Cape Otway

Cape Otway is a cape and a bounded locality of the Colac Otway Shire in southern Victoria, Australia on the Great Ocean Road; much of the area is enclosed in the Great Otway National Park.

Cape Otway
Cape Otway Lighthouse south west pano
Cape Otway coast
Cape Otway is located in Colac Otway Shire
Cape Otway
Cape Otway
Coordinates38°51′0″S 143°31′0″E / 38.85000°S 143.51667°ECoordinates: 38°51′0″S 143°31′0″E / 38.85000°S 143.51667°E
Population15 (2016 census)[1]
LGA(s)Colac Otway Shire
State electorate(s)Polwarth
Federal Division(s)Corangamite
Localities around Cape Otway:
Glenaire Aire Valley Apollo Bay
Hordern Vale Cape Otway Apollo Bay
Southern Ocean Southern Ocean Bass Strait


Cape Otway was originally inhabited by the Gadubanud people; evidence of their campsites is contained in the middens throughout the region. The cape was discovered by Europeans when Lieutenant James Grant made the first west-to-east passage through Bass Strait in the Lady Nelson in December 1800. Grant named it Cape Albany Otway after Captain William Albany Otway.[2] This was later shortened to Cape Otway.

Cape Otway Lighthouse was built on the point of the cape in 1848. The lighthouse is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.[3]

A telegraph office opened in 1859. The post office opened on 1 September 1880 and closed in 1972.[4]

Eight ships were wrecked along the coast of Cape Otway:[5] The Marie (1851), Sacramento (1853), Schomberg (1855), Loch Ard (1878), Joseph H. Scammell (May 1891), Fiji (September 1891), and the Casino in 1932. The first American vessel sunk during World War II, the SS City of Rayville, was also sunk off the cape by a German mine. Following this, the Americans built a radar bunker on the cape in 1942; it is now open to the public.

Commercial fisheries

The hostile seas, where the Southern Ocean meets with Bass Strait, that surround Cape Otway are home to some of the world's most prized marine species, including crayfish and abalone. On calm days, as many as 20 abalone dive boats commonly operate along the shoreline beneath the lighthouse. Commercial crayfishers use baited pots or traps throughout the reef system, with white floats on the surface marking their locations.

See also


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Cape Otway (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 November 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Grant, James (1803). The narrative of a voyage of discovery, performed in His Majesty's vessel the Lady Nelson, of sixty tons burthen: with sliding keels, in the years 1800, 1801, and 1802, to New South Wales. Printed by C. Roworth for T. Egerton. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-7243-0036-5. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Cape Otway Lightstation (H1222)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  4. ^ Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 20 February 2013
  5. ^ Australia's Great Ocean Road:Shipwrecks
Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is a coastal town in southwestern Victoria, Australia. It is situated on the eastern side of Cape Otway, along the edge of the Barham River and on the Great Ocean Road, in the Colac Otway Shire. The town had a population of 1,598 at the 2016 census.It is now a tourist destination, though it is smaller and quieter than other nearby places such as Lorne. It is also host to the annual Apollo Bay Music Festival and the Great Ocean Sports Festival.

In winter to spring, southern right whales come to the area mainly to breed, to give birth their calves, and to raise them in the warmer, calm waters of South Australia during their migration season. Less frequently, humpback whales can be seen off the coast.

Barham River

The Barham River is a perennial river of the Corangamite catchment, located in The Otways region of the Australian state of Victoria.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

Cape Otway Lighthouse is a lighthouse on Cape Otway in southern Victoria, Australia. It is Victoria's oldest working lighthouse. During winter to spring, the lighthouse is a vantage point for land-based whale watching as migrating whales swim very close to shores.

The government reserved the tip of the cape as the site for a lighthouse. Access to the site was difficult; it was eventually reached overland and construction of the Cape Otway Lightstation began in 1846 from stone quarried at the Parker River.

