Want to experience Rotto’s most breathtaking views? Visit the Wadjemup Lighthouse for breath-taking panoramic views of the Island and surrounding sparkling waters of the vast Indian Ocean.
The 360-degree view from the highest point on Rottnest Island makes the Wadjemup Lighthouse tour a worthwhile experience. On a clear summer’s day you can easily make out the pine trees on Cottesloe Beach, while to the east the wide blue Indian Ocean stretches to the horizon.
The view – and plenty of local history are on offer during this recently launched tour, which gives the public access to Wadjemup Lighthouse for the first time in 110 years.
The tour begins with a bus ride from Thomson Bay and takes the scenic route towards Kingstown Barracks and past several of the island’s stunning bays. On arrival at the lighthouse visitors are given some history of the building. Its name recognises the island’s significance to Indigenous people and is believed to mean “place across the water.”
The lighthouse we see today is in fact the second to be built on the site. The first, built by Aboriginal prisoners and opened in 1851 was too short to be seen clearly from the water.
Some years later, convicts plus hired labor were brought back to start the job again and make it 39m tall, twice the height of the original. This second lighthouse was opened in 1896.
Not surprisingly the going was tough. A railway line had to be built to cart limestone from Nancy Cove. Foundations were set at 18ft (5.5m) below ground and the blocks were hand tapered and chiselled.
The lighthouse keeper’s house was also constructed, as well as another lighthouse at Bathurst Point – the need for extra guidance for ships at sea was only realised when the City of York smashed into the west coast in 1899 killing 12 crew members.
Once inside Wadjemup Lighthouse, you’ll see the old clock mechanism, which kept the light turning. It was a manual device, so the keeper had the relentless job of re-setting it every three hours.
Visitors are then invited to take the climb to the top. If you’re not too fit be warned – the spiral staircase is narrow and steep, but the view at the end is worth every gasp. There’s time to take in your glorious surroundings through glass windows before making the descent.
These days the lighthouse still plays an important role in the navigation of ships along the coast, although its operation is completely automated. If you’re visiting the lighthouse at night, the insider’s tip is to lie on the ground beneath it and watch the individual beams shoot across the sky. While the light appears as a single beam, it is in fact made up of eight different lights – and the view from the ground is quite something.
All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a reasonable level of fitness. People with heart conditions are recommended against taking part and children under 5. Grab an Essential Guide from the Visitor Centre on arrival for current tour prices or call Rottnest Island Visitor Centre on (08) 9372 9730.
DIY sunset and champagne tours: Get together with some friends and charter a bus for a whole new look of the island. Call (08) 9372 9749 for charter information.
Wadjemup Dreaming: The first Indigenous tour on Rottnest. Learn about the island’s cultural history as well as its past as an Aboriginal prison. Call (08) 9372 9732.
Summer Events: Rottnest stages a series of events during summer. Contact the Visitor Centre for more information on (08) 9372 9732.
Rottnest Island Wellness Centre: The centre will offer massage, beauty treatments, hairdressing, naturopath, health food and a pharmacy. Call (08) 9372 9732.
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