio beacon was installed.

The light was totally manually operated until 1982 when it was converted to electricity replacing the clockwork mechanism & kero burner, one of the last in the world. The new 1,000 watt halogen lamp increased the candelas to 1,000,000.

This light was automated in September 1992.

The tower has seven floors and 186 steps.


The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Photograph : Jeff Williams

Aerial View of Cape Leeuwin
Aerial view of Cape Leeuwin
Photograph : Augusta Margaret River Tourist Association


Access

The lighthouse can be approached by sealed road via Augusta.

There are regular formal tours conducted by the Augusta Margaret River Tourist Bureau.

Accommodation is not available in the keepers cottages.


Aerial view of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham


The Surrounding Area


Special Thanks to:

  • Annette Flotwell for photograph

  • Augusta Margaret River Tourist Association for Photograph

  • Brian Lord for photograph

  • City of Bunbury for photograph

  • Jeff Williams for photograph

  • Laurie Sharp for photograph

  • Martin Grundy for photograph

  • Winsome Bonham for photograph

Sources:

  • Brian Lord

  • Cape Leeuwin Tour Sign

  • Federal Department of Transport (now AMSA)


Page last updated:
Page created:
23/2/99
30/5/98

Site constructed by: 
Malcolm S Macdonald t/as Lighthouse Computer Training & Development (1997-2001)
Copyright All rights reserved.
1997-2001 Malcolm S Macdonald and individual contributors as acknowledged.
2002-2007 Lighthouses of Australia Inc (LoA Inc) and individual contributors as acknowledged. & Lighthouses of Australia Inc (2002-2007)