The light was first lit in 1848 using a first order Fresnel lens; it was the second lighthouse completed on mainland Australia and it remains the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia. It was decommissioned in January 1994 after being the longest continuous operating light on the Australian mainland. At the keeper's cottages of Apollo Bay, accommodation is available in two double studios or in the head keeper's cottage that will sleep groups ranging from two to sixteen people. A telegraph station was added to the site when Tasmania was connected to the mainland by a submarine telegraph line from Cape Otway to Launceston in 1859.

Eight ships were wrecked along the coast of Cape Otway. These included the Marie (1851), Sacramento (1853), Schomberg (1855), Loch Ard (1878), Joseph H. Scammell (May 1891), Fiji (September 1891) and the Casino in 1932. The first American vessel sunk during World War II, the SS City of Rayville, was also sunk off the Cape by a German mine in 1940, which sank less than 24 hours after the British Ship S.S. Cambridge off Wilsons Promontory. The Americans built a radar bunker on the cape in 1942 which is now open to the public.

The lightstation was decommissioned in January 1994 after being the longest continuous operating light on the Australian mainland. It has been replaced by a low powered solar light in front of the original tower whose focal plane is at 73 m above sea level. Its light characteristic is three white flashes every 18 seconds.

Cape Wickham

Cape Wickham is the most northerly point of King Island, Tasmania, Australia. From here, it is 90 kilometres (56 mi) to Cape Otway on the Australian mainland. In the 19th century, ships coming from Europe would sometimes attempt to sail between Cape Wickham and Cape Otway to cut down on the required travelling time to Sydney, however the trip was dangerous and the price of failure high; usually shipwreck on the unforgiving King Island coast.

The Cape Wickham lighthouse situated on the cape had its 150th anniversary in 2011 The lighthouse was constructed in the 1860s when the island was still known as King's Island On 30 October 2015, Cape Wickham Links, and 18-hole golf course, opened to the public.

County of Polwarth

The County of Polwarth is one of the 37 counties of Victoria which are part of the cadastral divisions of Australia, used for land titles. The county is in the Western District of Victoria and includes the Cape Otway area, bounded by the Gellibrand River in the west and the Anglesea River and Barwon River in the east, in the north by a line from Winchelsea, through Colac to Larpent, and by Bass Strait to the south. The largest town is Colac. The county was proclaimed in 1849.

Dinosaur Cove

The Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia is a fossil-bearing site in the south-east of the continent where the Otway Ranges meet the sea to the west of Cape Otway, adjacent to Great Otway National Park (map). The inaccessible ocean-front cliffs include fossil-bearing strata that date back to about 106 million years ago and has provided discoveries important in the research of the natural history of dinosaurs in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere as a whole.

Disappearance of Frederick Valentich

Frederick Valentich was an Australian pilot who disappeared while on a 125-mile (235 km) training flight in a Cessna 182L light aircraft registered VH-DSJ

, over Bass Strait on the evening of Saturday, 21 October 1978. Described as a "flying saucer enthusiast", twenty-year-old Valentich informed Melbourne air traffic control he was being accompanied by an aircraft about 1,000 feet (300 m) above him and that his engine had begun running roughly, before finally reporting, "It's not an aircraft."There were belated reports of a UFO sighting in Australia on the night of the disappearance; however, the Associated Press reported that the Department of Transport was skeptical a UFO was behind Valentich's disappearance, and that some of their officials speculated that "Valentich became disorientated and saw his own lights reflected in the water, or lights from a nearby island, while flying upside down."

