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Press Release: Lightstation offers locals free entry

Issued: 22 May 2007

IT’S official, every man, woman and child who lives in Colac Otway Shire is welcome to visit the iconic Cape Otway Lightstation heritage precinct for free.

From June 1 they can visit as often as they like as part of a new marketing initiative.

The scheme was launched on Tuesday, May 22, by Mayor Cllr Warren Riches who said it was the wild beauty and in particular the wildness of the sea that put Cape Otway on the map.

The lighthouse, the oldest on the mainland, was built in 1848 in response to Australia’s biggest peacetime shipping disaster when the Cataraqui founded on a reef off King Island with the loss of more than 350 lives.

Cllr Riches called on all residents of the Shire to make the most of local attractions such as the Lightstation, which he said was constantly being upgraded.

“We’re all ambassadors of the area and it doesn’t matter whether you live in the north of the shire, in Lavers Hill or Apollo Bay, the area has a hell of a lot to offer,” he added.

Cllr Riches described a visit to Cape Otway Lightstation as a “pivotal experience” for tourists travelling the Great Ocean Road.

Colac’s Shirley Anderson, who has strong family connections with the Lightstation, was one of the first locals to take up the new offer as part of the launch.

Shirley’s maternal grandfather George Keys served three terms as Cape Otway lightkeeper soon after Federation, and her paternal grandfather who was an early settler at Johanna was buried in the Lightstation’s cemetery in 1893.

“My mother Elsie Keys lived here and this is where she met my father, Perce (correct) Hampshire. He was a farmer at Johanna, and he used to ride in to pick up the mail,” said Shirley, who visited the Lightstation on Tuesday with fellow researchers from Colac and District Family History Group.

Shirley’s family, who lived on a staple diet of smoked fish in between three monthly visits from supply boats, enjoyed their tenure at Cape Otway.

“It wasn’t as hard here as it was at a lot of the remote and isolated lighthouses because they had a social life.
“The locals used to ride from Apollo Bay and Johanna, they had riding parties of men and women, just as a social gathering out here, and then they’d ride home again.”

For more details contact Cape Otway Lightstation manager Paul Thompson on 5237 9240.

For more history or information on the Lightstation see www.lightstation.com

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