Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the centrepoint for action this spring
The iconic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta is not only a must-visit for tourists, it’s also the dramatic staging point for two of Australia’s most spectacular outdoor adventure sport events.
Lighthouses are, it must be said, generally designed to keep people away from getting too close to the coast. And that’s still the case for the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, one of Australia’s most historic coastal beacons still pulsing out a dazzling million-candela beam (one candela is equivalent to around a 200th of the brightness of a 50 watt light bulb) every 7.5 seconds.
Before the lighthouse was opened in 1896, the treacherous waters around Cape Leeuwin (named after the Dutch exploration ship Leeuwin, or lioness) had claimed 22 ships; just one met a watery fate after this time.
The lighthouse, operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, is now fully automated. Modern technology has superseded the original clockwork rotation mechanism and kerosene lantern.
Cape Leeuwin’s beam pierces the night for 25 nautical miles, plenty of warning for ships to steer clear of that savage shore.
But as well as being a working facility, the lighthouse now also plays an equally vital role in attracting people to the area – thousands of tourists each year.
And this spring the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse and the spectacular setting will be a centrepiece in two of Australia’s most thrilling outdoor sporting events – the Cape to Cape mountain bike challenge in October, and the revamped Augusta Adventure Fest in November.
From humble beginnings in 2008 with about 100 entrants, the Cape to Cape (its sister event is Queensland’s Reef to Reef and New South Wales’ Port to Port) last year attracted 1600 riders, of all skill levels, for the 10th anniversary.
Organisers are expecting similar numbers for this years race, 210 km across four stages from October 18 to 21.
Says Cape to Cape race director, Sally Hill; ‘We’re working on a loop course model to make it easier for the riders, where they start and finish at the same point; plus – it’s such a fantastic setting.’
And it’s not just the riders, their families and friends or local spectators who will get to see Cape Leeuwin and the south west’s amazing sights – there’ll be an international audience too. ‘We work with SBS each year to produce a documentary on the race, which is distributed to 132 countries,’ Sally said. With that, the event is said to pour around 2 million dollars into the local economy.
In November, the lighthouse will again be right in the thick of the action when the world’s biggest adventure sport event, The Augusta Adventure Fest, is held. ‘The Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is such a spectacular destination and feature of the whole south west region. With our event being based in Augusta it provides a recognisable landmark that characterises the event and the location,’ says Augusta Adventure Fest spokesperson Sam Maffet.
With multiple stages and disciplines ranging from trail running, mountain biking, paddling and ocean swimming – and more than 2500 competitors across all age groups and abilities – the Augusta Adventure Fest promises something for everybody.
‘We’ve designed the event for 2018 with a range of standalone races, trail running, mountain biking, ocean swimming on Saturday (November 3) and then the more typical non-stop adventure race on Sunday (November 4),’ says Sam. ‘This means the trail running race on Saturday will again start on the granite domes at the base of the lighthouse, which is such an epic start line.’
Even when you’re not an action packed sports junkie, the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse experience is one not to be missed. The breathtaking views, the power of the ocean and the striking shoreline of this coastal sentinel, are a must-see when it comes to the south west.