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.