Australian singer-songwriter Josh Pyke was on to a good thing when he sang about moving into a lighthouse in his single The Lighthouse Song. Pyke had identified a traveller’s fantasy and plucked it beautifully from his guitar. It’s a fantasy drenched in wanderlust and sparks curiosity in any traveller’s mind. Who wouldn’t be lured by a white-washed beacon stemming from a craggy cliff as rambunctious waves barrel to the shore? And, who wouldn’t want to pack a bag, load the car and drive to the nearest coast soon after?
There are some lighthouses in Australia that could call out to any traveller wishing to pursue such a fantastical and nautical dream. While the ability to actually live in a lighthouse is out of reach for wayfarers, one can just as well journey to the nearest coastline and ponder the possibility.
Head to Byron Bay for Cape Byron Lighthouse
Byron Bay is a beacon in itself; an escape for travellers seeking a healing travel experience. Located on the northern coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay’s relaxed atmosphere coaxes its visitors to pursue the town’s artisan and farmers markets, the world-class music festival Byron Bay Bluesfest, organic cuisine and laid back lifestyle. Those seeking refuge from the madness of their city life can indulge in a wellness or yoga retreat while absorbing ‘the good life’ vibes that only Byron Bay can offer. Head coast-side to take in breath-taking views of rugged headlands as you’re nestled by hinterland to your rear.
After a morning of taking in water adventures such as surfing, whale-watching and hang-gliding, brush off the sand and make a segway for Cape Byron. This headland is part of the world’s oldest caldera, or rim of an extinct volcano; a podium for Cape Byron Lighthouse. Cape Byron Lighthouse was completed in 1901 and marks Australia’s most easterly point. Salute the ocean and you may just be rewarded with a dolphin or hump-back whale pod spotting. Pretty walking tracks orbit the area and are a great opportunity to view Cape Byron Lighthouse from a new angle.
Set sail for Rottnest Island and a day with Wadjemup Lighthouse
The inaccurate name Rottnest, or ‘rats’ nest’, bestowed on this island by Dutch explorers in the 17th Century doesn’t deter travellers in the present day to travel here. Those so-called rats are the island’s bespoke marsupials called quokkas and their cute faces intrigue anyone who visits here. You can take the short ferry ride from mainland Western Australia to Rottnest Island, or ‘Rotto’ to the locals, and be met by outstretched walking trails, snorkelling in crystal-clear ocean and rich indigenous and colonial history. Part of that colonial history can be discovered at Wadjemup Lighthouse.
The original lighthouse was Western Australia’s first stone lighthouse, completed in 1849 and lit the way for ships to sail a safe passage into Fremantle. One replacement lighthouse was built on the same site 50 years later before it was replaced yet again in 1900 as a way of improving its communications and signals. Visitors to Rottnest Island can now climb Wadjemup Lighthouse to take in its all-encompassing views. Afterwards, embark on the 9.4-kilometre Rottnest Island Wadjemup Walk Trail to discover why Rottnest’s indigenous inhabitants deemed this spectacular island ‘place across the water’.
Take the Great Ocean Road to Great Otway National Park and find Cape Otway Lighthouse
The Great Otway National Park, or ‘the Otways’, provide natural beauty from incredible ocean views to dense rainforest, all encased by rolling hinterland. Victoria’s undisclosed natural beauty can be discovered along this famous coastline. Exciting experiences can be found here, from kayaking to scenic drives, bushwalking and world-class surfing. What draws the interest of travellers to this location is the promise of Australia’s oldest mainland lighthouse – Cape Otway Lighthouse. You can climb to the top of this glorious lighthouse, and be rewarded with its panoramic views. Keep your height above ground and head for the Otway Fly tree-top walk to experience the views from another perspective.
The light of Cape Otway Lighthouse has been running continuously since 1848 and guided tours can be taken of the area where you’ll learn about this part of Victoria’s colonial and Koori history. Great Otway National Park is also known for its ancient paleontological history and you can also learn about the dinosaurs that inhabited the region millions of years ago. Opt to stay in nearby towns of Lorne or Apollo Bay to extend your explorations while taking in the local seaside village life.
If you're travelling around Australia and checking out its sprawling coastlines, be sure to take a pit-stop in one of these lighthouses, or one you may uncover in your travels!