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Margaret River Vista

Heart of WA's Wine Region


Ghosts of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

The Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse,  standing proudly at the tip of Cape Naturaliste, has all the hallmarks of being haunted . It looks slightly creepy, it’s over a hundred years old,  it has been struck by lightning numerous times, it sways ever so slightly in strong winds, its teak steps creak a lot and it once had the bath of liquid mercury that sent lightkeepers mad.  But alas, despite all its potential creep, it isn’t the lighthouse that is haunted. No,  it’s the lighthouse cottages .

The lighthouse cottages were built to house the families of the lighthouse keepers. It would have been a very lonely life out there on their own.

A few years ago I jokingly asked the gentleman in the lighthouse gift shop if it was true the place was haunted? He looked me straight in the eye and said “You mean Harry and Mary?” I wasn’t too sure if it was his standard answer as I am sure he had been asked that question a lot.

Evidently, the two ghosts haunt separate cottages, which in itself makes me chuckle. No group hugs here! Happy Harry haunts cottage 1 and Bloody Mary haunts cottage 2.

Dawn Brians, one of the lighhouse tour guides, gave these two ghosts their names. She has crossed both their paths numerous times.

Happy Harry the Ghost

Light keepers cottages

So who are these Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse ghosts?  Harry, the ghost of cottage 1,  is thought to be the soul of 17 year old Harry Balmire.

Harry was one of 14 survivors of the ill fated “Carnarvon Castle”, a ship that caught fire in the Indian Ocean, near Amsterdam Island  in 1907.   Following the fire, the crew split into two lifeboats. Harry, the young apprentice,was in the lifeboat with the captain and 14 crew members.

The lifeboat tossed and turned in the roughs seas for three weeks. Thirst, hunger and exposure were taking its toll. Poor Harry was especially in a bad way. Having run out of water many chose to drink sea water.  The men were barely clinging to life when the lights of the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse broke the night skies.

As they attempted to come ashore, their boat struct the long stretchof reefs and they were all tossed into the ocean. One of the men carried young Harry to shore while the others struggled behind.

By the time the lighthouse keepers found the men, Harry was unconscious. A doctor was called from Busselton but Harry died the next day in…wait for it…cottage 1. His body was buried in the Busselton cemetery but was later exhumed and sent home to Scotland.

Harry has been spotted happily roaming around the cottages. He has also been spotted in the car park holding a lantern.

Bloody Mary the Ghost

Haunted cottage

Dawn Brians,  gave this ghost the name Bloody Mary due to her particular dislike of men. In the 1990’s a maintenance man staying in the cottage claimed a woman, dressed in period clothing, entered his room and grabbed him by the neck.  He fled . The next day he returned to work with nice red hand prints visible on his neck.

One of the lighthouse keepers recalled inviting some guests over to the then deserted cottage. As one of the woman walked down the passageway, she suddenly stopped.  She later said she felt as though a large black curtain had fallen in front of her.

During a 2011 ABC South West interview with Paul Sofilas, the lighthouse caretaker, he explained who Mary was. In 1909  the pregnant wife of one of the lighthouse keepers, Maud Elizabeth Govett Miner,  hopped on a chair to adjust the curtain and fell. The doctor was called but he was unable to reach the lighthouse for several days. In the mean time the woman developed septicaemia and both she and the baby died. Maud left behind a husband and three children.

When the lighthouse was opened to visitors, pregnant women and women with young children would often ask staff if a they had experienced anything strange around the cottage as they felt drawn to it.

Paul Sofilas said that he would often turn the lights off in one particular room in the cottage and later find it on.  The cottage at one time became a lunch room for the guides. When the guides walked in to the dark room the door would be open, but when they entered,  the door would close and the light would turn on.

Another time three workmen stayed in the cottage. One of the men had an electronic game device and in the middle of the night they would hear it being played.

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  1. Well my great great granparents were lighthouse keepers at cape leeuwin and other places and I only just found that she died at cape leeuwin age 34 her name Maude Elizabeth govett miner so young and how could someone die so young .I new they were lighthouse keepers but to actually find something is something.

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