The Point Lonsdale Guest House was built in 1884, even before a proper
lighthouse structure existed.
The "lighthouse" then consisted of an oil burning lantern hanging from a
crossbar. The lighthouse keeper at the time, a Mr Dunk, built Terminus
House (as the guest house was previously known) as a residence for his
It was Dunk's daughter, Mrs Ward, who first took in guests when she
opened the Terminus as a boarding house. The twelve rooms of the Terminus
were filled with people constructing the lighthouse at Point Lonsdale,
which was established in 1902.
The crossbar with the oil lantern had been erected in 1852 after the
barque "Princess Royal" was wrecked on rocks at Point Lonsdale in 1849.
In bound from Hong Kong, the ship's master, Captain Sinclair, had been
misled by the light at Shortland's Bluff (Queenscliff) and had run
aground on Lonsdale Reef.
It was subsequently declared that a light was needed at the Point
Lonsdale outer head. A timber structure was put up in 1863 standing 25m
above sea level with a light which, in clear weather, was visible from
18.5kms at sea.
It was in March 1902, that the current lighthouse was commissioned and
stands 120 m above sea level with its light visible from 30kms. During
its construction Mr and Mrs Hewitson bought Terminus House on the advice
of their bank manager in Ballarat and began running it as a guest house
rather than a boarding house. Visitors travelled by train from Ballarat,
or by steamer from Melbourne to Queenscliff. They would then go by horse
and dray to the guest house. Appropriately, it was named the Terminus as
this was the "end of the line".
As more visitors came to the area a second storey was added by Mr
Hewitson and his son in 1910. The pair used second-hand timber washed up
on the Lonsdale beaches from both ship wrecks and ballast timber which
had been jettisoned by sailing ships as they negotiated the Rip.
In 1928 the guest house was taken over by the Hewitson's daughter Iris,
who ran it with her husband Charles Phelan. It was during their
stewardship that "Charis Hall" was built at the rear of the guest house.
Here children of the guests played games and entertained themselves in
the evenings while the hall was a popular dance venue for years.
In 1948 Mrs Joe Hewitson assumed control of the guesthouse. She had
owned and operated pubs in the UK and also owned the Queenscliff Hotel
and the Pacific Hotel in Lorne.
In 1981 the brick extension was built where Charis Hall had stood. Since
then the backyard has been landscaped and a pool, tennis court and games
room (now the guest kitchen) added.
In 2000 the historic property was scheduled for demolition and
re-development when the present owner Andrew Cannon came to its rescue
and purchased it. Painstakingly restored, the local icon was renamed the
Point Lonsdale Guest House to distance itself from a similarly named
business in Geelong - The Terminus Strip Club!