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Lighthouses of South Australia


State Indexes > SA > Cape Jaffa Lighthouse


The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse from the air
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse

Originally built on Margaret Brock Reef off Cape Jaffa, at the end of its service, the screw pile lighthouse was dismantled and reassembled at Kingston.


Last Operation (1973)

LOCATION: Latitude 36° 57' S; Longitude 139° 40' E (map)
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
EXHIBITED: 1872
CONSTRUCTION: Wrought and Cast Iron
CHARACTER: 0.5 sec flash every 3.75 sec
LIGHT SOURCE: Vapourised Kerosene Mantle
POWER SOURCE: Vapourised Kerosene
INTENSITY: 142,000c cd
ELEVATION: 41 Metres
RANGE: 16 Nautical Miles
HEIGHT: 41 metres
AUTOMATED: Never
DEMANNED: 1973
DEACTIVATED: 1973
CUSTODIAN: National Trust of SA - Kingston Branch

The lantern & huge lens of Cape Jaffa
Cape Jaffa's magnificent crystal lantern
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse now at Kingston
The relocated Cape Jaffa Lighthouse
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

History

Established in 1872 on Margaret Brock Reef, the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse was built to protect ships from the treacherous currents that had seen the demise of many ships in the area.

The original multi-wick oil burner was replaced by a pressurised kerosene burner in 1909. This lighting apparatus was turned off in 1973 and is believed to have been the last of its type to operate in Australia.

This type of lighthouse is known as "Wells Screw Pile" and was selected for this location because the narrow wrought iron piles offered the most resistance to the heavy seas that break across the reef.

All the parts for this lighthouse were manufactured and pre-assembled, in England then dismantled and shipped to Australia

Extreme difficulties were encountered during its construction which took 3 years instead of the proposed 1 year.

Apparently when the site was first chosen the sea and weather was unusually calm. When it came time to construct the lighthouse sea were wild and the weather rough. Early construction was washed away and sometimes the contractors could not go out for days.

Another story from Jack Loney's book of Shipwrecks on the South Australian Coast tells of some castaways reaching the lighthouse only to find it was unmanned. On reporting this the body of one of the lightkeepers was found and the other was never recovered. It was known that they got on well and were very keen on fishing. Jack Loney states that it was this tragedy the led to the decision to close the lighthouse.

On 1 April 1973, a new lighthouse at Robe was switched on and the Cape Jaffa light was extinguished. A low powered temporary beacon was attached to the tower.

The then Department of Transport had decided to dismantle the lighthouse and replace it with a beacon on the platform.

The National Trust of South Australia (Kingston Branch) successfully lobbied for the lighthouse to be re-erected at Kingston where it could be preserved as a museum to show what life was like on the platform.

Dismantling began in February 1974 and was complete by March 1975.

The reconstruction began at Kingston in June 1975 and was completed in December 1976.

The Lighthouse was officially handed over to the National Trust of South Australia (Kingston Branch) on January 1976 and now operates as a museum.

For more visit the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum Page.

 

Keepers

We need your help in compiling a list of keepers for this lighthouse. If you have any information then send it to Web Keeper.

Please include this lighthouse's name, the keepers full name and what years they were keepers. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on.

The platform on which the lighthhouse was originally located
The lighthouse in its original location off Cape Jaffa
Photograph: Ken Taylor


Preservation Issues

Historic Platform saved

In November 2005, the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Platform (Civil Liability) Bill was passed through both the Lower and Upper Houses of the South Australian Parliament, leading the way to the saving of the Cape Jaffa Platform.

AMSA, the owner and former operator of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, was advised by their insurers that they should demolish this historic platform to reduce their insurance liability. Lighthouses of Australia Inc has been following the progress of this issue since September 2001, and is pleased to have played a role in the saving of the platform.


Cape Jaffa Lighthouse platform with Australasian Gannet rookery
Photograph copyright: Robert Mock

Find out more :
Cape Jaffa Platform saved (Nov 2005)
LoA Inc SA Trip - (Jan 2005)
AMSA moves to demolish Cape Jaffa Platform again (Dec 2004)
Cape Jaffa Platform news - possible stay of execution (Apr 2004)
AMSA making another move to demolish Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Platform (Feb 2004)
The fight for Cape Jaffa continues (Jun 2003)
Margaret Brock Reef Platform in danger again (Feb 2003)
Cape Jaffa - AMSA's response (Oct 2001)
Cape Jaffa Platform under serious threat (Sep 2001)

Access

NEAREST TOWN: Kingston
DISTANCE (Kingston): 1 km
DISTANCE (Adelaide): <<>>
ACCESS: Road - The lighthouse is easily accessible being adjacent to the beach road in Kingston.
TOURS: Yes - Regular tours are conducted by the Kingston branch of the National Trust of South Australia. A tour of this light is well worth the effort.
ACCOMMODATION: No

Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum

The office and living areas in the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse tower structure have been used to create the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum that demonstrates the difficult life was for the early keepers and their families.


Interior of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse has been set up as a museum and furnished with antiques
Photograph: Steve Merson


The Surrounding Area

Looking up the steps to Cape Jaffa
The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The Cape Jaffa lantern room
Photograph: Garry Searle

Features

Cape Jaffa 30th Anniversary celebrations Bulletin Jan/Feb 06
LoA Inc SA Trip Bulletin Jan/Feb 05
Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 1 Bulletin Aug 02


Family members of John Barnett, who donated the land on which the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse was 
reconstructed, unveil the plaque in his honour, at the 30th Anniversary celebrations in January 2006.
Photograph: Garry Searle


News

Demolition of Cape Jaffa Platform see above
Cape Jaffa Memorial and Book Bulletin May 02

Other Cape Jaffa Sites

The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse National Trust
The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Maizels
The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Garry Searle

Special Thanks to:

  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
  • Ken Taylor for Historical Photograph
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • Garry Searle for Photographs
  • Robert Mock for Photograph
  • Steve Merson for Photograph

Sources:

  • Alison Downing
  • AMSA
  • Brian Lord
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • Ken Taylor
  • Lighthouses of South Australia by R Parsons
  • National Trust of SA (Kingston Branch)
  • The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Story by Verne McLaren

Page last updated:
Page created:
18/02/06
29/04/98

Site constructed by: 
Malcolm S Macdonald t/as Lighthouse Computer Training & Development (1997-2001)
Copyright All rights reserved.
1997-2001 Malcolm S Macdonald and individual contributors as acknowledged.
2002-2007 Lighthouses of Australia Inc (LoA Inc) and individual contributors as acknowledged. & Lighthouses of Australia Inc (2002-2007)