Road Trip! Day 6 – Cape Otway – Lightstation – Dinosaur Dig
How lovely it was to wake up this morning to the peace and quiet of the Cape Otway Lightstation before the day tourists started arriving – and to see a lighthouse out of my bedroom window!
We went over to the Cafe for a very tasty full cooked breakfast – poached eggs smothered in the most delectable mushrooms for me – yum! After breakfast we were eager to explore the Lightstation grounds again – but this time everything would be open!
The lighthouse certainly isn’t the only thing to see on the Cape Otway Peninsular – there’s so many interesting and fun attractions all included in the one day-admission price. Everything is dotted around within easy walking distance of one another across manicured lawns just perfect for picnicking and stunning views from just about everywhere.
We had had been given a comprehensive map at the entrance to help guide us around the grounds, and there was so much to see and do, we weren’t sure where to start! In the end, we decided on visiting the Telegraph Station first.
The Telegraph Station building is well-worth a good look around. There is a guide on site to explain the buildings history, as well as all of the displays inside. There is a working telegraph tapping away which is fascinating to examine. The guide likened it to modern day text-messaging, which we found quite funny – we’ve kind of gone backwards, in a way!
Inside you will also find a rather unexpected dinosaur display – fossil replicas, as dinosaurs bones have been discovered nearby. We had been told that there was even an actual dinosaur excavation still happening just a few minutes drive away in the next cove. We decided to visit there, as it sounded too good to miss! But the thing the girls found most interesting about the Telegraph Station building was that it was noted on our map to be haunted!
We then walked over to the highly-anticipated Lighthouse on the very tip of the Peninsular. The most fun thing about this lighthouse, is that you can actually go inside of it and climb right up to the top – none of us had ever been inside of one before, so this was a first for all three of us!
The children loved racing up the spiral stairs, and then climbing the final metal ladder-stairs at the top (you need to be reasonably mobile to climb this last section). The huge lighthouse lamp is of course at the very top, and you can walk out and all around the outside balcony for what must be one of the best ocean views in Australia!
Here is a video of us excitedly ascending the Cape Otway Lighthouse…
This beautiful lighthouse is considered to be Australia’s most significant, and sits at the tip of the Otway Peninsula, Victoria. This of course is a notorious shipwreck coast, and the lighthouse was built in 1846 to help prevent shipwrecks that were happening all up and down the coast, but particularly in this area – commonly known as “the eye of the needle”.
From Cape Otway to the opposite King Island, there’s just a 90km gap between the two points – which in sailing ship terms is not much room at all if you are in a sailing ship with a gale-force wind blowing you the wrong way – or navigating blind in the fog!
Although Cape Otway is no longer a working lighthouse, there is a smaller light operating right in front of the lighthouse, and the huge lamp inside the lighthouse is still kept fully operational. The lighthouse guide at the top is explained all about the lamp mechanism which was great, because the kids had questions galore – as did I!
After the lighthouse, we walked up the hill to the World War 2 Bunker building.
The World War 2 Radar bunker was built to help defend this area of Australia’s coast after a US ship was sunk by the Germans. From this location there is some of the best views down to the lighthouse and along coast.
Down from the bunker we entered the Understanding Culture art display which highlights local Aboriginal culture, and the Caring For Culture and Country area. You enter this area via a covered tunnel of Teatree forest. Here, local Indigenous guides teach us how nature and humans are interlinked. Our guide Brad spoke to the children and I of helping to protect the animals and earth around us.
The kids learned so much from Brad – from how boomerangs were made to what local animals were around – and what they liked to eat. He even took us on a tour of local bush tucker – all growing right under our noses! We tasted leaves, berries, bush-tomatos – the kids thought the sweet berries were delicious, and loved hearing all about Aboriginal ways. The underlying message of preservation and our responsibility to care for our environment from an Aboriginal cultural view point was so incredibly valuable for them to learn – you could see them soaking it all up – priceless.
