On this day …… 29th January 1932

The Lady Loch has set of on her quarterly round of the Victorian and Tasmanian lighthouses. To tho children living in these Isolated areas she is known as the Santa Claus ship. At this time of the year there is something more than household stores on hoard. Books, dolls, beads, almonds and raisins, and a variety of toys form part of the cargo. More than 80 children will participate in the pleasure of receiving these gifts, which have been Bent from Victoria, so that, in their Isolation, they will not be cheated of the pleasure of receiving some thing from Santa Claus. Through the enthusiasm of Miss Alice, Orrong Road, Elsternwick, a consignment of good has been forwarded as Christmas gifts to the lighthouse children for the last eight years. This time parcels of fancy work have been included,’ so that the mothers will not feel neglected. Eager eyes will scan tho horizon for a first glimpse of the Santa Claus ship long before the Lady Loch ls due. It will not be long before the children at Cape Otway and Gabo Island will be opening their, parcels, but the bairns in the lonely spots along the Tasmanian coast will still have to bide a week.

On this day …… 27th January 1868


The Lion, from Mauritius, bound for Sydney, was passing. She has experienced rough weather and has lost her fore main top gallant and mizen top masts.

On this day …… 26th January 1935



CAUGHT in the throes of a serious epidemic of whooping cough, six children in the little community at Cape Otway Lighthouse were given relief by a doctor from Colac, who travelled 80 miles over rugged country in response to an urgent call. The children (three boys and three girls, whose ages range from two to 14 years) were attended by their parents for about a week, but when it was realised that the epidemic was spreading the Commonwealth Lighthouse Department in Melbourne was advised. One little girl is still seriously ill. Shortly before noon Mr. A. J. Copaul (headkeeper) communicated with Melbourne asking for medical assistance. The Lighthouse Department, after ascertaining that the epidemic was too serious to he handled by the district nurse at Apollo Bay a few miles away, advised the keeper, to telephone Colac for Dr. K. .Day. Dr. Day was on leave, but Dr. Brown readily agreed to go to the aid of the children. Fifteen minutes after receiving word of the trouble. Dr. Brown left by car for Hordern Vale, 70 miles distant. Travelling at 60 miles an hour, he arrived there at 3p.m., and was met by keepers from the lighthouse. The last 10 miles to the lighthouse were made on a buckboard conveyance, drawn by a horse, over burning sandhills. At 5 p.m. Dr. Brown was at the lighthouse and attending the children. He prescribed medicine and pronounced them all out of danger, although he said that little Audrey Rixon (aged -six years) was in a serious condition, and must be kept in bed until the crisis had passed. Speaking over the long-distance telephone Mr. Copaul said the epidemic started about a week ago, when his little son, Maurice, aged two years, became ill. The epidemic spread until six out of the 13 children at the lighthouse were suffering. They were flushed and feverish, he said, and unable to sleep at night. Never has there been such a unique hospital as that at Cape Otway. There are four lightkeepers with their wives and 13 children on the headland, and together they make a self contained community. Far from any educational centre the children have a school of their own the only lighthouse school in Australia. It is maintained by the Education Department, which provides a teacher. In winter the lighthouse can be approached only by bullock transport over 10 miles, of boggy country. The children were all on holiday when the epidemic swept the lighthouse.

On this day …… 21st January 1938

Cape Otway First

Radio beacons to guide shipping will be installed at selected points along the Australian coast as rapidly as finances permit. This assurance was given yesterday by the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator Allan MacDonald) when commenting on the report of the assessors at the Court of Marine Inquiry which investigated the loss of the Saros, near Cape Everard, on December 25. The assessors said that they wished to direct attention to the great lack of wireless direction finding stations on the coasts of Australia. Senator MacDonald said that he assumed that the assessors had in mind radio beacons similar to the type which the Commerce Department and the Lighthouse Advisory Committee had for some time proposed to instal at vital points on the Australian coast. A radio beacon is at present being built for installation at Cape Otway, and is expected to be in operation in a few months. Consideration was being given, Senator MacDonald said, to further installations. This work would be undertaken as quickly as finances and other lighthouse activities would permit.

