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Cape Otway Lightstation shortlisted for 2020 Victorian Community History Awards

Cape Otway Lightstation shortlisted for 2020 Victorian Community History Awards

Cape Otway Lightstation has been shortlisted for the 2020 Victorian Community History Awards!

The awards celebrate and recognise contributions made by Victorians who are preserving the state’s rich and diverse history and we are delighted that our WWII Memories community history project has been included in this years shortlist.

Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson announced the 48 projects and publications that made the shortlist for this year’s Victorian Premier’s History Award and Victorian Community History Awards. From the shortlist, the 2020 Victorian Premier’s History Award recipient and nine Victorian Community History category winners will be chosen. 

Final award winners will be announced online in October as part of History Month. 

WW2 RADAR EXHIBIT

Our community history project ‘WWII Memories’  is an audio visual interpretation project that marries Corten steel silhouettes with voices of Victorian WWII Radar veterans as they recall their secret war; unknown to contemporary audiences.
Housed within the WWII Radar Station at Cape Otway Lightstation, the project is a collaboration between the Lightstation & RAAFA Radar Veterans Association and features an audio panel with excerpts from WWII Veterans George Runting and Beryl Mainon as they describe their experience of their secret war.

 

WW2 RADAR EXHIBIT

The history of WWII RAAF Radar has been a relatively unknown “secret story” due to its top-secret WWII status, which was effectively continued post-WWII by RAAF Radar Veterans who had committed to its secrecy status. This has resulted in very little formal historical recording of WWII RAAF Radar.

VRAAFRA WWII Veteran Members have been committed to creating, recording and preserving for future generations, an historical understanding of WWII RAAF Radar and its critical role in defending Australia and winning the war in the South West Pacific. The relatively few surviving WWII Radar Veterans, together with other VRAAFRA Members continue that commitment today and have donated to this Tourism Great Ocean Road project at Cape Otway Lightstation.

The significance of this project can be seen in the fact that outside of the Australian War Memorial’s static display of WWII RAAF Ground Radar equipment in Canberra, the Cape Otway Interpretive Exhibition, based at the purpose built and still standing 13RS Radar Operations Building, is the only other exhibition recording WWII RAAF Radar history. The inclusion of WWII veterans’ audio recollections of Radar Station activities is also significant in providing a personal balance to that secret historical WWII RAAF Radar Story.

 Beryl Mainon joined the WAAF in 1942 at the age of 17 – she lied about her age. Upon qualifying as a Radar Operator, Beryl served on several Radar Stations in Victoria and New South Wales until the end of the war in 1945.  

George Runting joined the RAAF in 1943, at the age of 18 and qualified as a Radar Operator. He then served at 13 RS Cape Otway. George served overseas in the Pacific campaign as part of a mobile radar unit until the end of the war in 1945.

Launch of WW11 Radar Station Interpretative Exhibit at Cape Otway Lightstation

Launch of WW11 Radar Station Interpretative Exhibit at Cape Otway Lightstation

We are delighted to announce that we have just added an exciting new exhibit to the Cape Otway Lightstation Heritage Precinct! 
WW2 RADAR EXHIBIT

Delve deep into WW2 history as we uncover the story of a top secret mission at Cape Otway. An audio visual interpretation project that marries Corten steel silhouettes, with voices of Victorian WWII Radar veterans as they recall their secret war; unknown to contemporary audiences.

The original wireless equipment, on loan from the Apollo Bay Museum has been returned to the bunker and displayed as part of the exhibit. 

Housed within the WWII Radar Station at Cape Otway Lightstation.  The project is a collaboration between the Lightstation & RAAFA Radar Veterans Association.

 

WW2 RADAR EXHIBIT

The history of WWII RAAF Radar has been a relatively unknown “secret story” due to its top-secret WWII status, which was effectively continued post-WWII by RAAF Radar Veterans who had committed to its secrecy status. This has resulted in very little formal historical recording of WWII RAAF Radar.

