Cape Otway Lightstation Australia's Most Important Lighthouse Awesome Views, Amazing History

Our Indigenous guides wish you “Ngatanwarr” – welcome to Gadubanud Country.

Cape Otway is centrally situated in Gadubanud country, within which there are five celebrated Gundidjs’ (Clans) which are part of the Gundidjmara Language group of south-west Victoria. The Cape Otway area with its abundance of resources and tradition makes it an area of high Cultural and archaeological significance.

The Cultural Sites within the Lightstation precinct, whilst protected provide a focus for knowledge and understanding of a rich, ancient and continuing culture.

Opened in September 2010 and hand created mainly by local Indigenous people in consultation with elders and Parks Victoria, the area includes a Meeting Hut, a Keeping Place, a Billabong Sculpture and a protected walk.

The Meeting Hut, is a contemporary and artistic creation of a traditional Talking hut or Wuurn, with rock base and wooden upper section. Larger than the traditional permanent dwellings it is an example of some designed for larger gatherings in cooler months.

The guides are happy to share stories and certain traditions such as diet which was rich in seafood including abalone, crayfish, mussels, periwinkles, seasonal fish and eel, mutton birds and seal. Children are encouraged to spend time at the Hut with activities.

The Lightstation precinct is built on an area permanently inhabited by Aboriginal people but also a traditional seasonal fishing route which is served by freshwater springs. Billabongs were cleaned continuously to maintain and hold this clean water.

Various Archaeological Survey reports have documented various toolmaking sites, midden sites and camp sites in abundance. The Middens typically display fragments of turban shells, abalone, elephant fish, chiton, beaked mussel and limpets. Eels and ducks were also eaten. New Zealand spinach and other herbs are abundant as well as many tubers and berries.

Quotes

It is a sensational place to stay and a vital piece of Australia’s heritage.

Michael
Quotes

Exhilarating experience, lovely views, great to visit inside the lighthouse.

Jennifer

Koori History

In 1997 the Victorian Archaeological Survey investigation reported numerous midden and tool-making sites at Cape Otway.

Middens on Cape Otway reveal the varied diet of the Gadubanud. Most middens contain fragments of turban shells, abalone, periwinkle, elephant fish, chiton, beaked mussel and limpets. Eels and ducks were also eaten.

New Zealand spinach was a common vegetable and many tubers and berries were available. Bark canoes were used in the rivers, lakes, estuaries and along the coast. Early ship’s logs reported Indigenous people sailing close to shore in this region. (Pascoe & Harwood 1997)

Today the Gundidjmara people are the traditional custodians of Gadubanud lands.

Local Gadubanud and other Indigenous people retain a strong connection to these places. Some historical records indicate the Gadubanud were considered to be ‘wild’ by the Kirrae Wurrung to the west and the Wathaurong to the north-east, although it is believed they had a connection with the Gulidjan to the north.

It is known that the Gadubanud traded spear wood for Mt William green stone when tribes from a wide area of Victoria met for traditional ceremonies at Mt Noorat, Mt Napier and Gariwerd. Many sites and spiritual links remain today.

Many Indigenous people were killed by early European explorers and settlers who were claiming and clearing land for pasture and infrastructure in the 19th century. Indigenous women were raped and a massacre took place at Blanket Bay near the Lightstation. (Pers. Comm., Harradine 2000)