Cape Otway Lighthouse

The Cape Otway Lighthouse at the northern end of The Eye of The Needle was the oldest operational lighthouse with unbroken service on the mainland Australian coast until it was decommissioned in January 1994.


The 84 kilometre gap between, Cape Wickham on, King Island and Cape Otway is known as the “Eye of the Needle”. It is the Western entrance to Bass Strait. Sea captains would hug the Victorian coast, to avoid being driven into King Island in bad weather, resulting in many wrecks.

Access was a problem in establishing the lighthouse and after three attempts, the Cape was finally reached by land. A site was selected and after great difficulty a road was cut. Construction began in 1846 with the light being lit in August 1848 making it the second light to be established on the mainland coast.

The materials used consisted of stone quarried at the Parker River, 5 kilometres away.

The first keeper was dismissed after only three months for “interfering” with the light. He was replaced by Henry Bayles Ford, a former sea captain tended the light for 30 years. His son George Ford rode on horseback to Camperdown to get help when the Loch Ard was wrecked nearby in 1878.

The light was extremely isolated. Supplies were delivered every 6-12 months, landed at Parker River and brought overland. The only contact was with the few farmers in the area and rare official visits. Later a road was cut to Colac, but was not passable to motor vehicles until the mid 1930s.

A fixed red light was added in 1881. The power of the light was increased in 1891, in 1905 and again in 1939.

The light was decommissioned in January 1994 after being the longest continuous operating light on the Australian mainland. It has been replaced by a low powered solar light in front of the original tower. Over 3,000 people attended the ceremony to mark the turning off of the light.

Cape Otway celebrated its 150th anniversary in August 1998.


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Title Address Description
Split Point
Federal St, Aireys Inlet VIC 3231, AustraliaSplit Point
Cape Otway
1140 Lighthouse Rd, Cape Otway VIC 3233, AustraliaCape Otway
Lady Bay High
89 Merri St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, AustraliaLady Bay High
Lady Bay Low
80 Pertobe Rd, Warrnambool VIC 3280, AustraliaLady Bay Low


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Please include this lighthouse’s name, the keepers full name and what years they were keepers. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on.


Admission is charged to access the grounds


Tours are available  External link


Accommodation is available  External link


Detail to come.

Historic Light

First Exhibited1848
Permanent Tower
LocationLat: 38° 51.4230' S Long: 143° 30.7030' E
Original OpticCatoptric
Current OpticChance Bros 1st order
ConstructionMasonry tower with white lantern
Height20 m
Elevation77 m
Light Source
Power Source
NotesConverted to: electric 1939, Solar 7/1/1994
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.

Current Light

First Exhibited1848
LocationLat: 38° 51.4230' S Long: 143° 30.7030' E
Original Optic
Current OpticVega VRB-25
ConstructionWhite GRP hut, located in front of old masonry tower
Height2 m
Elevation77 m
RangeNom: W: 19 NM R:15 NM Geo: 21 NM
CharacterFl. W. 10 s with Red sector
IntensityW: 67,018 cd R: 14,074 cd
Light Source12V 35W C8 Halogen
Power SourceSolar
NotesAs at 2014
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.