VRAAFRA WWII Veteran Members have been committed to creating, recording and preserving for future generations, an historical understanding of WWII RAAF Radar and its critical role in defending Australia and winning the war in the South West Pacific. The relatively few surviving WWII Radar Veterans, together with other VRAAFRA Members continue that commitment today and have donated to this Tourism Great Ocean Road project at Cape Otway Lightstation.

The significance of this project can be seen in the fact that outside of the Australian War Memorial’s static display of WWII RAAF Ground Radar equipment in Canberra, the Cape Otway Interpretive Exhibition, based at the purpose built and still standing 13RS Radar Operations Building, is the only other exhibition recording WWII RAAF Radar history.
The inclusion of WWII veterans’ audio recollections of Radar Station activities is also significant in providing a personal balance to that secret historical WWII RAAF Radar Story.

 

WW2 RADAR BUNKER

Contributing Donors

Victorian RAAF Radar Association

The Bowker Family/ Tourism Great Ocean Road

Ian McKellar

Margaret Bennett

Apollo Bay Museum- Original Wireless equipment

 

Save Our Lighthouse Campaign

Save Our Lighthouse Campaign

Following our recent announcement and news in the media that the Cape Otway may be forced to close permanently after March 2021 we have been overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback we have received from all who love the Lighthouse as we do. Many of you have asked how you might help or get involved with our campaign to save our lighthouse so we have prepared a few tips on things you can do to help us get our message heard.

 

How Can I Help?

 
1) Sign Our Petition!  Sign the e-petition to Victoria’s legislative council calling on the Victorian Government to grant a long-term lease to Tourism Great Ocean Road so it can continue operating beyond March, 2021.   
Sign our E-Petition here 

2) Share The News!  Share this information and link to the e-petition through your networks/email databases. Include a brief description of how this will impact you/your business as well as the Cape Otway Lightstation itself.

3) Raise Awareness!  Like the Cape Otway Lighthouse Facebook page and share our campaign posts as often as you can. Share what you love about the Cape Otway Lightstation on your Social media pages. Use the following hashtags: #capeotwaylighthouse #saveourlighthouse #loveyourlighthouse #greatoceanroad and tag us on Cape Otway Lighthouse.

4) Write a letter!  to the decision-makers – Victorian Government minister Lily D’Ambrosio, copying in Premier Daniel Andrews, Martin Pakula and Jill Hennessy and local MP Richard Riordan for Polwarth.

Victorian Government minister Lily D’Ambrosio   lily.dambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au
Premier, The Hon. Daniel Andrews,  daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister for the Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions: COVID-19, Minister for Industry Support and Recovery       martin.pakula@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Jill Hennessy, Attorney-General, Attorney-General@justice.vic.gov.au
MP Richard Riordan for Polwarth richard.riordan@parliament.vic.gov.au

 

Campaign overview 

Cape Otway Lightstation may be forced into closure due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The iconic tourist attraction, situated on the Great Ocean Road, attracts over 180,000 visitors annually.

The Cape Otway Lightstation has been leased and managed by local small business, Tourism Great Ocean Road, since 1997. The current lease expires 30 June 2022. Tourism Great Ocean Road is seeking a 10-year lease extension in order to borrow money to see out the COVID-19 downturn. However, the Victorian Government will not grant a lease extension due to current native title negotiations, which may take many years to resolve. Tourism Great Ocean Road does not oppose the native title claim. However, this complex issue requires the cooperation of multiple Victorian Government departments to resolve and keep the Cape Otway Lightstation open.

The looming closure of the attraction would see the loss of cultural and historical knowledge passed on to current and future generations. Potentially over 20 permanent skilled professionals, up to 40 employed during the peak season, could lose their jobs. The closure would mean a loss of an iconic tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road, which may in turn lead to a loss of income for other regional businesses as well as dereliction of the iconic heritage building through lack of maintenance.

