Cape Schanck and the Historic Lighthouse: An Easy Summer Weekend Getaway

Updated on January 29, 2018
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Lady Rain is a daytime stock trader in Australia who likes to travel and has worked in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

Cape Schanck
Cape Schanck | Source

Cape Schanck

Feeling the need to escape the city? Get some fresh air and head down to Cape Schanck this weekend! Walk along the coast or trek the native bushlands and explore the rocky bays. Cape Schanck is located on the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. It is 88 kilometres from the city of Melbourne.

The Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia is a stretch of land south-east of Melbourne. The peninsula begins at Frankston and ends at Point Nepean, spanning a distance of about 40 kilometres. The shorelines of the Mornington Peninsula are popular attractions because of their beautiful beaches and fishing spots. Other attractions include the wineries, fruit farms, caravan parks, golf courses and maze gardens.

One of the main attraction at Cape Schanck is the Cape Schanck Lighthouse which is accessible by road. The lighthouse is at the end of Cape Schanck Road, about 6km after the turn off from Boneo Road. This main road (Boneo Road) links the seaside town of Rosebud on the north shore to the historic town of Flinders on the south shore of the Mornington Peninsula. Boneo Road meanders through native bushlands on both sides so there is no view of the coastline until the next town.

The information kiosk in front of the carpark.
The information kiosk in front of the carpark. | Source

Entry to the Light Station

To enter the light station grounds, you'll need to purchase a ticket. Tickets for guided tours of the lighthouse can be purchased at the Cape Schanck kiosk in front of the carpark area.

A narrow and steep flight of stairs leads up to the light station's balcony that can accommodate about a dozen people. Your friendly tour guide will spend a few minutes talking about the history of the light station. Visitors will get to see the lamproom inside the lighthouse and have a glimpse of the 1000-watt tungsten-halogen bulb.

From the balcony, visitors can enjoy the refreshing breeze and breathtaking views of the Bass Strait and the surrounding areas of the cape.

The Cape Schanck Lighthouse

Built in 1859, this limestone lighthouse has a narrow stone stairway to the top of the tower. The lighthouse tower is 21 metres high and stands at an elevation of 100 metres above sea level.

The Cape Schanck Lighthouse is one of the first lighthouses that was built in Australia and among the very few that is still operating.

At night, the light from this powerful lantern of 1,000,000 candelas is visible to ships that are as far as 48 km out at sea.

  • Candela is a measurement of luminous intensity. The luminous intensity of light emitted from a candle is approximately one candela.

Cape Schanck Lighthouse - a pretty sight after a long drive from Melbourne.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse - a pretty sight after a long drive from Melbourne. | Source

Lighthouse Museum

In the vicinity of the lighthouse is the old Assistant Lightkeeper's Quarters, which is now used as a museum for displays of the early lighthouse technology in Australia. The light station's grounds have a few shaded areas for picnics, and a couple of lookouts nearby.

History of the Lighthouse on Display

Museum displays with detailed information of innkeepers and the lighthouse.
Museum displays with detailed information of innkeepers and the lighthouse. | Source

Lighthouse Technology

The early lights were made of reflectors and powered with kerosene and acetylene. Now the tungsten-halogen lamps are powered by electricity.

The Early Lights

Top left - early lantern reflectors; top right - early clock mechanism; bottom left - acetylene flasher; bottom right - kerosene burner and vaporiser.
Top left - early lantern reflectors; top right - early clock mechanism; bottom left - acetylene flasher; bottom right - kerosene burner and vaporiser. | Source

Assistant Lightkeepers Quarters a.k.a. Cape Schanck Museum

Cape Schanck Museum was the Innkeepers' Residence a long time ago.
Cape Schanck Museum was the Innkeepers' Residence a long time ago. | Source

The Rugged Coastline

View of the cape from the lighthouse's small balcony.
View of the cape from the lighthouse's small balcony. | Source

Where to Stay in Cape Schanck

For tourists and visitors who want to spend a few nights near the lighthouse, the Cape Schanck Light Station Hotel is two minutes' walk from the lighthouse. It has one motel room and three self-contained cottages available for bookings. Guests are advised to bring their own necessities and some food supplies as the nearest shops are 20 minutes away by car.

The RACV Cape Schanck Resort is about 4km from the lighthouse on Cape Schanck Road. Guests at the resort have access to the golf course, swimming pool and restaurant.

