Hi everyone, I hope you and yours are doing well.
A little bit of Western Australian history today.... the first European mapping of Cape Leeuwin on Western Australia's south west corner. You can see my previous post here - Cape-leeuwin-meeting-of-oceans-western-australia
Nine kilometres south of Augusta, the Cape is located on the extreme south-west point of Western Australia, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.
A community day in Augusta and the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse was held on Sunday 30 October 2022 to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of the mapping of Cape Leeuwin by Europeans.
The first inhabitants, the Wardandi indigenous people, called it Doogalup.
Accidental landfalls on the Great South Land by Dutch trading vessels on their way to the East Indies started to occur along the coast around 1616, when they adopted new sailing directions east from the Cape of Good Hope.
Taking advantage of the Roaring Forties trade winds, sailing time was halved. Ships sailed south from the Cape of Good Hope (S36º-S44º), and then 3865 nautical miles east before turning north. However, inaccuracies in measurement resulted in many ships making contact with the Western Australian coast.
The Dutch navigators called the Cape, Leeuwin’s Land (Land van de Leeuwin), after the ship Leeuwin (The Lioness) which sighted the Cape in March 1622. Unfortunately the Leeuwin was the first vessel to sail the continent’s most southerly latitudes. have been lost, so very little is known of the voyage, although letters revealed the
above is - Hessel Gerritsz, Map of the Land of the Eendracht (1627). Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
This part of the coastline first appeared on charts (Chart of the Land of Eendracht) in 1627 by Dutch cartographer, Hessel Gerritsz showing the coast between present-day and Point D’Entrecasteaux. (see the map above)
Subsequent maps showed other, sometimes accidental, discoveries along the coast between 1616 and 1628 – including Dirk Hartog’s discoveries in 1616.
In 1644 the western and northern coast of Australia was named New Holland by Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, known for his discovery of Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) off the southern tip of eastern Australia.
English navigator Matthew Flinders acknowledged the Dutch name, Leeuwin’s Land, when he named Cape Leeuwin, on December 7, 1801 during his circumnavigation and mapping of Flinders landed in the bay to the east of Cape Leeuwin, today's Flinders Bay.
Aboriginal man Bungaree sailed with Flinders, using his knowledge of Aboriginal protocol to negotiate peaceful meetings with local Indigenous people.
Located on the tip of the Cape, the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia and an important link in the chain of essential navigation aids around the Australian coast.
The official opening of the lighthouse was made by the Premier of Western Australia, Sir John Forrest, on December 10, 1896.
Although the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse was officially proposed in 1881, there were several delays including the need to excavate more than 1,000 cubic metres of earth when loose boulders instead of bedrock was encountered on the site. Constructed from local tamala limestone quarried about 1.2 kilometres away at Quarry Bay, the tower is built on a 6.7 metre foundation, with 2 metre thick walls at the base and an elevation of 56 metres above Mean Tide Level. The light was automated in August 1992 and has a range of approximately 25 nautical miles.
Shallow rocks stretching 7 kilometres out from the Cape, diverging currents and massive swells claimed 22 ships before the lighthouse was built. Winds can reach 100-160 kilometres on the Cape.
..... dramatic on a stormy day!
Visitors can climb to the viewing area via 176 steps, but the fascinating tour and the expansive 360 degree views are worth the climb. It is a great place to spot Humpback and Southern Right whales May to September as well as fur seals and sea birds. The first image in this post, and the view of the cottages from above are from the top of the lighthouse.
The October 2022 celebration was forced to move to the Augusta Centennial Hall by bad weather, but featured many activities including a Welcome to Country by Iszaac Webb, unveiling of a commemorative plaque by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Marion Derckx, and rollicking sea shanties by the Anchormen.
The Interpretive Centre and tours at the heritage listed lighthouse and keepers cottages precinct reveal its history and the lives of the numerous lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse has been undergoing a once in a century renovation and has now reopened. Check the website for opening hours – usually 9am to 4pm. Refreshments available at the Cafe.
The Cape to Cape track traverses 135km from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Can be done over a number of days in one attempt, or split over a few weekends, self guide or guided. Maps available from Visitor Information Centres. I had always intended to do this walk, my son has done it a couple of times, but I am yet to attempt it in its entirety though we have done small sections of it. Cape to Cape - Boranup Forest loop
Where is it: Leeuwin Road, 9 kms south of Augusta, 316 kms south of Perth, Western Australia. Latitude 340 22’ south, longitude 1150 08’ east.
Auswalk - Cape to Cape Track
Monash University - Searching for Hessel Gerritsz
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