Skip to content | Skip to document navigation

Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania


Specific lighthouses

Cape Bruny

Cape Bruny lighthouse (CA 2539, 1838–1996) has been referred to variously as the South Bruni, Cape Bruni and Cape Bruny lighthouse. It began as the South Bruni light erected at the south-western end of Bruny Island at the entrance to the D'Entrecasteaux Channel in 1838. In 1915, when its staff became Commonwealth employees, it was operated by AF King (head lighthouse keeper) and assistant lighthouse keepers RJ Johnston and J Creese. Cape Bruny was decommissioned in August 1996 and a new automated light installed.

Selected series relating to Cape Bruny Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Meteorological observations at Cape Bruny lighthouse, 1875–86 P1192
Lightstation log books, 1882–1965 P783
Journal of weather reports and tasks performed for the lighthouse at Cape Bruny, 1886–1917 P1190
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Cape Bruny, 1918–62 P1116
Monthly returns of weather, watches etc. for the lightstation at Cape Bruny, 1918–62 P1119
Miscellaneous returns for Cape Bruny lighthouse, 1919–62 P1114
Monthly record of fog experienced at Cape Bruny lighthouse, 1919–62 P1117
Monthly records of vessels passing Cape Bruny lighthouse station, 1919–62 P1118
Annual returns of equipment for the lightstation at Cape Bruny, 1922–55 P1115
Wireless log books for the lighthouse at Cape Bruny, 1930–62 P1193
Visitors book for Cape Bruny lighthouse, 1957–67 P1191
Reports: watches kept and duties performed, 1962– P1603

Cape Forestier

Cape Forestier lighthouse was established at Lemon Rock on the Freycinet Peninsula, and replaced by an automatic light at nearby Cape Tourville in 1971.

Selected items relating to Cape Forestier Lighthouse
National Archives, Canberra
Lighthouses – Cape Forestier, 1923 A457, V202/1
National Archives, Hobart
Cape Forestier lighthouse – quarterly inspection reports, 1916–60 P1130, 22/0021
Cape Forestier lighthouse – quarterly inspection reports, 1916–60 P1130, 32/0064
Cape Forestier lighthouse [Tasmania] – quarterly inspection reports, 1920–21 P1130, 21/0006
Cape Forestier Lighthouse – quarterly inspection reports, 1921 P1130, 21/0007

Cape Sorell

Though there were earlier lighthouses at 'Hells Gates', increased traffic due to the discovery of silver and lead at Zeehan resulted in the Cape Sorell lighthouse being erected at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, on the west coast of Tasmania, in 1899 (1899–1971, CA 2545). By 1915, it was operated by head lighthouse keeper C Bennett and assistant lighthouse keepers A Davis and EW Russell. Cape Sorell went automatic in 1971.

Selected series relating to Cape Sorell Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Miscellaneous returns, 1899–1963 P1594
Stores book, 1902–71 P1595
Lightstation log books, 1917–71 P782
Visitors book, 1918–71 P775
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Cape Sorell, 1918–62 P1149
Monthly returns of weather, watches etc. for the lightstation at Cape Sorell, 1919–62 P1152
Monthly records of vessels passing Cape Sorell lighthouse station, 1919–62 P1150
Monthly record of fog experienced at Cape Sorell lighthouse, 1921–62 P1151
Telegram book, 1922–71 P1593
Miscellaneous returns for Cape Sorell lighthouse, 1925–62 P1148

Cape Wickham

Cape Wickham lightstation (CA 8014, 1861–1918) was situated at the northern end of King Island, guarding the western approach into Bass Strait. It began operating in November 1861. The Lighthouses of Australia Inc. website explains that, 'It was Australia's largest maritime disaster, the wrecking of the Cataraqui with losses of 402 lives in 1845, that eventually led to the establishment of Cape Wickham. An earlier loss of the Neva with 225 lives, mainly convict women and children in 1835, had brought no reaction from authorities'. The lightstation was automated in 1918 and de-manned in 1921.

Selected series relating to Cape Wickham Lighthouse
National Archives, Melbourne
Currie Harbour and Cape Wickham – monthly account of petrol, 1954–56 MP344/14, NN
National Archives, Hobart
Lightstation journals, Cape Wickham [King Island, Tasmania], 1861–1918 P2426
Cape Wickham lighthouse, Tasmania, marine radiobeacon network, Western Bass Strait, 1941 P2347, CAPE WICKHAM
Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Tasmania – journal of Cape Wickham lighthouse, 1880–82 P2426, AMSA1880
Full names of the Low Head and Cape Wickham lighthouse keepers, 1913 P437, 1913/1080
National Archives, Canberra
Lighthouse Reserve, Cape Wickham, King Island, Tasmania – evidence to prove Commonwealth ownership, 1956–57 A432, 1956/221

Circular Head (Highfield Point)

The Highfield Point lighthouse now sits on farmland just north of Stanley. It replaced the Circular Head lighthouse, which was established in 1924, and later relocated to the wharf area of Stanley and attended once a week by the Harbour Master.

