With rugged scenery, rich history and rustic charm the Cape Cleveland Lighthouse is fast becoming one of the most sought-after tour destinations in Townsville.
Cape Cleveland Lighthouse sits atop the Cape’s cliffs at the northern most point of Cleveland Bay and is 40 kilometres east north east from Townville City. The lighthouse and the original lighthouse keeper’s cottages were constructed in 1879 and for over 100 years the lighthouse was manned and operated by Lighthouse Keepers and their families.
The striking red and white lighthouse originally built in and shipped from England has recently been refurbished to ensure its original timber framing and cast iron cladding continues to stand proudly as the entrance to Cleveland Bay. At 11 meters tall the Lighthouse’s light is set at 64 meters above sea level and of an evening from Castle Hill or Kissing Point its white light flashing every 7 and a half seconds can be seen winking in the distance. For Seafarers approaching from the East it also marks the dangers of Salamander Reef and Four Foot Rock by a sectored red light.
The lighthouse was the 13th lighthouse constructed and commissioned in Queensland and until 1987 when the light was converted to solar power the light was always manned, even during the worst of our cyclones the lighthouse keepers kept the acetylene gas lamp burning. During World War II the lighthouse served as an observation post and radar base manned by the RAAF from the large allied base in Townsville. Today, only ruins remain of the observation platform, radar hut and a powerhouse constructed during the war.
Despite the construction of the lighthouse some vessels have still been wrecked in the Cape Cleveland area including Borealis 1888, Alarm 1896, Mount Elliot 1919, and the Idle Wise in 1989. The grounds and houses today are maintained by Cape Cleveland Lighthouse custodians Ray and Sue Boundy. Ray puts a lot of time and effort into keeping the former beauty of this part of our region alive. For the lighthouse enthusiasts Ray accepts willing volunteers to assist him in restoring and preserving the site and contact can be made via the Friends of Cape Cleveland Lighthouse group on Facebook.
Aside from the striking ruggedness and beauty of Cape Cleveland the area is rich in bird and marine life. 5 types of turtles are found in the surrounding waters the most prolific, the Green turtle, can always been seen grazing in the waters directly below the lighthouse. At this time of years sightings of Indopacific Humpback Whale are common and Irrawaddy and Bottlenose dolphins are also sighted in Cleveland Bay though less often.
Adding to the uniqueness of the Cape there are 2 plants that are endemic to Cape Cleveland including the Babingontina papillosa; a shrub which occurs only in two known populations at Mt. Elliot and Cape Cleveland, and Grewia graniticola; a shrub which is (near) endemic and is only found on Magnetic Island, Cape Cleveland and Gloucester Bay.
These days getting to Cape Cleveland Lighthouse is a simple as joining one of SeaLink Queensland’s tours which run seasonally from May to October each year. One of the most spectacular ways of getting the most from your visit is to experience the thrill of a helicopter flight, Townsville Helicopters offer scenic flights at the Cape or they can fly you to the Cape and then you can cruise home into the sunset on-board SeaLink.
For more information visit www.sealinkqld.com.au/tours or call 4726 0800.