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cape cap
21 Oct 2008

What an experience of a lifetime. Recently I had the pleasure of holidaying at Cape Capricorn Lighthouse situated on Curtis Island 24km north of Gladstone off the Central Queensland Coast and is only accessible by boat (beach landing) or air via a helicopter.

There have been 3 lighthouses at Cape Capricorn, the original was made of timber and clad with iron as were the two adjoining dwellings at the lighthouse. They were assembled on site in 1875.

The original oil wicker burner at the lighthouse was replaced by varpourised kerosene with an incadescent kerosene mantel in 1923.

However, in 1936 the original structure was replaced and the light converted to electric operation in 1938. The light flashes every 15 seconds. The current concrete structure was built in 1964 and the llighthouse still operates today.

Cape Capricorn Lighthouse is privately leased and earlier this year I was invited to be keeper on this remote Island for 2 weeks. It was an experience that I will remember for a very long time.

The Lighthouse has a 360 degree view of the surrounding Pacific ocean and neighbouring islands. The climate is ideal and whilst not the ideal holiday destination for everyone; it is like being at a boot camp, with electricity only by means of a generator; and no vehicles except for some rusted out old four-wheel drives that have seen better days.

A reef just off the island proved to be a haven for fishing and a popular spot for many retired "grey nomads" and "baby boomers" who cruised up and down the Queensland coastline in their catamarans.

Access from the beach to the lighthouse is by way of a petrol driven engine with steel ropes pulling up a cage along railway lines to the top. All food is taken over by boat from Gladestone, a 2 to 4 hour trip depending on weather conditions. Our journey to the island in perfect sunshine and calm seas took just over 2 hours, but the return journey, back through a safe passage called "the narrows", lasted for 5 hours; as it was necessary for us to exit the island in an emergency due to rough stormy seas with waves up to 2 metres high.

Life on the island consisted of canooing up to the 'yellow patch', another popular sheltered bay for retirees escaping the hussle and bussle of city life, putting out crabpots, fishing, 4W driving over steep terrain, and my favourite was catching beach worms.

The sunsets had to be seen to be believed and it truly was a paradise island that I am pleased to have had the pleasure of experiencing.

At night, watching the moon sink below the water, the clear starry nights interrupted only by the flashing of the lighthouse made this a holiday destination that everyone should have on their "bucket list".

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