Electoral district of Polwarth

The electoral district of Polwarth is an electoral district of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It is located in south-west rural Victoria, west of Geelong, and covers the Colac and Corangamite local government areas (LGA), parts of the Moyne, Golden Plains and Surf Coast LGAs, and slivers of the Ararat and Greater Geelong LGAs, running along the Great Ocean Road taking in Anglesea, Cape Otway, Peterborough, Aireys Inlet, Lorne, Wye River, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, covering the inland towns of Winchelsea, Colac, Camperdown and Terang along the Princes Highway, and Inverleigh, Cressy, Lismore and Mortlake on the Hamilton Highway, and finally, includes the Otway Ranges and Lake Corangamite.The seat has existed since 1889 and has always been held by conservative parties. The Liberal Party has held the seat continuously since 1970, although the Nationals have provided strong challenges on occasions, such as at the 1999 election when election night figures suggested retired AFL Footballer Paul Couch would win the seat. Ultimately, however, Couch failed to finish ahead of the Labor Party candidate and the Liberal candidate, Terry Mulder, won after receiving preferences from Couch.The 2014 Victorian election saw the Liberal's Terry Mulder retain his seat, with a 3.2% swing to Labor. Mulder resigned from parliament on 3 September 2015. The subsequent by-election, held on 31 October, saw Richard Riordan elected as the new member.

Erskine River

The Erskine River is a river in southwestern Victoria, Australia. It arises in the Otway Ranges and enters Bass Strait to the east of Cape Otway through the town of Lorne. The Erskine River above the falls is known for its high diversity of native fish species and low occurrence of introduced species.


The Gadubanud (Katubanut) also known as the Pallidurgbarran, were an indigenous Australian people of the state of Victoria. Their territory encompassed the rainforest plateau and rugged coastline of Cape Otway. They are thought to have become extinct quickly following the onset of white colonization, and little is known of them. Some may have found refuge at the Wesleyan mission station at Birregurra and later the Framlingham mission station, and some people still trace their descent from such a remnant. Today, by the principle of succession the Gunditjmara are considered the traditional custodians of Gadubanud lands.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243-kilometre (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world's largest war memorial. Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the road is an important tourist attraction in the region.

The Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay and travels 244 kilometres westward to finish at Allansford near Warrnambool, the largest city along the road. The road is two lane (one in each direction), and is covered by a speed limit changing between 50 kilometres per hour and 100 kilometres per hour.

The road is considered a tourist attraction in the area, in which much of the road hugs coastline affectionately known as the Surf Coast between Torquay and Cape Otway and the Shipwreck Coast further west of Cape Otway, providing visibility of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. The road traverses rainforests, as well as beaches and cliffs composed of limestone and sandstone, which is susceptible to erosion. The road travels via Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, and Port Campbell, the latter being notable for its natural limestone and sandstone rock formations including Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, London Arch (formerly London Bridge) and The Twelve Apostles. At the stretch of the Great Ocean Road nearer to Geelong, the road meanders along the coast, with tall, almost-vertical cliffs on the other side of it. Road signs put up along the road warn motorists of possible rockfalls, which have occurred before.

The city of Geelong, close to Torquay, experiences great benefit from Australian and international visitors to the road; with Geelong Otway Tourism affirming it as an invaluable asset. The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) listed the road as the state's top tourism experience in its Victoria 101 survey, based on spots recommended by members and the public on what they would recommend to visitors. However, according to a survey performed by the Surf Coast Shire, residents have expressed concern that there are not enough safe crossings along the road.

Johanna, Victoria

Johanna is a small locality on the coast of Victoria, Australia located west of Cape Otway in the Colac Otway Shire. It is named after the schooner Joanna that was wrecked at the mouth of the Johanna River on 22 September 1843.

MS City of Rayville

The SS City of Rayville, also referred to as the MV and/or MS City of Rayville was a 5883-ton American steamship. She was built in 1920 by Oscar Daniels & Co. of Tampa, Florida. It was the first American vessel sunk by enemy action in World War II.


Modewarre is a locality in the Surf Coast Shire, Victoria, Australia. The town adjoins Lake Modewarre. In the 2016 census, Modewarre had a population of 276 people.Modewarre Primary School began as a local Anglican school in the 1850s, became a vested National School in 1859, and closed in 1971.A post office at Modewarre opened in 1859 and closed in 1967.The Modewarre Memorial Hall was erected in 1923 in memory of World War I. The Modewarre Avenue of Honour on Cape Otway Road was planted in 1918, and is the last surviving Avenue of Honour in the Surf Coast Shire. Tree number #33 was planted to honour Albert Jacka, Australia's first winner of the Victoria Cross and a Modewarre local.The town has a football club, Modewarre Football Club, which has existed since 1878. It currently plays in the Bellarine Football League, but formerly played in the Geelong & District Football League.

