Paul Sofilas Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Augusta

It’s International Lighthouse Day on Saturday August 18th, so to celebrate, get a close-up of two of the region’s stunning historical maritime buildings.

With unforgettable views, a history of shipwrecks, and a chance to spot migrating whales, you won’t regret the experience! Janine Pittaway spoke to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse site manager, Paul Sofilas in the lead-up to this special day.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Photo: Scott Slawinski
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Augusta

The life of the lighthouse keeper of old could be a tough and lonely existence. The first lighthouse was built by the ancient Egyptians in 290BC, and used a giant mirror to magnify light from a constantly burning fire to guide ships to the entrance to Alexandria harbour.

Fast-forward to the 17th century when maritime trade boomed and so did lighthouse construction. Thousands were built around the world. There are an estimated 50,000 lighthouses in the world today.

Two of those remaining lighthouses are now much-loved attractions in the Margaret River Region – Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.

Situated at the most south-westerly point of Australia, Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, built in 1895, is the tallest on mainland Australia and is at the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Paul Sofilas is the site manager at Cape Leeuwin, and lives and works at the lighthouse site. He’s a full bottle on the history of the building, the day to day operations, and the people who visit daily from around the world.

Paul Sofilas Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Augusta
Paul Sofilas, Site Manager at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Paul’s top reasons for visiting Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

  • It’s the tallest mainland lighthouse in Australia with excellent views 360 degrees from the balcony, or even from the ground decking.
  • It is the south west corner of the Australian continent, where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, and Australia’s south coast meets Australia’s west coast.
  • It is still operational with many aspects of the infrastructure being original – lenses are original from 1895, and the clockwork mechanism still in place.
  • You can experience many types of weather systems – good weather and lighthouse weather – never bad weather! So you can have a real experience of nature, breathe ever so fresh air, and then be sitting cosily in the café enjoying great coffee and food, while watching the world outside through the glass walled café verandah.
  • In winter and spring you can catch migrating humpback whales in either ocean, and calving southern right whales in nearby Flinders Bay.
  • We are open every day except Christmas Day.
  • With many great caves in the area, you can go down below for that experience, then climb above at the lighthouse – ‘an experience on all levels!’
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

International Lighthouse Day Celebrations

To mark International Lighthouse Day on August 18th, visitors can get involved with two-way radio operators who will be transmitting to all parts of the globe over the weekend. Local spinners and weavers will be displaying their skills and selling their creations. Augusta Marine Rescue will also have boats on display and Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse will have a fire truck that the kids can climb on and spray water from a hose.

Supporting Local Volunteers

Ground entry fees for both lighthouses on the 18th of August will be donated to local community organisations; the Dunsborough Fire Brigade and Augusta Volunteer Marine & Rescue Group.

Tower tour fees will apply as per normal on the day.

Field Notes Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse