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

Lighthouses of Victoria


State Indexes > VIC > Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse

The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse

The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse is the most southerly lighthouse on mainland Victoria. The 18 kilometre walk is well worth it to experience its spectacular location.

Whalers Bluff Lighthouse With Portland Harbour in the Background.  Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas
The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham


Operation

LOCATION: Latitude 39° 08.0' S, Longitude 146° 25.5' E [map]
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
EXHIBITED: 1859
CONSTRUCTION: Dressed granite
CHARACTER: 0.2 second Flash every 7.5 seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: 12V Lamp
POWER SOURCE: Solar Panels
INTENSITY: 51,000 cd
ELEVATION: 117 metres
RANGE: 18 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 19 metres
AUTOMATED: 1975
DEMANNED: <<>>
DEACTIVATED: <<>>
CUSTODIAN: National Parks Victoria

Whalers Bluff Lighthouse at Dusk.  Photograph: 4C's Enterprises
Wilsons Promontory Tower c. 1885 with original lantern room
Photograph: Greg Beck

Whalers Bluff Lighthouse at Dusk.  Photograph: 4C's Enterprises
Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
Photograph: Greg Beck

Whalers Bluff Lighthouse With Portland Harbour in the Background.  Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas
Supplying the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
Photograph: AMSA

History

Wilsons Promontory marks the southern-most point of mainland Australia, and overlooks a relatively narrow shipping channel through Bass Strait between Tasmania and Victoria. The promontory was first sighted by Bass and Flinders in 1798, and was named by Governor Hunter in honour of Thomas Wilson, a merchant engaged in the Australian trade.

The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse and keepers' cottages were built by convict labourers on a 90 metre cliff on the point, over the period 1853-1859, using locally sourced granite. The works were supervised by James Balmain and Charles Maplestone of the Public Works Department, and contracted to P.S. Sinclair of North Melbourne.

The lighthouse construction cost 15,572, which was shared between the Victorian and New South Wales governments. The lantern and apparatus, sourced from J.F. Dow & Co, cost 477, 19s, 10d. This original light, a fixed catadioptric light using 32 wicks in parabolic mirrors, was replaced in 1913 by a Chance Brothers vapourised kerosene incandescent mantle.

The parabolic mirrors were replaced in 1975 by a generator-powered electric lamp array when the light was converted to electricity, which in turn was converted to solar power in 1993.

The rough circular stone tower was originally painted white. In the 1980s, the paintwork was stripped off, and the tower has been completely restored to the original stone finish. The white light, 117 metres above sea level, is visible for 25 miles.

A visitor in 1935 noted the maritime atmosphere at the lighthouse, comparing the lightstation to "a ship on dry land". Lorenzo Robertson commented:

"There is a man-o'-war's orderliness about it, a crack-liner spotlessness, a nautical routine, a personnel whose brown, brawny arms tattooed with anchors and ugly ladies indubitably proclaim them old sailormen. The interiors of the cottages had the unmistakeable ship-like smell of fresh paintwork and salt. There are pictures of ships on the walls, models of ships in cases over the mantlepieces, photographs framed in little cork lifebuoys, sea boots standing on sea chests, burnished copper jugs, neat coils of rope, sou'westers and oilskins on pegs...."

The granite buildings, whitewashed and red-roofed, reminded him of a Cornish fishing village.

There are four keepers' cottages, which were also built of local granite, with corrugated iron roofs. One of the cottages was rebuilt in 1924, and two others rebuilt in 1952 after being destroyed during a bushfire.

The lighthouse and keepers' cottages are located within the Wilsons Promontory National Park, and since demanning the cottages have become available for accommodation. However, there is no road to the lighthouse, with access to the lightstation a relatively strenuous 18 kilometre walk.


Whalers Bluff Lighthouse at Dusk.  Photograph: 4C's Enterprises
The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse lit
Photograph: Brian Lord
Whalers Bluff Lighthouse at Dusk.  Photograph: 4C's Enterprises
Denise Shultz talking with the lightstation caretaker
Photograph: Denise Shultz

Access

NEAREST TOWN: Tidal River
DISTANCE: 18 km (Tidal River)
DISTANCE : 223 km (Melbourne)
ACCESS: Walking Track
TOURS: <<>>
ACCOMMODATION: Yes

 

The Surrounding Area

Whalers Bluff Lighthouse Surrounded by a Garden.  Photograph: Greg Walker
The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
Photograph: Grant Maizels


Features

Wilsons Promontory by Sea Bulletin Feb 02
Wilsons Promontory by Land Bulletin Mar 02


Approaching the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse on the 18km walk
Photograph: Denise Shultz


News

The Geometer of the Light Bulletin Jun 02


Wilsons Promontory from the sea
Photograph: Denise Shultz

Letters

Seeking archival records for Matthew Edward Mabbitt Bulletin Apr 03
Lighthouse keepers at Wilsons Promontory Bulletin Apr 03

Whalers Bluff Lighthouse With Portland Harbour in the Background.  Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas
The Wilsons Promontory Tower
Photograph: Grant Maizels


Other Wilsons Promontory Sites

Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse Mark Higgins
Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse Grant Maizels
Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse Parks Victoria

Special Thanks to:

  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • Greg Beck for Photographs
  • Brian Lord for Photograph
  • Denise Shultz for Photograph
  • Grant Maizels for Photographs

Sources:

  • AMSA
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • Lighthouses of Victoria by Dacre Smyth
  • Lighthouses of Australia: Images from the End of an Era by John Ibbotson

Page last updated:
Page created:
19/03/05
17/05/03

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)