Maatsuyker Island lighthouse

Tasmania's Lighthouses



Iron Pot lighthouse


For nearly two hundred years the Iron Pot Lighthouse at South Arm has welcomed sailors to the mouth of the Derwent River. The structure was built following a request by Governor Arthur who, in 1830, suggested to the Hobart Port Control that a lighthouse be established due to the wreck of the colonial trading ship 'Hope' in 1827. The Hope was wrecked opposite Bruny Island on the beach which now bears its name and soon became legendary as stories of the lost treasure onboard spread far and wide.




Cape Wickham lighthouse


At 48 metres, the majestic Cape Wickham Lighthouse is Australia's tallest lighthouse, as well as the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere. Standing at the northern tip of King Island in Bass Strait, it marks the southern end of the "Eye of the Needle," the dangerous 84 km wide western entrance to Bass Strait through which ships must pass to get to Melbourne. The northern end of this entrance is Cape Otway, Victoria. The lighthouse tower is constructed of local stone, with walls 3.4 metres thick at the base. It has eleven flights of stairs each of 20 steps. Erected in 1861, the light was automated in 1918, replacing the original single wick oil burner with an acetylene flasher.




Cape Bruny Lighthouse


The Cape Bruny Lighthouse, located on the south-western edge of the cape on South Bruny Island, is the third oldest Commonwealth lightstation in Australia and the oldest continuous lighthouse tower in Australia under Commonwealth control. In 1835, three ships were wrecked in D'Entrecasteaux Channel. This lead to action and the lighthouse was established in 1838, three years after the wrecks. The 13 metre high tower was designed by colonial architect John Lee Archer and was built by convict labour. It was the third tower to be built in Tasmania after Iron Pot and the first Low Head Tower (replaced in 1888). The lighthouse has been a popular sightseeing and picnic destination since its erection. Visitors originally came by private yacht, steam launches and ferries.



Bonnet Island lighthouse

Hell's Gate Lighthouses


The Entrance Island and Bonnet Island lighthouses stand at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, a huge inland sea on Tasmania's west coast. The Entrance Island light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in Tasmania, guards the notoriously shallow and dangerous 120 metre wide channel entrance to the harbour, known as Hell's Gate. The name of the channel relates to the original convicts' claim that it was their point of 'entrance to Hell', their Hell being the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island and the outlying surrounds of the harbour.



Entrance Island lighthouse

In the 1890's the discovery of silver and lead at Zeehan greatly increased the traffic entering the harbour. Works taken to improve the entrance included the building of a breakwater and the lighthouses.




Deal Island Lighthouse


With an elevation of 305 metres, the Deal Island Lighthouse is Australia's highest. Its tower is not very high (22 metres), but its location high above the island s cliffs gives it its elevation. The lighthouse is in fact so high that at times it has been unable to function adequately as its light is often shrouded in mist. Built of local granite in 1846, it is starting to deteriorate as no maintenance has been carried out since it was deactivated and demanned in 1992. One of the lighthouse keeper's cottages houses a museum.

A world away from modern life, Deal Island is Tasmania's most remote national park. There are no mod-cons here, and the phone and TV only work when the wind blows in the right direction. The island has a resident population of two - volunteers who come to spend three month-long stints weeding and looking after its spectacular natural heritage - who are joined by boaties and fishermen who visit the island from time to time.



Table Cape lighthouse


Located at one of Tasmania's most picturesque coastal spots, this lighthouse sits on the edge of a spectacular flat topped promontory with a sheer drop to the sea. The lighthouse was built in the 1880s to assist in the control of shipping in the area. The design was by Huckson and Hutchinson of Hobart and built by a local builder, Mr. John Luck. The bricks came from Victoria as ballast.

The cliffs of Table Cape near the lighthouse offer expansive views across Wynyard, the coast beyond it and the vast expanse of Bass Strait. On a fine day the view extends beyond the Dial Range to Low Head and the Asbestos Range. Inland, it is possible to see St Valentines Peak, Black Bluff and Mount Roland. The lighthouse is open for tours from mid September until May; bookings are essential.




Eddystone Point lighthouse


The striking pink granite tower of the Eddystone Point lighthouse was built on a point that juts out into the sea in 1889 in response to many north bound ships being wrecked by coming in too close to the northeast coast of Tasmania. The lighthouse is in the Mount William National Park at the northern end of the Bay of Fires. It can be reached by unsealed roads from St Helens or Gladstone (32 km).




