The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is located on the most extreme Southern Westerly point of Australia on a small knoll in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park , Western Australia. The lighthouse was built between 1895-1896 by the construction firm of John Wishart and M.C.Davies after they successfully won the tender. It was to become Western Australia’s eleventh lighthouse. The long-overdue lighthouse took nearly 15 years to eventuate from its initial conception. This was due mainly to the lack of government funding for the project and the arguments relating to the building location. Various locations, such as St. Alouarn Island, were nominated but it was the government that eventually decided on the Cape Leeuwin site which overlooks both the Indian and Southern Oceans. The reason for this location was mainly because it was close to the Quarry Bay mine which would supply the Tamala limestone for both the lighthouse and cottages.
The foundation stone was laid by Sir John Forrest on the 13th of December, 1895. As part of the ceremony, newspapers of the day and coins were put in a jar and buried under the foundation stone. In 1904 the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste was built making the dangerous south-west corner easier to navigate.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Light
The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse tower is 36m high, has seven floors and 186 steps. The original light was built 56m above sea level with a range of 25 nautical miles. The light was a kerosene wick lamp, which revolved in a mercury bath. It was later upgraded to a vapourised kerosene light in 1925. The lighthouse lights were manually operated until 1982, when it was converted to electricity. The light flashes every 7.5 seconds.
Also playing a major role during the early years of the lighthouse was the waterwheel and wooden channel were built in 1895 to bring fresh spring water to the lighthouse keepers’ cottages. The water also came in handy for the stonemasons during construction.
Today, the waterwheel, which had been exposed to the minerals and salts of the area, is encrusted with layers of limestone and is virtually frozen in rock.
In 1978 both the lighthouse and cottages were connected to the Augusta town water supply. The lighthouse is operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and also operates as one of the main meteorological stations in Australia.