Row over future of Cape Otway lighthouse

The Cape Otway lighthouse at night.
The Cape Otway lighthouse at night.

The state government’s decision to cancel the tender process for the management of the Cape Otway Lighthouse and take over the site’s management has been slammed by a local MP.

Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan said Parks Victoria had made “a schmozzle” of managing the 12 Apostles and was now set to manage the Cape Otway lighthouse.

He said the current lessee of the lighthouse precinct had made it a good business and the state’s action would deter other private investors from taking on Crown leases.

“I know the local tourism industry is in shock,” Mr Riordan said.

He said he feared the state government would transfer money from plans to upgrade regional tourism infrastructure to run the lighthouse precinct.

“Parks Victoria could potentially ruin this (the Cape Otway lighthouse tourism attaction),” he said.

The current lessee of the lighthouse precinct, Matt Bowker from Tourism Great Ocean Road, said his firm put a lot of work into its bid to lease the site for the next 21 years and was disappointed the expression of interest process had been cancelled.

Mr Bowker said his firm had leased the site for the past 22 years and its long-term lease had expired in December. It was currently leasing the site on a month to month basis, he said. 

A Parks Victoria spokesman said the lighthouse was located on a central part of the Great Ocean Road and the Great Ocean Walk.

When Parks Victoria took over management, it aimed to improve access and entry to the precinct, align the site with the Great Ocean Walk and Shipwreck Coast and improve its infrastructure, utilities and services, the spokesman said.

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