Stay & Play in the Cape Otway Lightkeeper’s House!
We had the pleasure of staying in the Head Lightkeeper’s House accommodation at the Cape Otway Lightstation during our recent Victorian road trip. This would have to be one of the most unique accommodation experiences on the Great Ocean Road, if not the whole of Australia…
Cape Otway is located just ten minutes off the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, at the end of a koala-forest-lined road. You can spot a koala from your car on this road without even trying. On the way in we saw three koalas, and on the way out, seven! With some just an arms length away, it’s common to see several cars pulled up on the side of the road with the inhabitants tumbling out to see a koala close-up.
The road then opens out to the astoundingly beautiful peninsula, dominated by the Cape Otway Lightstation. Drawing many thousands of visitors each year, the main attraction is the Cape Otway Lighthouse.
This is Australia’s oldest surviving lighthouse, and is recognised as its most significant. It was built 1848 in an attempt to prevent the many shipwrecks occurring in the wild straight between Cape Otway and King Island known as the eye of the needle. You can enter and climb the lighthouse during opening hours, and this beautiful, historical structure is your neighbour when you stay at the Head Lightkeeper’s House!
Built in 1857, the stone Head Lightkeeper’s House is where we spent our two wonderful nights at the Cape Otway Lightstation. All Cape Otway Lightstation accommodation is available for holiday rental, or just a casual overnight stay. I’d recommend staying at least two nights, but it would be easy to stay longer, as it is such an amazing location.
One of the really great advantages of staying here is that after the tourist precinct closes for the day at 5pm, you have it all to yourself (apart from a caretaker at the Cafe), and can wander about at will.
Rolling lawns are everywhere, making it all very accessible, and a real pleasure to explore – particularly after closing time! You can stroll down to the lighthouse on sunset and admire the endless ocean views in solitude – or creep down at midnight to look for the resident lighthouse ghost, like I did!
The children and I had a wonderful time discovering the different buildings and “secret” walking paths circling the Indigenous cultural area after everyone had gone home – the kids said that it was just like stepping into a Famous Five novel! You can read all about the Cape Otway precinct attractions in detail in our Victorian travel blog – Cape Otway here.
A tour of the Head Lightkeeper’s House
The Head Lightkeeper’s House itself is located just down the path from the lighthouse. This majestic heritage house has so much to offer holidaying families or couples.
Entering this house really is like stepping back in time. It features large, stately rooms with wooden floorboards and heavy antique furniture. Leather Chesterfield lounges line the cosy lounge room so that you can relax in front of the wood fire (there are also electric heaters dotted around the house).
An old wind-up black telephone sits on a shelf, still wired to the wall. Grand sailing ship paintings line the walls. The kettle on the range whistles a cheery summons to tea…in some ways, staying here is like being left in to a closed museum overnight – what a fun experience!
There is a huge separate dining room and also fully-outfitted kitchen with a gas range, microwave and large refrigerator plus another large dining table, so it’s easy to self-cater – or you can simply buy delicious meals from the Café just across the path.
Full English breakfasts can be included in your accommodation price, plus upon arrival the Café delivers a complimentary Devonshire Tea to the house. It’s a lovely, welcoming touch, and just what any hungry travelling family would appreciate!
The nearest service town to Cape Otway is Apollo Bay, about twenty minutes away – but really, once you’re at the Cape Otway Lightstation, you are not going to want to leave it to go anywhere else, so stock up on your way in!
The master bedroom of the house has built-in wardrobes and a king sized bed that can split to singles, plus a bunk bed.
The large second bedroom sleeps five more. This house can easily accommodate families, groups or a couple, and with further bedrooms that can be either opened up for large groups, or locked off for smaller ones. The whole house can accommodate up to sixteen people. There are two bathrooms and another separate toilet, so there’s plenty of facilities.
Another accommodation option if you don’t want the whole main part of the house, is staying in the locked-off end of the house as a Bed-and-Breakfast, which is also at a cheaper rate.
To get a feel for the Head Lightkeeper’s House, you might like to take a stroll with me through the main house in this video…
At Cape Otway, it was just so easy to slide into a more relaxed, nostalgic way of life…
During the day you will almost certainly be exploring outside, taking advantage of staying within the precinct – right outside of course you will find the Cape Otway Lighthouse just waiting for you to climb it, but there are also museum outbuildings, the Telegraph Station, a World War 2 bunker, sculptures and much more.
In the evenings, the well-stocked games cupboard provides a source of endless old-fashioned fun to share with the family. Play a game of Checkers together, or perhaps do a jigsaw puzzle. There’s plenty of historical Shipwreck Coast books to read, or you can watch a DVD on the flat screen TV (it’s a good idea to bring a favourite DVD or two along, as the resident DVD selection is limited).
There are lighthouse and sea views from the lounge room and master bedroom of the house to remind yourself that you really are staying somewhere very special. It’s easy to imagine yourself back in the 1800’s with a huge sailing ship foundering on the rocks in stormy weather! But shipwrecks aren’t the only thing Cape Otway is famous for – it also happens to be a prime whale-watching vantage point in the whale-spotting season!
At the end of our stay at the Cape Otway Lightstation we most-reluctantly set off for our next stop along the Great Ocean Road – but Cape Otway was not to be so easily forgotten. Probably the most telling vote for Cape Otway came from my children after we had arrived home at the end of our Road Trip. We’d stayed in eight different hotels over two weeks, and seen countless sights, but when I asked both children what their favourite place had been, the answer was unanimous – staying at the Lighthouse! I have a feeling they will always remember it, too.
If you get the opportunity to take your family to Cape Otway, don’t miss it – it’s the stuff adventures are made of.
You’ll find current Accommodation rates for the Head Lightkeeper’s House here. You can read all about the features of the Cape Otway Lightstation precinct and book your accommodation – including the Head Lightkeepers House where we stayed – at the official Cape Otway Lightstation website here or phone them on 03 5237 9240. The Cape Otway Lightstation is located off the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
The Cape Otway Lightstation location on Google Maps…
Have you been to Cape Otway? Tell us in the comments below…