History of Cape Schanck Lighthouse

As shipping traffic into Melbourne increased along the coast of Mornington Peninsula between Western Port and Port Phillip Bay, there was a high incidence of shipwrecks. So, in 1841 a committee was formed to find the best location for a new lighthouse. Cape Schanck was chosen for it’s location and high cliffs. 18 years later the first stone was laid and Cape Schanck Lighthouse became operational in 1859.

Cape Schanck Lighthouse
Cape Schanck Lighthouse built in 1859

Cape Schanck Lighthouse was constructed using limestone blocks with a decorative bracketed gallery, rock face base course, tapered window and door openings and rare stone spiral staircase (one of only three pre 1863 surviving Lighthouses with a stone spiral staircase). The Lighthouse stands just 21 metres high and has been built on an 80-metre cliff the focal plain of the light is 100 metres above sea level. The range of the beacon is 26 nautical miles over the shipping lanes of the Bass Strait.

The Keeper’s Quarters (used for guest accommodation today) was built using the same limestone construction and provides a unique glimpse into the history of lighthouse life in a remote and dramatic natural setting.

Cape Schanck is considered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to be the most original lighthouse under its jurisdiction. The original clockwork mechanism is still in place, though the light is now turned by an electric motor. The lighthouse was renovated from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. The character code or signature code for the Cape Schanck Light is the Morse code letter “N”. This Morse code is unique to the Cape Schanck Lighthouse.

Tours of Cape Schanck lighthouse are given daily and there is an excellent Museum in the old Assistant Lightkeepers Quarters open to the public.

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Cape Schanck Lightstation

420 Cape Schanck Road
Cape Schanck, VIC 3939 Australia
Tel: 03 59886184
Fax: 03 59886251
Lat: -38.4922899936 
Long:   144.88665997982