Danger Point › Western Cape › South Africa
Danger Point - Coast of Beauty and Bereavement
The name Danger Point says it all. This beautiful but treacherous peninsula, on the southern point of Walker Bay, got its name from the many reefs and rocks under the ocean’s surface that made it one of the most dangerous sea routes in the world for early travellers.
Few other coastlines boast the dubious reputation of being the final resting place of as many ships, and the place where the legendary ghost ship “The Flying Dutchman” was first spotted.
Danger Point Lighthouse was built in 1894, 44 years after the legendary British troopship HMS Birkenhead met her doom on a rock just off Danger Point. The Birkenhead became famous because it was the first shipwreck where the "women and children first" protocol was applied. All seven women and 13 children made it to safety, but most of the soldiers perished. Only an estimated 193 of the 643 passengers survived.
Today, the 18,3m tall octagonal lighthouse with its revolving electrical light that emits three flashes every 40 seconds, serves as a powerful warning and commemoration to the thousands of lives claimed by this treacherous coastline over the centuries. The light can be seen for approximately 25 nautical miles. Tourists can climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse for a stunning all-round view of the ocean and the hinterland of the peninsula.
The notorious rock, since dubbed Birkenhead Rock, is visible from the lighthouse and one can often see the waves crashing against it about 1,5km from the shore.
A commemorative plaque recording this event was set into the wall of the tower by the Navy League of South Africa in 1936. The largest collection of Birkenhead relics is housed in the privately-owned Strandveld Museum in nearby Franskraal.
The Danger Point Lighthouse can be reached via a tarred road en route to Kleinbaai, or on foot via a hiking trail that runs along the rugged coastline between Kleinbaai and Walker Bay.