Green Cape - Safe Haven
Rain lashes the tiny windows built deep in the walls of Green Cape lighthouse. This historic landmark has kept ships safe for over 130 years off the infamously treacherous shores of Disaster Bay near Eden on the Far South Coast of NSW.
There is something incongruous about these dazzling old buildings standing bravely on the cliffs of Green Cape. The pretty blue and white painted walls of the newly renovated tower and two light-keepers’ cottages are surrounded by cute picket fences that seem to dare the wind to fling them over the edge into the churning ocean.
In 1873, after many ships had met their end on these rocky reefs, the need for a lighthouse was recognised. From day one, however, the success of the project was ill fated. Green Cape’s soft clay soil meant the only type of lighthouse possible was a solid concrete one; not only an expensive endeavour, but also the biggest concrete structure in NSW at that time, and the first concrete lighthouse in Australia.
Builder Albert Aspinall spent the first seven months of 1881 assembling a wooden railway line for a horse-drawn trolley to haul building materials to the remote site. Aspinall then discovered the clay soil was six meters deep, requiring him to dig an exhausting nine-metre foundation! Two years later, poor Albert ran out of the money and passion needed to fulfil the job. It’s rumoured he took his own life, leaving his creditors to finish the lighthouse in 1883 – 10 years after it’s initial approval.
Today, as intermittent sun drenches the tower and cottages, it’s difficult to imagine the hardships these tenacious pioneers faced. Their legacy is in the seemingly immutable essence of these beautiful buildings.
A love of history isn’t the only motivation for a visit to Green Cape. Set in the pristine coastal stretches of Ben Boyd National Park, it’s a bushwalker’s paradise. The world-class Light to Light Walk hugs the coastline between heritage Boyd’s Tower and Green Cape Lighthouse and features some of the most remarkable and diverse landscape in coastal NSW.
Wildlife thrives at Green Cape too, including resident populations of fur seals, dolphins, mutton-birds, albatross, and sea eagles. Bandicoots, wombats and lyrebirds can also be spotted. And for superb whale watching, the Green Cape lookout is an easy stroll from the lighthouse.
Sitting proudly on the edge of the steep cliffs, the two delightful cottages – over a century old and now restored to their original charm – overlook the staggering ocean views. Both cottages sleep up to six people and offer 3.5-star heritage accommodation with open fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens, dining and lounge rooms.
Green Cape is the southernmost lighthouse in New South Wales, and at 29 metres is the second tallest. But, when you’re snuggling in front of the open fireplace with the stars thick in the night sky, or sipping wine on your cottage veranda while whales cruise the oceans of Australia’s Coastal Wilderness, statistics seem unimportant.
For tours or accommodation contact National Parks And Wildlife Service.