 

 

 

Possible Closure of Cape Otway Lightstation

Possible Closure of Cape Otway Lightstation

We are deeply saddened to announce that beyond March 2021, Cape Otway Lightstation may be forced to close permanently with the loss of jobs for over 20 local staff in a devastating outcome for the local community.

After months of failed negotiations, the State Government has refused to enter into discussions to negotiate a viable, long-term lease with the current owners and has made it known that it is prepared to let the Lightstation close rather than allow a lease extension for a highly successful, viable, regional Victorian business in the midst of this ongoing crisis.

Tourism recovery along the Great Ocean Road is predicted to take a number of years and the time needed for our business to recover will exceed our current lease period. Whilst we are keen to continue to invest in the site and to employ staff we are unable to secure loans to aid in recovery due to this short lease period. Unfortunately with the expected downturn in visitation numbers, the Cape Otway Lightstation is unlikely to be viable for some time, as a significant number of visitors are international and interstate travellers. Modelling around the predicted visitation post Job Keeper shows the Lighthouse is at risk of trading insolvent so may be forced to close unless our lease is extended. 

The 26 permanent staff have been told of the situation and are obviously very distressed by the news.  After 24 years of maintaining, improving and providing fantastic visitor experiences we regret that we are being forced into this shutdown. We worry about the fate of the Lighthouse itself if it were to be closed, its associated heritage buildings and collections and the high level of investment, maintenance and care they require to maintain their current condition.

We would like to offer assurances to all of our guests, visitors and our local community that we will stay open for as long as we are possibly able to and that our staff will continue to fight against this closure. We ask for your support and we ask you to come visit this hugely significant heritage site and witness the hard work, skill and sheer determination of our amazing staff, our keepers of history this summer as we bring to life the history of Cape Otway Lighthouse, our Beacon of Hope.

Cape Otway Management Team.

A Life of Service, Ford Exhibition Opening

A Life of Service, Ford Exhibition Opening

‘A story of immigration, survival and service spanning three decades’

Learn about our longest serving Lightkeeper Henry Ford, his wife Mary Ann Ford and their time at the remote and isolated Cape Otway Lightstation from 1848 to 1878

An exhibition of objects, kindly on loan from descendants of the Ford family will go on display at the Lightstation giving visitors the opportunity to connect to the story of this remarkable couple.

From a treasured plait of hair in a locket to a barometer, each item provides an insight into Henry & Mary Ann’s personal relationship & life together at Cape Otway.

Keepers of History

Descendents of Head Lightkeeper Henry Ford and his wife Mary Ann visited Cape Otway to deliver the objects which are due to go on display at the Lightstation. Head guide Alex led a tour of the grounds whilst the group exchanged stories of the Ford’s and the life they led whilst serving at Cape Otway   

Whale sightings this season!

Whale sightings this season!

Victorian waters are home to a stunning diversity of marine mammals including whales, dolphins and seals, and Cape Otway is a perfect vantage point for whale watching between May and October.

At the Lightstation we celebrate these amazing creatures year-round in our Whale Interpretive Area.

Annually, 25 species of whales migrate past the Lightstation including Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Killer Whales (Orcas).

Many breed and socialise here before heading off to feed in sub-Antarctic waters. Southern Right Whales give birth to young in sheltered bays along the south-west coast of Victoria.

Apart from interpretive information to help you learn more about whales and how we can protect them, we have some large scale works of art celebrating these amazing mammals.

There is a geoglyph sculpture which is a full-scale Southern Right male adult, formed within the natural landscape, created with local limestone, and sandstone, featuring a weathered steel fluke.

We also have a baby Southern Right Whale carved from a cypress tree.

Visit the Lightstation for a chance to see these magnificent whales in their natural habitat and learn how to distinguish them from the their blow (cloud of mist of spray formed when whales exhale as they surface); learn to recognise their shape and behaviour.


Keep abreast of the latest sightings by visiting the Great Ocean Road website.