Mersey Bluff Lighthouse


The Mersey Bluff Lighthouse, standing at the mouth of the Mersey River near Devonport, is a familiar and welcome sight for travellers on the Spirit of Tasmania ferries as it guides these and other Trans-Bass Strait ships towards Devonport Harbour. Built of bricks on a stone base in 1889, it has a distinctive look with its day mark of vertical red stripes on a white background.




Tasman Island Light


The Tasman Island Lighthouse on Tasman Island was built in 1906, and is one of the highest in Australia (230 metres above sea level). When the light was first established, the winds were so fierce that the steel tower would shudder, fracturing the lamps mantles and putting the light out.

For the lighthouse keepers it was one of the most isolated lighthouses in Australia and the most difficult to reach. Lightkeepers' stores and other goods had to be transferred from the lighthouse steamer to a launch, then a flying fox (a conveyor suspended from an overhead wire), then hauled up a steep tramline up a cliff, before being transferred to a horse-drawn tramway to the lighthouse.




Holloway Point Lighthouse


Not the most exciting looking lighthouse in the world, Holloway Point Light on Flinders Island was erected in 1967. It stands 4 metres tall. Flinders Island is the main island of the Furneaux group, a collection of 52 islands that stretch across Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. North East River and Holloway Point are renowned salmon fishing hot spots.




Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse


Australia's most southerly lighthouse is situated on the southern tip of the island. It was completed in 1891 at a cost of £8,500. All the materials were brought from Hobart and hauled up a steep horse powered tramway at Haulage Cove, on the relatively sheltered east side of the island. Haulage Cove is the only place where a safe landing may be made on the island, and even this is subject to weather conditions. The Lighthouse overlooks a string of islands called the Needles. The island is named after Joan Maetsuijker, a member of the Council of Batavia who had sponsored the expeditions of its discoverer, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman.

Maatsuyker Island is located approximately 10 km off the south coast of Tasmania and is the second largest island in the Maatsuyker Group. It is 3 km long and 1.5 km wide at its widest point and covers 180 hectares. Maatsuyker Island is lashed by the unobstructed force of the Roaring Forties coming across the Southern Ocean from as far away as Africa. The island has an average of 250 rain days each year, with an annual average rainfall of 1.2 metres. The lighthouse's keepers log book from 1907 has this interesting entry: "Five days continuously without rain this month". There is a constant gale blowing across the island with winds averaging 50-60 knots. The highest recorded speed is 112 knots though it believed it get much higher in a storm. This cannot be proved, however, as every time attempts have been made to record it, the equipment has failed to survive the storm.




Low Head Lighthouse


Low Head Lighthouse is around 7 kilometres north of George Town on the east side of the mouth of the Tamar River on Bass Strait. It was the third lighthouse to be constructed in Australia, the nearby pilot station is Australia's oldest continuously used station. Low Head Lighthouse is now unmanned and automated.

The original tower, 15.25 metres high, was known as the Georgetown Station. Designed by Colonial Architect John Lee Archer, who was responsible for the design of many other Tasmanian lights. It was demolished in 1888 and replaced with the present double brick structure with a new lantern room and apparatus, designed by Marine Board architect Robert Huckson.

Why We Love Lighthouses


No one quite knows why but many people have a fascination for lighthouses. Every photographer has at least one dramatic shot of a lighthouse in his/her collection. Tourists love climbing them, in part for the view but perhaps also because they hold a strange fascination like no other man made structure. It could be that they represent something we all need, a light to guide us, a sentinel pointing the way in the middle of the storm. And when the storm blows away the lighthouse is still standing, silently awaiting the next storm when again it will shed its light, save a life and point he way.


Cape Bruny Light

Australia is an island continent with an area of 7,682,300 square kilometres, or around 5.7% of the land surface of the earth. The coastline is 36,735 kilometres long, of which 2,833 km is in Tasmania. The state has 25 major lighthouses that were an integral part of this island's rugged scenic coastline from the earliest days of settlement. Some of Australia's most isolated lights are in this state. Australia's second oldest lighthouse, Iron Pot built in 1832, is located just off Tasmania's capital city, Hobart.

This is not a large number of lights for such a long coastline but then a large proportion of it is unpopulated and rarely visited by shipping. As is the case in most countries, there are no longer any manned lighthouses in Australia. The last was Maatsuyker Island in Tasmania and it was de-manned in December 1995.