We had a slow start to the day, taking it easy after 2 days of climbing in and out of caves, heading around to Cape Leeuwin around 1100. The weather was warm, but it was very windy, blowing strongly from the west. It was a short drive from the camp, around the coast line of low scrub and bald rock, where its hard to imagine any tree could ever survive. The lighthouse is on a long promontory looking due south to the convergence of the Indian and Southern oceans. Roughly this time last year, Pete and I were at the other end of the continent, looking from Cape York towards Papua New Guinea!
The sea here was wild and topped with white caps on the western side of the Cape, but slightly more sheltered on the East side, with smooth, clear turquoise water where there was sand. However, there was little sand, with great hunks of reddish granite rock pocking through the surface of the ocean for miles out to sea. Sailing around this cape would have to be done with a great deal of sea room, to avoid the wicked rocks.
After parking, we entered the lighthouse precinct, which consisted of several keepers cottages, and store rooms as well as the impressive lighthouse. Unusually for some of the lighthouses we saw last year, this one was built of local stone, quarried from the granite, and commenced flashing in 1857. Looking out at the treacherous coastline, you can see why it was so important to have a warning light on this busy shipping channel, though its hard to believe that the eastern colony, which was in charge at the time, refused to fund the building!
Near the lighthouse precinct are the remains of the water wheel, which brought fresh water from a spring near the tide line, to provide water first for the building mortar, then later for the cottages. The wheel itself is still there, though calcified, so not moving, and the spring is running into the sea.
Around the precinct there were lots of beautiful wild flowers. WA is of course renowned for its diversity of endemic flora, we had no idea what most of the flowers were but they were so pretty we had to photograph them. The low scrub was tortured by the wind, blown into the shape of the land it covered, by the very strong prevailing winds.
After a good walk around the lighthouse and the waterwheel, we had a light lunch in the cafe, then headed back to camp. A little quiet time, was followed by walking on the beach. Pete and I had a swim in the beautiful clear pool formed by some barrier rocks, and mum and dad walked out to the end of the headland. We collected some wood to have a fire in the camp fire pit in the evening.
We couldnt light the fire until 1800, but as soon as the minute hand passed the 12, Pete got his one match and succeeded in getting the fire going straight away. We had our sundowners around the fire, and in fact spent the evening revelling in wood smoke, as we had dinner and port in front of the flames.