Hands-on history at new Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse centre

A new Interpretive Centre at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta will open its doors to the public on Saturday, 14 December 2019, with a Community Open Day offering free Heritage Interpretive passes to all visitors.

The permanent interactive exhibition space explores the stories and people associated with Cape Leeuwin from its inception through to the last lighthouse keeper's departure when the tower became fully automated.

Housed in one of the original lighthouse keeper cottages, the interpretive space penetrates the four main rooms and the enclosed verandah.

The exhibition itself houses artefacts, short stories, interactive technology and a large-scale animated film, allowing visitors to encounter fascinating stories about the men, women and children who once lived at the tallest lighthouse in mainland Australia.

Steering the creative, was award-winning production company Gibson Group, who specialise in location-based experiences for cultural and tourist attractions, and who were the team responsible for the National ANZAC Centre in Albany.

Some of the interactive experiences they have developed at Cape Leeuwin include a touchscreen that allows visitors to test their skills as a lighthouse keeper by practicing Morse Code, the installation of a historical piano that has seen service in six lighthouses across Australia and which periodically bursts into song without warning, and, for the more inquisitive, a portrait wall that comes to life as you approach.

Project Director, Brett Tompkins indicated that the new Interpretive Centre will be an engaging experience for visitors to the lighthouse.

"The intention of the exhibition is to be compelling to a variety of visitors without being overly encyclopaedic," he said.

"It is broad in appeal with stories on not only facts and figures about the lighthouse but also many personal stories about the people that lived here; that includes the families of Lightkeepers.

"Each of the four rooms in the cottage has a different theme and display approach.

"For example, in one room there is a short animated film experience which is extremely visual and imaginative, intended to take the visitor on an emotional journey more than a factual history lesson."

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association's Joint CEO and General Manager of Operations, Steve Harrison, said it was important that the organisation continued to improve and maintain the region's historical sites that are managed and cared for by MRBTA.

"Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is a key drawcard for visitors to the region and is MRBTA's highest visited attraction," he said.

"Continuing to improve and maintain the historical site as a world-class attraction will strengthen the visitor experience and keep in line with the demands of the modern traveller."

The Community Open Day will welcome past lighthouse keepers and their families to a morning tea ceremony from 10am- 11.30am, and allow visitors to meet the families, experience the Interpretive Centre and the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse grounds at no cost.

The project was made possible by support from the State Government's Royalties for Regions Program and was co-funded by the Australian Government with a grant administered by Tourism WA.