Coast of Beauty and Bereavement
The name Danger Point says it all. This beautiful but treacherous peninsula on the southern point of Walker Bay was already as early as 16 May 1488 dubbed Ponte de Sao Brandao by Bartholomew Dias and his expedition, referring to the many reefs and rocks under the surface that made it one of the most dangerous sea routes in the world in those years.
Few other coasts boast the dubious reputation for being the final resting place of many ships and the place where the Flying Dutchman was spotted the first time.
Today, the 18,3 m tall octagonal lighthouse with its revolving electrical light emitting three flashes every 40 seconds, serves as a powerful warning and commemoration to the thousands of lives claimed by this stretch of sea over the centuries. The light can be seen for approximately 25 sea miles. Tourists can climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse for a stunning all-round view over the ocean and the hinterland of the peninsula.
The 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. The 7 women and 13 children were saved, but most of the soldiers on board perished. Only an estimated 193 of the 643 passengers survived.
The rock, since dubbed Birkenhead Rock, is visible from the lighthouse and one can often see the waves crashing against it about 1,5 km 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.