Cape Liptrap Lighthouse provides an insight into Victoria's seafaring past and is a unique picnic spot for a day trip from Melbourne to the Bass Coast region. Located on a peninsula south of Leongatha and Venus Bay, it's about a two and a half-hour drive from Melbourne, or less if you are leaving from the south-eastern suburbs. Note that the last few kilometres of road out to the lighthouse car park are gravel, but the road was suitable for 2WD vehicles when I visited.
According to information boards on site, the first lighthouse on this site was built in 1913 of steel construction, which was replaced in 1951 with the concrete tower that stands on the cape today.
The walk to the lighthouse from the car park is only a few hundred metres along the clifftop. It is quite open and exposed, so you will need sun protection and a windproof jacket on blustery days.
The lighthouse itself stands at around 10 metres high but located on the clifftop, it is 93 metres above sea level with commanding views of the coastline. Its light can be seen for up 16 nautical miles across the ocean. This was the first unattended automatic lighthouse commissioned by the Commonwealth Government after it took over responsibility for maritime safety after Federation in 1901. It was built after several shipwrecks occurred along this section of coastline, including the Duke of Wellington (1853), Cremona (1853), Bertha (1870), Magnat (1900), and the Ada Burgess, which sank in 1934, curiously some 21 years after the lighthouse commenced operation.
From this elevated viewpoint, you see as far as Wilsons Promontory, located around 30 km across the ocean. Lowering your eyes, you can also follow the rock outcrop that heads stealthily out into the water, which has been the cause of all of these shipwrecks.
The rock outcrop that heads out into the water at Cape Liptrap
Unfortunately, you cannot enter the lighthouse or wander down to the water, but you can have a picnic or stop for a snack at the various picnic tables around the lighthouse. Remember to bring along some paperweights to stop your lunch blowing away, and bring a kite if you think you can hold onto it. For the calmest conditions, come for breakfast and watch the sunrise over Wilsons Promontory.
One of the picnic tables at Cape Liptrap Lighthouse