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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania

National Archives holdings about Tasmanian lighthouses

Members of staff previously employed by Tasmania’s Marine Board were given the choice of transferring to Commonwealth employment, and all but one (in poor health and near retirement) did so. The records came too, for reasons to do with business continuity. Nevertheless, it requires a slight counterintuitiveness to accept that records held by the Commonwealth, which only existed from 1901, might include, for example, meteorological observations recorded at Cape Bruny in 1875.

The National Archives has extensive documentation on Tasmania’s lighthouses and similar facilities. In summary, the records relate to policy and high-level matters, administration of the district and later the region that included Tasmania, and specific located facilities. The most succinct idea of what is held can be gained from consulting the National Archives’ Fact sheet 122 – Lighthouse records held in Hobart, available at

Finally, reflecting the growing interest in lighthouses from historical, heritage, human interest and other angles, there is a large amount of information on the internet. Of the many monographs, journal articles and Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers also available, Kathleen Stanley’s book Guiding Lights: Tasmania’s lighthouses and lighthousemen (St David’s Park Publishing, 1991) remains the best singlevolume study of the subject, not least as she made good use of relevant Commonwealth records. Although since the late 1990s, none are staffed any longer by onsite keepers, Tasmania’s lighthouses have never lost their fascination and relevance to navigation, science, the environment and now tourism, nor indeed to creative literature as Canberra author Karen Viggers has shown with The Lightkeeper’s Wife (Allen & Unwin, 2011).


Chapter 5