On the southern tip of Victoria’s coast, along the Great Ocean Road, Cape Otway Lighthouse has been steeped in drama since 1843. As Mainland Australia’s oldest remaining lighthouse, the beacon aided thousands of ships in safely navigating the cape—though despite the dedicated work of its light keepers, eight large ships were still lost on the rocks on the windy, turbulent point. In World War II, German submarines sank an American ship while patrolling just off the coast, and radar facilities erected on shore can still be visited today. Now, even though the light has been decommissioned, Cape Otway Lighthouse is still a dramatic destination to visit, as the sweeping view of the southern coast is one of Victoria’s best. From winter through spring, you can stand on the historic lighthouse point and feel the breeze on your face, while watching the spouts of migrating whales as they splash and leap from the sea. Or, during any time of the year, learn the marvels of engineering that went into constructing the lighthouse, or read the stories of the lightkeepers’ families who called Cape Otway home.
On the road leading in towards Cape Otway Lighthouse, scan the trees for the wild koalas crawling around in the branches. There’s a small café that’s located on site, and with advance reservations, you can even spend a night in the lightkeeper’s cottage once all the visitors have gone home.