By Jocelyn Watts
Tears welled as I imagined how the young soldiers must have felt when the light from Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse came into view as they returned from Gallipoli following the tragic World War I campaign.
Standing at the top of the 50-metre tall lighthouse on Australia’s most south-western point, tour guide Rob told us how the Leeuwin light, with a range of about 40km, was the last sight of Australia the soldiers saw as they sailed away from loved ones, not knowing what lay ahead of them or if they would return.
“The light was also the first thing the survivors saw and the smell of eucalyptus was the first thing they smelt as they came home,” Bob said. “You can imagine how welcoming that must have been.”
Albany, Western Australia’s oldest settlement, was the port where the first Australian troops left for Gallipoli.
The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was a must-see on our trip to Western Australia. Hubby and I arrived for the first tour of the day at 9am and at just $12 each, were lucky enough to have Bob’s undivided attention while sleepy heads had to share him on the remaining hourly tours of the day.
Bob, a walking encyclopeadia on the history of Cape Leeuwin, spoke of many ship wrecks and the Spanish, French and Dutch explorers who had touched Western Australian soil long before Captain James Cook created history on the east coast of our country.
Cape Leeuwin was named by Matthew Flinders in 1801, taking the name of the adjoining area which had been called Leeuwin’s Land by the Dutch navigators when Leeuwin (The Lioness) rounded the cape in 1622.
The cape is also where the Great Southern and Indian oceans merge. From the top of the lighthouse we could see the two swells with waves crashing in opposite directions over an outcrop of rocks just offshore.
Easily accessible via Augusta, the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse precinct includes a visitor centre, shop and cafe where we enjoyed a cappuccino overlooking Flinders Bay.Feature photo (top): Indian Ocean, left, Great Southern Ocean, right.