We bid goodbye to Brad and wandered over to the workshop, which was chock-full of historical relics. I loved the fact you could still see a section of the original shingle roof! From there it was a quick hop across the road to the Café for lunch.
Lunch at the Otway Lightstation Cafe is a must of course – they have the most yummy gourmet food at very reasonable prices. We ate here every chance we got, and were totally spoiled with sumptuous meals from the very skilled Chef, Sue.
You can choose from several small rooms to eat in, some with lighthouse and ocean views, others with majestic sailing-ship artworks on every wall. In one room there is an informative video presentation playing so you can brush up on your lighthouse history while you have breakfast or lunch. Or just catch up on your emails with their free Wifi connection.
Also located in the Cafe area is the Weather Station – this is the real, modern day reference station for the Bureau of Meteorology – measurements from this very location are what the weathermen and women report to us on our TVs and radio everyday. The weather measurements here are recorded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
After lunch we decided to try and find the annual 3-week dinosaur dig going on at nearby Point Franklin. We drove out to Point Franklin, just 10 minutes down some dirt roads, and a ten minute dirt track path down to the beach dig site. We did see a small snake on the trail, but thankfully it was way more scared of us than we were of it!
The first thing we saw when we clambered down to the beach was a huge rusty anchor – we wondered if it had come from a shipwreck – it certainly looked the part! We walked down the beach and could see about twenty people digging, chipping and sawing – we had found the dig!
We approached the site and were greeted by the very friendly palaentologists and their crew of passionate students and volunteeers. They generously showed us all the different fossils they had found that day – including three separate dinosaur bones – we were astounded – we were actually looking at 100,000,000 dinosaur bones! What a wonderful experience for us all
To keep up to date with the amazing dinosaur excavation news, go to http://www.dinosaurdreaming.net/
After the dig, we headed back to our accommodation to have dinner – the most delicious gourmet Beef Goulash pies and salad – delectable!
We then went outside to find that the dinosaur digging crews we had met that afternoon at the dig were staying in the Precinct too in tents! The kids thought that was great, and they even got to have a game of croquet with them!
Later the girls took advantage of almost noone being in the park after closing, and went hill-rolling. Over and again, they rolled down the grassy lawn hills, giggling, laughing and crashing. They we all walked down to the lighthouse again to see the sunset – beautiful – what a magical place the Otway Cape is!
The Cape Otway Lightstation Precinct is an absolute must-see on a Great Ocean Road trip. Leave yourself a complete day to visit, or better-still do what we did and book in to stay at the historical accommodation available onsite – it would have to be one of the best places to stay along the whole Great Ocean Road. It’s completely unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else – and best of all, after they lock the gates at 5pm nearly everyone goes home, so you get to wander about and have the whole place to yourselves!
Today’s route – a rest day at Cape Otway!
You can read our Road Trip! daily posts here:
Read the Road Trip! Day 1 blog here -Canberra to Gundagai to Wangaratta
Read the Road Trip! Day 2 blog here – Wangaratta to Glenrowan to Aireys Inlet
Read the Road Trip! Day 3 blog here – Aireys Inlet to Lorne
Read the Road Trip! Day 4 blog here – Lorne
Read the Road Trip! Day 5 blog here – Lorne to Apollo Bay to Cape Otway
Read the Road Trip! Day 6 blog here – Cape Otway
Read the Road Trip! Day 7 blog here – Cape Otway to 12 Apostles to Port Campbell
Read the Road Trip! Day 8 blog here – Port Campbell to Warrnambool to Port Fairy
Read the Road Trip! Day 9 blog here – Hearn’s Beach & Port Fairy
Read the Road Trip! Day 10 blog here – Port Fairy to Warrnambool to Ballarat
Read the Road Trip! Day 11 blog here – Sovereign Hill gold mining village, Ballarat
Read the Road Trip! Day 12 blog here – Ballarat and the road home…
Tomorrow we will be spending another night in Cape Otway…we’ll check in with you then!
Have you travelled (or want to) travel to Lorne, Cape Otway or along the Great Ocean Road with your family? Comment here!