On this day …… 20th January 1944

Almost half of the State under fire. Victoria has had a fire experience which was even more disastrous than the holocaust which swept the State in 1939, when human life and homes were destroyed. The fire originated on the same day as that which occurred in South Australia at One Tree Hill, but in Victoria there were many out breaks in different parts of the State, and the losses are colossal. Nineteen deaths of fire fighters have been reported, but the police do not think this covers the full death roll. 70 people are in hospital, suffering grievously from burns. Over the tremendous area laid waste the incomplete records show that over 700 homes were completely destroyed, with many others damaged. Thousands of sheep, cattle and horses passed out, it being said that in the Western district of Victoria alone, 250,000 sheep were destroyed. Those beasts’ which escaped are now roaming aimlesly through the fire waste, bereft of any fed. Damage to property is expected to exceed £1,000,000. In a survey of Victoria’s bushfires, the destruction has been set down. Hamilton and district, 50 homes, the railway coal shed, sawmills, and gun club pavilion. Tarringon, 26 homes. Dunkeld, 36 homes, a total of 112 houses, countless wool sheds, tens of thousands of stock and many hundred miles of fencing. In the country above Cape Otway, stock losses will be 250,000 sheep including some of the finest studs and the most highly prized breeding sheep in the world, 4000 beef and dairy cattle, 1000 swine, 2000 poultry, and 400 horse. Crop’s of flax and cereals, wool, farm equipment and hundreds of miles of fencing. Ninety-eight per cent of the properties were not insured. The Federal Government has made a grant of £200,000 for relief, and the State Parliamentary Committee is investigating relief measures.

On this day …… 16th January 1869


The ship Rachel, from Mauritius past Cape Otway on her way to Sydney on this day in 1869.

On this day …… 15th January 1930

The Overdue C. B. Pedersen Ship was identified as a four-masted barque which was beating up the Victorian coast for a week was disclosed on this day, when she signalled to the Cape Otway lighthouse. This is the identification signal of the Swedish barque C. B. Pedersen, now 120 days out from Baltic ports with a full timber cargo for Melbourne.

On this day …… 14th January 1931

The first lighthouse built in Australia was at Outer South Head, Sydney, in 1817. Victoria’s first, at Cape Otway, did not come till 31 years later (but today is the oldest one in main land Australia), but Tasmania had one in 1833. Nowadays, Australia’s 12,000 miles of coastline have close on 200 lights for the guidance of ships, though not all have permanent keepers. Many lighthouses are far above the sea. The base of the Tasman Island Lighthouse, outside Hobart, is 88 feet above sea-level, and its light 907 feet. The most powerful of lights are at Cape Byron, New South Wales, and at Cape Naturalist, on the north coast of Tasmania. Each of a million candle power, they are seen on clear nights at 30 miles.

On this day …… 11th January 1930

On this day in 1930, the Cape Otway Lighthouse appeared in the Weekly Times. As you can see, some things never change.

On This Day – January 11, 1936

To assist with shipping in Bass Strait the Commonwealth Government has decided to install a marine wireless beacon at the lighthouse at Cape Otway. The beacon will incorporate a wireless fog signal. Tenders for the equipment were invited today, and will close on January 11.

On this day …… 11th January 1930

On this day in 1930, the Cape Otway Lighthouse appeared in the Weekly Times Newspaper. As you can see, some things never change.

On this day …… 10th January 1864

An incident has just come to light which gives an irresistibly comic air to a tale of sad disaster. It was on Saturday, the 12th of December 1863, the day before the memorable gale and flood set in, that the ship Brandon, Captain Jolly, left Port Phillip Heads, bound for Akyab. On the following day according to a paragraph in The Argus newspaper – when at Cape Otway lighthouse, she shipped a tremendous sea, which swept five of the seamen overboard. The captain claiming, the state of the weather, assistance was impossible, and the poor men were drowned. The ship also sustained damage, and during the gale the fore and main topsail yards were sprung, and all three topsails blown clean out of the bolt-ropes. Under these circumstances, and especially because the high price of wages had caused the ship to sail somewhat short-handed, so that it would be dangerous to go to sea without filling the dead men’s places, the captain returned to Melbourne. The loss of the men was duly reported to Mr. J. J. Shillinglaw, the Government shipping-master, who also received the effects and money belonging to the defunct, and communicated with their friends in Victoria. Fresh seamen were employed, and, after duly repairing, the vessel proceeded again to sea on this day in 1864. As the ship left Port Phillip Bay, there was a sudden and remarkable resurrection of the dead men, who leisurely walked out of the hold and proceeded to work. This strange affair is thus explained. Sailors are getting high wages just now, and hence masters of vessels take as few as possible. On board the Brandon this was felt by the men as a great hardship, the work falling on the lesser number, and hence a general agreement was made to get the missing men into hiding during the gale, so that the ship should head back to Melbourne, and fresh hands be engaged. How the captain will act at Akyab we shall probably never know, but the story is worth telling, for the sake of preventing a possible recurrence of the trick.