Margaret River Lighthouses: Two Iconic Maritime Wonders

Two Iconic Maritime Wonders

Who doesn’t love a tale of the sea? Of shipwrecks, scurvy and maritime heartache. On visiting Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse last week, we learned that caretaker and guide Paul Sofilas just celebrated 25 years, so we asked him about life at the lighthouse to mark the special occasion. We also share some insights into what makes Margaret River’s lighthouses so important.

“I feel blessed to live and work in such a special place,” said Paul. “Every day I meet incredible people, and no two tours – or days – are the same.”

Lighthouses have long captured our collective imaginations, attracting curiosity regarding their structure and the rugged individuals who crewed them with the purpose of saving countless lives from harm.

“I’ve visited many other lighthouses, including Cape Wickham Lighthouse on King Island for its 150th anniversary in 2011. It’s Australia’s tallest lighthouse at 48 metres. They don’t usually offer public tours, but for four days and purely by chance I had the pleasure and the privilege of guiding tours!”

There are 350 lighthouses scattered on Australian beaches, islands and harbours, and we’re lucky to have two lighthouses – still operational – at either end of the Margaret River Region. Both are open for guided tours and are exceptional attractions for young and old alike. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse near Dunsborough and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse near Augusta stand as our guardians of the oceans, standing proud above submerged reef and hidden rocks.

With their lifesaving purpose from dusk to dawn, these lighthouses offer visitors a unique experience of going inside and up to the top of a working lighthouse.


Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Soaring high above the wild and windswept landscape near charming Augusta is mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Towering at a mighty 39 metres, situated at the most south-westerly point of Australia, and surrounded by two powerful oceans, it has a commanding presence – and a story to tell.

Take a trip down maritime history and learn how this famous landmark was constructed from local limestone in 1895 and still functions as a vital working lighthouse for vessels navigating the treacherous cape. Guided tours will take you up the 176 stairs to the top of the tower, where a vast seascape of crashing waves and wild rocky shoreline unfolds. Learn about the 60,000-year history of the cape, the development of the cape in the 400 years since the Dutch landed, and the lives of the brave lighthouse keepers and their families.

Paul has seen plenty of changes in 25 years; “Back in 1999 we had a basic shop behind the lighthouse. There was no café, we couldn’t take credit cards and we didn’t even have a lease!”

A highlight has been his involvement in the new Lightkeeper’s Cottage Interpretive Centre, which won a state Heritage Award after its 2019 launch. “For 20 years I’d check the skip bins following site maintenance and find things I knew could tell a great story in a museum.”

As technology improved, old weather instruments and the like became redundant, but luckily for us, Paul would find and keep them, knowing that one day they would come in handy. Additionally, many artefacts and photographs were donated by the lighthouse keepers’ families, helping to tell the stories of life out on the cape.

So, if you don’t fancy climbing the stairs, get an even deeper understanding at the Lightkeeper’s Cottage Interpretive Centre, housed in one of the original limestone cottages. With interactive technology, artefacts and films, the centre gives you an insight into those who were once the custodians of the coastline. The experience was developed by the same group who created the digital experiences at Albany’s National Anzac Centre and WA Museum Boola Bardip – two excellent, modern museums.

Another career highlight was winning the 2009 Facet Golden Guide award, which Paul accepted in front of his industry peers at the Western Australian Tourism Awards.

“25 years on and there’s still something truly wonderful about climbing the lighthouse,” said Paul. “Whether it’s kids excited to peer over the balcony or visitors from England marvelling over the parts made in Birmingham, every day is a challenge and every day is different!”


Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Located only 13 kilometres from Dunsborough, and standing tall on a bluff overlooking Geographe Bay, the small but mighty Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is one of the most popular attractions in the Margaret River region.

Discover the beautiful heritage precinct of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse by climbing the 59 stairs for breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, Geographe Bay and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Unearth the fascinating history by listening to stories of hardship for the lighthouse keepers and their families who lived on-site from 1903 to 1996.

The manicured heritage precinct also features a maritime-themed playground, an accessible viewing platform and a lovely café, serving up delicious coffee and light meals. For those wanting to explore further, wander along the Cape-to-Cape Track that runs between Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and Sugarloaf Rock.

We can reveal that stories and artefacts are being gathered ahead of Cape Naturaliste having its own Interpretive Centre – watch this space!

Both Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouses are open to visitors each day for guided tours. Here at McLeod Tours we take guests of our 3 Day Tour to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to see the mighty lighthouse and where two oceans meet. Learn more about Margaret River’s two shining beacons at

Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Interested in learning more about the wineries in the region? Ask us about our range of wine tours available or contact us for more information about a fully customised private tour to suit your itinerary.

Contact Us

Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated to our offers and deals!

We are committed to protecting your privacy

Popular Post
About Mcleod Tours

Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter for exclusive news and discounts.