Bea­con of De­spair

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Reader Stories -

The Cape Leeuwin Light­house is sit­u­ated at the most south­west­erly tip of Aus­tralia, at the point where the In­dian and South­ern Oceans meet. Its beam can be seen for 48 kilo­me­tres. The light­house keep­ers had to climb the 186 steps four times a day to en­sure the light kept burn­ing. Such was life at the re­mote Cape Leeuwin Light­house from 1895 un­til it was au­to­mated in 1992.

Time may have moved on, but a cer­tain light­house keeper’s wife re­fused to budge. She is the ghost who dwells in Cot­tage Three, the cot­tage clos­est to the light­house. Pho­tog­ra­pher Peter Rigby has been pho­tograph­ing the light­house for years and is con­vinced there is a pres­ence in Cot­tage Three. “There is a sense of deso­la­tion in the cot­tage and it cer­tainly is colder than the other ones,” he says.

In 1909, the then light­house keeper’s wife, Maud El­iz­a­beth Govett Miner, was heav­ily preg­nant. She was clean­ing the house in prepa­ra­tion for her baby’s ar­rival. She stood on a chair to ad­just a cur­tain, suf­fered a heavy fall and in­jured her­self badly. It took days for the doc­tor to ar­rive. “She died from sep­ti­caemia and trag­i­cally her baby died, too,” Peter ex­plains. “They were just too far from any­where.”

Since her pass­ing, Cot­tage Three, where Maud was liv­ing at the time, has been a con­stant source of haunted ac­tiv­ity. “The cur­rent light­house care­taker and tours su­per­vi­sor, Paul ­Sofi­las, has lived on site for ten years,” says Peter. “He talks of lights go­ing on and off for no rea­son. Doors will open and close and no-one is there.”

Ac­cord­ing to Paul, preg­nant women and women with young ba­bies are par­tic­u­larly drawn to Cot­tage Three. “It’s as if the light­house keeper’s wife is beck­on­ing them so she can see their ba­bies,” adds Peter. Maud was very ma­ter­nal; she had three other chil­dren and she didn’t get to give birth to her much-an­tic­i­pated fourth child. Many say the loss of that baby is likely the rea­son why her spirit has not been able to move on.

One vis­i­tor saw a woman in pe­riod dress stand­ing on the ve­randa of Cot­tage Three. She ran to the of­fice to re­port what she had seen. “The of­fice staff took her back to the cot­tage and showed her a pho­to­graph of the light­house keeper’s wife that is kept in the lounge room,” Peter ex­plains. “The woman screamed and al­most fainted. ‘It was her,’ she gasped. ‘I just saw her stand­ing on the bal­cony.’ How do you ex­plain that?”

No-one can.

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