Experiential learning at its best
Cape Otway Lightstation offers primary & secondary students a range of active educational experiences tailored to meet the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) across all Strands and Domains.
The historic Lightstation, surrounding Great Otway National Park and wild Shipwreck Coast are an inspiring "classroom" for your students to engage with Koori Culture, Maritime History, Early Colonial and Social History, Immigration, Navigation, Communication Technologies, Geography and Environmental Conservation and Sustainability.
We offer the Taste of the Cape half day program, Experience the Cape full day program and a one to five day Lighthouse Keeper's Quest program. All three programs are linked to VELS outcomes and include the following themed learning experiences:
- → Cape Otway Environment Cape Otway Environment The Great Otway National Park includes marine sanctuaries, coastal dunes, heathland, open woodlands, dry and wet sclerophyll forests and rainforest. This rich and varied landscape provides many opportunities for students to explore the concepts of ecological sustainability and natural resource management. Lighthouse Keeper's Quest students will also visit the Cape Otway Ocean Lodge where they are able to experience ecological sustainability in practice.
- → Cape Otway Orientation Cape Otway Orientation Students will be empowered to navigate the Lightstation environment for themselves using map reading and other orientation skills. This activity enhances students understanding of the strategic importance of Bass Strait and the risks and responsibilities that were inherent in both immigration and trade during the era of sail. All Lighthouse Keeper's Quest students will have their turn at being leader of the group where they will be responsible for safely navigating the group to key points on the Lighthouse supply trail.
- → Communications at the Cape Communications at the CapeAn exploration of the history of communication in Australia as well as personal communication is brought to life at Cape Otway's Telegraph Station and flagstaff. Students experiment with alternative communications systems such as Morse code and semaphore flags and make comparisons with the modern communication rich environment.
- → Death and Disease Death and Disease Cape Otway cemetery is a perfect place for your students to reflect upon the hardships that were faced by those living and travelling in the times before modern medicine and modern communications. An examination of the headstones reveals the tragedies that all too often plagued our brave Lightstation families.
- → Immigration and Shipwrecks Immigration and Shipwrecks The wild shipwreck coast provides the stage for the drama and heartbreak of early immigration and shipwreck stories. The fate of Eric the Red and her crew are but one example of those that came to grief on this most dangerous of journeys.
- → Koori Culture at the Cape Koori Culture at the Cape The Gadabanud people spoke the King Parrot language and made Cape Otway their home for at least the last 40,000 years. Experience this ancient culture and their history as interpreted by Southern Otways Indigenous representatives today.
- → Lighthouses and Navigation Lighthouses and Navigation The oldest surviving Lighthouse in mainland Australia provides a tangible link to the terrors of Bass Strait, the most dangerous stretch of water in the world. Students are taken through the tower's technological phases, its workings, navigational role and significance in Australia's colonial history.
- → Living in the 1850s Living in the 1850s Students explore the original keepers quarters, telegraph station and associated buildings and are encouraged to use both primary and secondary historical sources and the oral storytelling of our guides to create a strong and lasting impression of life in the 1850s.
- → Remote Living at the Cape Remote Living at the Cape This remote and isolated Lightstation posed a unique set of social, economic and geographical problems. Through communication and teamwork your students will arrive at their own solutions to the challenges of remote living at the Cape.
- → Weather at Cape Otway Weather at Cape Otway It has always been the Lighthouse Keepers' role to make weather reports and still to this day an active Bureau of Meteorology weather station is in place at the Lightstation. Students are taken on a tour with weather station staff to investigate the significance of Cape Otway's wild weather.
- → Working Together Working Together Teamwork was an extremely important part of working at the Cape Otway Lightstation and we have devised a number of teambuilding exercises that are both fun and rewarding for your students.
- → World War 2 at the Cape World War 2 at the Cape Bass Strait saw a great deal of action during WWII. Your students will gain an increased understanding of the strategic role of Cape Otway in the war through a hands-on exploration of the Radar Bunker and sea mines.
Our programs are stand-alone and do not require any preparatory work from teachers or students. However the rich and varied history of the Otways coast means that there are many opportunities for pre-visit and post-visit activities we recommend the following resources:
- KIDZONE at the Cape - download an activity pack for primary school aged children (844KB PDF)
- Beacons by the Sea
- Parks Victoria
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority
- Bureau of Meteorology
- "Beacons of Hope: An early history of Cape Otway and King Island lighthouses" by Donald Walker (available from the Lightstation)
- "Shipwrecks along the Great Ocean Road" by Jack Loney (available from the Lightstation)
- "Otway and its Coast in Retrospect" by Jack Loney (available from the Lightstation)
KIDZONE @ The Cape
KIDZONE @ The Cape is a learning and activity program pack for primary school aged children. It contains puzzles, a picture to colour in and quizzes. It's available from the Lightstation or as a free download (844KB PDF).