Located in the southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula, Cape Schanck is a well-known historical landmark in the state of Victoria.
It was named after Captain John Schank, R.N. in the early 1800’s by Lieutenant James Grant while in command of the the majestic Lady Nelson.
If you are a maritime history enthusiast and wish to know more about the route of the Lady Nelson and even the discovery of Port Philip Bay, then check out the Lady Nelson webpage – it contains some wonderful transcriptions from the ship’s log during her foray across the Bass Strait:
We particularly love the old writing style and spelling of certain words.
Captain Schank, or “Old Purchase” as he was known, was a genius in mechanical design. In 1776 he was in charge of assembling ships to battle the American Revolutionaries on Lake Champlain. Within a short period he constructed the HMS Inflexible, part of the fleet that defeated General Benedict Arnold’s fleet in October 1776. He went on to design ships with a sliding keel to allow navigation of shallow waters. The HMS Lady Nelson was one of these ships, and was commissioned to explore and map parts of Australia.
The name of the locality “Schanck” is actually the result of a misspelling of Schank (having two c’s, instead of one).
Cape Schanck offers a breathtaking view of unspoilt beaches and scenic walking tracks. One of its most recognisable landmarks is the iconic lighthouse.
The Cape Schanck Lighthouse was constructed in 1859 from limestone blocks laced with decorative brackets. It is built on an 80-metre cliff and the lighthouse itself stands 21 metres high. The light is located 100 metres above sea level with a beacon that ranges up to 26 nautical miles over the shipping lanes of the Bass Strait.
The Cape Schanck Lighthouse was the first light station in Victoria and the first one in Australia built with stone stairs. It is considered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to be the most original lighthouse under its jurisdiction. In the 1980’s, the tower was reconstructed and has since become a popular tourist attraction. We definitely recommend a visit to the Cape Schanck Lighthouse during your stay with us on the Mornington Peninsula. Just ask at reception about opening times, etc.
Today, the lighthouse features a museum building that sits in the former Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s quarters. Here you can get a glimpse into the history of the lighthouse and the life of the light keepers and maritime families during the 1800’s. They have a large depository of artefacts and displays featuring the history of the tower and its role in guiding the ships into Port Phillip.
Standing on the lookout area and smelling the ocean, you can almost imagine the silhouette of a ship on the horizon… sails full, keel bursting over the waves as she makes her way towards the magnificent waters of Port Phillip Bay and the beautiful land of Cape Schanck.