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Lighthouses of Victoria


State Indexes > VIC > Cliffy Island Lighthouse

The Cliffy Island Lighthouse

"We never got bored always plenty to do, with light watches, maintenance, weather reports ..."

Terry Kilpatrick, Last Headkeeper.

The Cliffy Island Lighthouse and former walled keepers compound [Photograph: AMSA]
The Cliffy Island Lighthouse and former walled keepers compound
Photograph: AMSA


Operation

LOCATION: Latitude 38° 57.2' S, longitude 146° 42.4 E [map]
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
EXHIBITED: 1884
CONSTRUCTION: Granite
CHARACTER: Flash every 5 seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: 12v lamp
POWER SOURCE: Solar Panels; Battery Standby
INTENSITY: 15,300 cd
ELEVATION: 52 metres
RANGE: 19 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 12 metres
AUTOMATED: 1971
DEMANNED: 1971
DEACTIVATED: <<>>
CUSTODIAN: Victorian Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

Cliffy Island is a "knob" of granite - the peak of a submerged mountain - with almost sheer sides [Photograph: AMSA]
Cliffy Island is a knob of granite - the peak of a submerged mountain - with almost sheer sides
Photograph: AMSA


History

The Cliffy Island Lighthouse was built by the Victorian State Government in 1884 from locally hewn granite.

Not much is known of the difficulties the original builders of then light encountered with difficult access and in such a hostile environment.

As the for the keepers the sides of the island were particularly steep so when supplies were landed they had to be first hauled up vertically then swung in to the land stage. They were then hauled another 350 metres along a cable railway to the lighthouse.

When landing the men and their families it was common practice to lower the whole boat down into the water. On its return, the boat, would be hooked onto a sling and raised 25 metres with its human cargo up the side of the cliff and onto the landing.

The keepers were accommodated in weather board and fibro cement cottages, the construction of which seemed at odds with the harshness of the environment.

The original stone cottages were destroyed by fire in 1919 and replaced by the weatherboard cottage transferred from Citadel Island in 1921 and a new brick cottage in 1927.

In 1885 the 400 ton Swedish barque 'Lune' struck a reef on the eastern side of the island, broke up and slid into deep water just off the island.

Radio telephone was installed in 1926 and was for communication with the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse.

Supplies and mail were brought in weekly on a coastal steamer with the Lighthouse Services own vessel visiting 4 times a year for servicing the lighthouse.

The Cliffy Island Lighthouse [Photograph: AMSA]
The Cliffy Island Lighthouse
Photograph: AMSA

The initial apparatus was powered by an oil wick burner that was upgraded to flashing in 1904. It was again upgraded in power in 1923 it would have been converted to the pressurised kerosene apparatus that was in place until 1971.

The lightstation was converted to automatic and demanned in 1971. The cottages were demolished and burned and only dry stone wall remain as a reminder of the keepers presence.

The light was converted to solar operation in 1989.

In 1995 the island was handed over to the Victorian Department of Conservation & Natural Resources with AMSA retaining a lease over the lighthouse tower.


The Cliffy Island Lighthouse. Note the protective wall in front of the lighthouse door [Photograph: AMSA]
The Cliffy Island Lighthouse. Note the protective wall in front of the lighthouse door
Photograph: AMSA


Access

NEAREST TOWN: Port Albert
DISTANCE (Port Albert): 32 kms
DISTANCE (Melbourne): <<>>
ACCESS:

Access is particularly difficult and could now only realistically be achieved by helicopter.

TOURS: No
ACCOMMODATION: No

The Cliffy Island Lighthouse and keepers compound from the air [Photograph: AMSA]
The Cliffy Island Lighthouse and keepers compound from the air
Photograph: AMSA


The Surrounding Area

 
The Cliffy Island Lighthouse from the air
Photograph: Winsome Bonham


Features

Being a Lighthouse Kid Bulletin Feb 03

Special Thanks to:

  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority for Photographs

  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph

Sources:

  • Brian Lord
  • Diving Australia by Peter Stone
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • The Lighthouses of Victoria by Dacre Smyth
  • The Melbourne Truth

Page last updated:
Page created:
14/05/03
29/09/99

Site constructed by: 
Malcolm S Macdonald t/as Lighthouse Computer Training & Development (1997-2001)
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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)