Lighthouses of Australia Inc
Home State Indexes Bulletin About LoA Membership Resources & Links Contact LoA Search Sitemap

Lighthouses of Tasmania


State Indexes > TAS > Table Cape Lighthouse

The Table Cape Lighthouse

The Table Cape Lighthouse is set on a sheer cliff edge surrounded by scenic farmlands.

Its beginning was marked with the tragic death of the headkeeper's 14 month old son.

Table Cape Lighthouse on the scenic north west coast of Tasmania [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
Table Cape Lighthouse on the scenic north west coast of Tasmania
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


Operation

LOCATION: Latitude 40 56.9' S, Longitude 145 43.8' E (Map)
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
CHARACTER: Flashing (2) in 10 seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: 1000 Watt 120v, Tungsten Halogen
POWER SOURCE: Mains Electricity, Battery Standby
INTENSITY: White 69,000 cd; Red 11,000 cd
ELEVATION: 180 Metres
RANGE: 32 Nautical Miles
HEIGHT: 25 Metres

The Table Cape Lighthouse is set at the edge of beautiful farmland [Photograph: Brian Lord]
The Table Cape Lighthouse is set at the edge of beautiful farmland
Photograph: Brian Lord

Young Tasmanians and the lighthouse. Table Cape N.W.C. Tas [Postcard Courtesy: AMSA, Publisher: Wynyard Print]
Young Tasmanians and the lighthouse, Table Cape N.W.C. Tas
Postcard courtesy: AMSA, Publisher: Wynyard Print


The Table Cape Lighthouse near Wynyard [Photograph: Brian Lord]
The Table Cape Lighthouse near Wynyard
Photograph: Brian Lord

The headkeeper's infant son died within three weeks of the light's opening [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The headkeeper's infant son died within three weeks of the light's opening
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

History

Table Cape area first settled and developed by the Van Dieman's Land Company in the 1820's.

A marine board was established for the nearby Port of Wynyard in 1868. The port had grown during the 1850' to cope with the burgeoning timber trade.

Mr C.B.M. Fenton, a former mariner, kept a light burning in the front window of his house to guide mariners during the night.

The board established two iron beacons at the mouth of the Inglis River in 1870. These were constructed by Mr William Peart, who later became Harbour Master.

After several shipping incidents in the area, Table Cape was examined by Mr J.C. Climie, a railway engineer, for its suitability for a lighthouse.

Table Cape is a spectacular flat topped promontory with a sheer drop to the sea.

Construction began and the tower and cottages were completed and in service in 1888. The tower was constructed of brick then, painted white. It has a circular steel stairway and a steel fly-over gangway to the door which is set above the below ground level base. The keeper's cottages were built of stone.

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.

Materials were brought to the site, from Wynyard 7 kilometres to the south, by bullock wagon.

Less than three weeks after the opening of the light the headkeeper's son, Bertie died at the age of 14 months.

The cause is not known, but it is the cause of a sad entry in the lighthouse log book.

"Wind south. A strong breeze and misty weather. Employed in the lighthouse and cleaning up about station. At 5.10 p.m.

Bertie Jackson, son of the head lightkeeper, departed this life aged one year and two months."

The undertaker struggled up from Wynyard on horse back with the small casket and after consultation with the clergy recommended that Bertie be buried near the lighthouse were his family could tend to his grave.

He was placed in a grave marked by a fuchsia bush. The bush has long since disappeared, but locals who knew the place have recently constructed a memorial.


The light was originally powered by an oil burner and had to be manually tendered.

Bertram Jackson (the younger), son of first keeper Robert Jackson remembers those days:

"The lamp had to be lit every day, as soon as the sun dipped into the sea, and it had to be kept alight all the time until the sun rose again.

There were always three of them as I remember it, and they each took a turn to watch the light.

They used a special oil called mineral colza, which used to be carted up in big drums by bullock wagon.

It was a very clear, white light, and better than kerosene because it caused less soot."

He went on to state that by day, the keepers used to pull heavy curtains round the light house windows, to protect the reflecting lenses from damage by the sun.

The light was converted to vapourised kerosene in around 1913. At this time the manning was reduced from three to two keepers.

Converted to automatic acetylene operation in 1920, the lightkeepers were withdrawn in 1923.

The cottages were demolished in 1926 due to rapid deterioration.

In 1979 major works were undertaken. The lantern room was rebuilt and mains electricity was connected with an electric lamp and standby battery bank being installed.

The unsusual trench and bridge is a feature of Table Cape [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The unusual trench and bridge is a feature of Table Cape
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The acetylene flasher powered Table Cape from 1920 to 1979 [Photograph: AMSA]
The acetylene flasher powered Table Cape from 1920 to 1979
Photograph: AMSA


The 240v Lamp Apparatus installed 1979 [Photograph: AMSA]
The 240v Lamp Apparatus installed 1979
Photograph: AMSA

The rebuilding of the lantern room (1979) [Photograph: AMSA]
The rebuilding of the lantern room (1979)
Photograph: AMSA



The Table Cape Lighthouse is built into a deep trench on the hillside
Photograph: Pauline O'Brien


Access

The lighthouse reserve is open to the public. There is a good viewing area about a kilometre to the east. There are no tours.

From Wynyard follow the signs north towards the Cape along windy narrow sealed country lanes. Once on the Cape the road turns to gravel. The distance is 7 kilometres.

 

Features

Table Cape Lighthouse Breakfast Bulletin Oct 04


The grounds around the Table Cape Lighthouse are used 
for a breakfast function during the annual Wynyard Tulip Festival
Photograph: Alwyn Friedersdorff


News

News from Table Cape Lighthouse Bulletin Jan 05

The Surrounding Area


Aerial view of the Table Cape Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham


Special Thanks to:

  • Alwyn Friedersdorff for Photograph
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Tas Branch)
  • Brian Lord
  • Deborah Taylor
  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
  • Pauline O'Brien for Photograph
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • Wynyard Visitor Information Centre

Sources:

  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
  • Brian Lord
  • Guiding Lights by Kathleen Stanley
  • Magery Godfrey, The Advocate Weekend Magazine
  • Wynyard Visitor Information Centre Brochure
  • Wynyard Print

Page last updated:
Page created:
26/06/99
26/06/99

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)