Some of the accommodation cottages at the light station grounds.
Some of the accommodation cottages at the light station grounds. | Source
At a nearby strawberry farm during fruit picking season and open to the public.
At a nearby strawberry farm during fruit picking season and open to the public. | Source

The wineries, farms and markets are less than 30 minutes' drive from the accommodation. These farms and markets have some of the best produce in Australia, so check them out if you can. Dozens of cellar doors are open for wine tasting on weekends. The fruit farms are open to the public for fruit picking during their harvesting seasons in summer. The weekend markets selling fresh farm produce are bustling with people.

My hand-picked strawberries, can't get any fresher than these!
My hand-picked strawberries, can't get any fresher than these! | Source

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Exploring Cape Schanck

There are a number of scenic walking tracks and lookout areas in Cape Schanck. Next to the kiosk in front of the lighthouse, there's a sign with directions to the different walking tracks.

The Fingal Picnic Area is about 2km north of the cape along the Fingal Walking Track. The Bushranger's Bay Walk has 3km of walking track to the east. The Bushranger's Bay has a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by basalt lava cliffs. Swimming is not recommended here as there are strong rips and waves, plus there are no lifeguards in this area. Follow the walking track from the lighthouse car park and enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery along the way.

A
Cape Shanck:
Cape Schanck VIC 3939, Australia

get directions

B
Bushranger's Bay:
Bushranger's Bay, Victoria, Australia

get directions

C
Fingal Picnic Area:
Fingal Picnic Area

get directions

D
Pulpit Rock :
Pulpit Rock, Victoria, Australia

get directions

Bushrangers Bay in the distance.
Bushrangers Bay in the distance. | Source
The Boardwalk going down to the rocky beach.
The Boardwalk going down to the rocky beach. | Source

Another track on the Boardwalk will lead you down to the beach area and the rock pools. It will be about 750 metres of easy walking down the wooden platform and dozens of steps. (But.. be prepared to walk the same distance up the steps later!)

There are several lookouts along the way. Pebble Beach and the huge rocks platforms along the coastline are a spectacular view. These rocks were formed from basalt lava thousands of years ago.

Oil Painting of the Castle Rock (Pulpit Rock) by Eugene von GUÉRARD in 1865
Oil Painting of the Castle Rock (Pulpit Rock) by Eugene von GUÉRARD in 1865 | Source

The rugged cliffs and rock platforms were caused by erosions over many years. The prominent piece of geological formation that stands out among the lava rock platforms is the Pulpit Rock (formerly named Castle Rock) which stands at the tip of the cape. The area around this rock formation is the Devil's Desk.

Picnic goers and visitors can't resist getting a closer look at the Pulpit Rock when the tides are low. Rising tides and huge waves are common in this treacherous stretch of coastline. Visitors are advised to be careful when exploring these areas as sudden waves often come crashing onto the rock platforms and beach.

Pebble Beach is a fascinating beach with big round rocks. At times, big waves wash ashore without any warning.
Pebble Beach is a fascinating beach with big round rocks. At times, big waves wash ashore without any warning. | Source
The Pulpit Rock and Devil's Desk. A beautiful place but dangerous during high tides and unpredictable weather conditions.
The Pulpit Rock and Devil's Desk. A beautiful place but dangerous during high tides and unpredictable weather conditions. | Source

What to Bring When Exploring Cape Schanck

  1. Comfortable clothes (a jacket if the weather is cold and windy).
  2. A good pair of sneakers. Be prepared to do a lot of walking and climbing the steps.
  3. Sunhat.
  4. Sunscreen.
  5. Plenty of water to drink (especially in summer).
  6. An energetic body and mind!

Heed the warning signs!
Heed the warning signs! | Source

Things to Watch out for When Exploring Cape Schanck

  1. Watch out for snakes slithering across the walking track (especially during their breeding season between October and March).
  2. Other wildlife animals - leave them alone, do not harm them nor keep as pets.
  3. Native plants and vegetation - do not destroy or collect any from the wild.
  4. Be careful of loose pebbles and rocks when walking on rocky areas.
  5. Beware of falling rocks when walking under the overhanging cliffs.
  6. Sudden waves can hit the rock platforms and beach areas without warning.
  7. Leave the beach before the tides come in. If you get stranded on the rocks, you are in danger.
  8. Swimming and surfing is not recommended in areas without lifeguards - do it at your own risk!
  9. Leave the area before sunset if you are not familiar with the road going home.
  10. Do not leave any rubbish behind, put them in the bins provided or bring them home with you.

The beginning of a slow climb up and back to the lighthouse car park! Do it while the sun is still high in the sky.
The beginning of a slow climb up and back to the lighthouse car park! Do it while the sun is still high in the sky. | Source

Time Lapse Photography of Cape Schanck

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 lady rain

    Comments

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    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Just gorgeous! If I'm ever out that way, I'll keep it in mind.

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