"Towards the end of my recent trip to New Zealand and Australia I stood atop the Cape Otway lighthouse looking out over the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. I enjoyed the view and reflected for some minutes on the long voyage from Britain."Well, I stood on top of the Cape Otway lighthouse looking out over the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean also. I also enjoyed the view but I did not reflect upon the long voyage from Britain. I was only congratulating myself for making it up there without slowing down anyone
I find what she wrote in the following paragraphs is better than I can ever write and well worth a reading:
"It was a beautiful, sunny, early autumn afternoon when I was there; I found it difficult to imagine making the approach to this spot on a stormy night in a sailing ship, not having seen land for weeks. The lighthouse and its beam must have conveyed much more than a message of warning to those who saw it.I did not intend to seek history on my trip there, but history is part of our life nevertheless.
"The lighthouse was constructed in 1847-1848. The dangers of this point of land had been recognized right from the discovery of the strait in 1798 but dense forest and difficult terrain long delayed any attempt to build. The completion of the lighthouse coincided approximately with other significant events—the discovery of gold in Australia (1851), the beginning of regular steamship sailings (the Great Eastern made her first voyage in 1852) and the adoption of the great circle route to Australia. Ships altered their track to a faster route and passed well south of the Cape of Good Hope; they might see no more than a few rocky islands between Britain and Cape Otway. For thousands of people, Cape Otway became their gateway to a new life."