Parker River

The Parker River is a perennial river of the Corangamite catchment, located in The Otways region of the Australian state of Victoria.

Pomaderris aspera

Pomaderris aspera is a plant from eastern and southern Australia. Mostly seen south of the Barrington Tops in New South Wales to as far south as Wilsons Promontory and Cape Otway on the mainland. Also occurring in Tasmania. Scattered individuals are found in northern New South Wales to as far north as Bunya Mountains National Park in Queensland.

The species name refers to the rough feel of the leaves, asper in Latin. The common name is hazel pomaderris.

SS Selje (1920)

SS Selje was a Norwegian cargo vessel, on passage from Melbourne to the United Kingdom with a cargo of grain. She collided with the steamship Kaituna soon after 11pm on 29 March 1929. Kaituna hit her amidships and she sank twenty five minutes later, 25 miles SW of Cape Otway. Kaituna had her bow badly battered.

Shipwreck Coast

The Shipwreck Coast of Victoria, Australia stretches from to Cape Otway to Port Fairy, a distance of approximately 130 km. This coastline is accessible via the Great Ocean Road, and is home to the limestone formations called The Twelve Apostles.

Explorer Matthew Flinders said of the Shipwreck Coast, "I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline."

There are approximately 638 known shipwrecks along Victoria’s coast, although only around 240 of them have been discovered. The Historic Shipwreck Trail along the Shipwreck Coast and the Discovery Coast shows some of the sites where gales, human error and, in some cases,

foul play caused these vessels to be wrecked.Ships wrecked on the Shipwreck Coast include:

Thistle (1837)

Children (1839)

Unknown French whaler (1841)

Lydia (1843)

Socrates (1843)

Cataraqui (1845)

Enterprise (1850)

Essington (1852)

Freedom (1853)

SS Schomberg (built Liverpool, named after Charles Frederick Schomberg, sunk 1855)

John Scott (1858)

Golden Spring (1863)

Marie Gabrielle (1869)

Young Australian (1877)

Loch Ard (1878)

Napier (1878)

Alexandra (1882)

Yarra (1882)

Edinburgh Castle (1888)

Fiji (1891)

Joseph H. Scammell (1891)

Newfield (1892)

Freetrader (1894)

La Bella (1905)

Falls of Halladale (1908)

The Speculant (1911)

Antares (1914)

Casino (1932)

City of Rayville (1940)Over 50 shipwrecks are commemorated in a Historic Shipwreck Trail beginning at Port Fairy.

Shire of Colac Otway

The Shire of Colac Otway is a local government area in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, Australia, located in the south-western part of the state. It covers an area of 3,433 square kilometres (1,325 sq mi) and at the 2016 Census had a population of almost 21,000. It includes the towns of Apollo Bay, Beeac, Beech Forest, Birregurra, Colac, Cressy, Forrest, Johanna, Kennett River, Lavers Hill, Warrion and Wye River. It was formed in 1994 from the amalgamation of the City of Colac, Shire of Colac, Shire of Otway and part of the Shire of Heytesbury.The Shire is governed and administered by the Colac Otway Shire Council; its seat of local government and administrative centre is located at the council headquarters in Colac, it also has a service centre located in Apollo Bay. The Shire is named after the combination of the names for the former City of Colac, and Shires of Colac and Otway, of which the majority of the LGA was formed from. The name Colac is used for both the main urban settlement and the lake, Lake Colac, which are located in the north-centre of the LGA. Colac is also the most populous urban centre in the LGA with a population of almost 12,000. The name Otways is used for the major geographical features located in the south of the LGA, which are The Otways and Cape Otway.

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