Cape Northumberland

South Australia's most Southerly Point boasts a magnificent rugged coastline, natural vegetation and uninterrupted ocean views. The 1882 lighthouse is one of the most spectacular locations to have an uninterrupted view of the sunrise and sunset of the Southern Ocean. Fairy Penguins can be viewed each day at dusk and dawn at the Penguin Viewing Platform.

Picturesque rock formations called Rhino, Frog, Crocodile and Camel Rocks, Lobster Pot Rocks and Map of Australia Reef can all be seen from the Lighthouse area at Cape Northumberland.

Where is it?: South East. At the west end of MacDonnell Bay on the south east coast of South Australia about 28 kilometres south south west of the city of Mount Gambier.

Cape Northumberland beach is a 90m long, east facing pocket of sand fronted by a mixture of rock flats and some sand patches. A small penguin colony is located on the eastern side of the cape. While all a suitable for sunbathing, swimming can a problem owing to numerous rocks. Use caution and stay close inshore on the sandy patches. Three popular fishing locations provide easy access to the reef flats, holes and gutters.

Cape Northumberland was named by the Royal Navy officer, James Grant, on 3rd December 1800 after the Duke of Northumberland.

Exploring Cape Northumberland

As you drive out to Cape Northumberland from Port Macdonnell you will notice some rocky formations which the locals refer to as the petrified forest. They are a series of strange rocky outcrops. Cape Northumberland is fascinating and well worth a visit.

Veronica Jenkins from the Port MacDonnell & District Maritime Museum writes of the cape and its lighthouse: 'The first lighthouse was approved in 1856 and completed in July 1857 at a cost of 1837. It was built on an extremely exposed part of the coast, with cliffs falling a hundred feet to the sea on either side of the narrow piece of land on which it was built. It was necessary later to erect a stone wall around the buildings to make it safer for the keepers of the lighthouse.

'By 1880 this lighthouse was considered unsafe. The rocky area on which it had been built was very friable, and so tenders were called for a new lighthouse. It was operating for the first time in April 1882. Originally there were three stone cottages built near the lighthouse but these were replaced in 1909 by three wooden cottages, two of which still stand near the lighthouse. The stone cottages were removed in 1919.

'Very little remains of the first lighthouse however a stone seat has been placed on the site. It carries a plaque honouring the memory of Captain Ben Germein. He was the first keeper. He also surveyed the harbour, selected the site for the port to serve the district and was involved in rescue attempts for many of the shipwrecks along the coast including the famous Admella and John Ormerod.

'The Petrified Forest has been tested and evidently has been found not to be petrified wood although the locals still know it as the Petrified Forest. Frog Rock, just like Rhino Rock and Captains Head Rock, is believed to be named because they look like a frog, rhino and captain's head. Captains Head is no longer recognisable as the years have eroded its character.'

The Cape is perfect for watching sunrise, though there are some amazing sunset over the sea too. After sunset, wait on the viewing platform until its dark for the Little Penguins (Eudyptula Minor) to come home from eating their body weight in fish.

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