Selected items relating to Circular Head (Highfield Point) lighthouse
National Archives, Canberra
Land and property – lighthouses, Emu Bay and Circular Head, 1925–27 A458, H356/7
Highfield Point lightstation – photographs of operations and maintenance, 1970–90 P2812, 8
National Archives, Hobart
Circular Head lighthouse – maintenance of, 1916–60 P1130, 22/0032
Circular Head lighthouse – supply of carbide, 1919–23 P1130, 20/0048

Currie Harbour

The Currie Harbour lighthouse (CA 2543, 1880–1988) was erected on King Island in Bass Strait, and began operating in 1880 with costs shared between Tasmania and Victoria. With Cape Otway on the Victorian coast to the north it forms the 'eye of the needle' through which shipping has to navigate King Island's coastline, which has claimed at least 60 vessels and more than 800 lives during the past 180 years. In 1915, when the Commonwealth took over, its head lighthouse keeper was J McGuire and assistant lighthouse keeper E Garner. The lighthouse was decommissioned in December 1988 when a new automated light was commissioned.

Selected series relating to Currie Harbour Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Currie Harbour, 1918–41 P1144
Monthly record of vessels passing Currie Harbour lighthouse station, 1919–37 P1146
Monthly record of fog experienced at Currie Harbour lighthouse, 1919–41 P1145
Lightstation journals and monthly returns, Currie Harbour, 1880–88 P1147
Annual returns of equipment for the lightstation at Currie Harbour, 1922–34 P1143
National Archives, Melbourne
Monthly return of weather, watches, etc. – Currie Harbour, 1941–53 MP344/11
Report of watches kept and duties performed – Currie Harbour, 1944–55 MP433/10
Monthly account of petrol – Currie Harbour, 1944–56 MP344/14

Deal Island

Image 9: Drawing and ground floor plans of Low Head, South Bruni, Deal Island, Swan Island and Goose Island lighthouses, c.1848

Image 9: Drawing and ground floor plans of Low Head, South Bruni, Deal Island, Swan Island and Goose Island lighthouses, c.1848
NAA: A9568, 5/10/1
Enlarge image - View image gallery

The Deal Island (Kent Group) lighthouse (CA 2542, 1846–1992) was erected in 1846 on the summit of Deal Island in Bass Strait. The cost was shared among the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and Van Diemen's Land/Tasmania, although it remained administratively with the latter. When the Commonwealth took over the lighthouse in 1915, it was run by head lighthouse keeper C Hemsley with assistant lighthouse keepers WHS Furness, LB Johnston and HJ Nas. Their successors operated the lighthouse until it was automated in early 1992.

Selected series relating to Deal Island Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Monthly records of vessels passing Deal Island lighthouse station, 1919–30 P1172
Monthly returns of weather, watches, etc. for the lightstation, 1919–30 P1171
Monthly record of fog experienced at Deal Island lighthouse, 1920–30 P1173
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Deal Island, 1920–30 P1170
Annual returns of equipment for the lightstation at Deal Island, 1922–34 P1169
Lightstation log books, 1920–92 P1113
National Archives, Melbourne
Deal Island and Cape Everard, 1941–55 MP344/11, BOX 3
Report of watches kept and duties performed – Deal Island from month of January 1944 to work ending 31 December 1945, 1944–45 MP344/10
Deal Island – monthly account of petrol, 1939–56 MP344/14

Derwent Light (Iron Pot)

The Iron Pot was Tasmania's earliest lighthouse, beginning as a wooden structure which began operation at the mouth of the Derwent River in 1832. It was transferred back to Tasmania in the 1920s, but continued to be operated by the Commonwealth as an automated facility, eventually in the 1970s using solar energy.

Selected items relating to Derwent Light (Iron Pot) Lighthouse
National Archives, Canberra
Lighthouses – Derwent light, 1924–25 A461, F359/1
Stations Hobart Port Huon Wharf transfer of Derwent light proclamation of limits of Port of Hobart, 1924–39 A425, 1939/4133
Derwent lighthouse [Iron Pot lighthouse] – light keepers quarters, 1885 A9568, 5/11/1
Plan of repairs to Derwent lightstation for Marine Board of Hobart [Iron Pot] [Stamped: Huckson and Hutchison, Hydraulic Engineers, Architects and Appraisers], 1895 A9568, 5/11/5
National Archives, Hobart
Derwent lighthouse – quarterly inspection reports, 1922 P1130, 22/0015
Derwent light conversion Tasmania ironwork details, 1920 P2347, 20/365

Eddystone Point

Eddystone Point lighthouse (CA 2544, 1889–1994) on the north-east Tasmanian coast near St Helens operated from 1889. Being in Bass Strait, the Victorian Government paid half the cost of construction, agreeing to make contributions towards its maintenance. It was de-manned in March 1994.

Selected series and/or items relating to Eddystone Point Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Eddystone Point (Tasmania) lightstation log books, 1889–93 P784
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Eddystone Point, 1918–62 P1139
Monthly records of vessels passing Eddystone Point lighthouse station, 1919–62 P1142
Monthly returns of weather, watches, etc. for the lightstation at Eddystone Point, 1919–62 P1140
Monthly record of fog experienced at Eddystone Point lightstation, 1920–62 P1141
Miscellaneous returns for Eddystone Point lighthouse, 1924–62 P1138
Visitors book, 1932–93 P777
National Archives, Melbourne
Lighthouses and signal stations a) Communications to lighthouses, b) Eddystone Point lighthouse – extension telephone to tower, 1906–18 MP273/1, 1918/11293

Goose Island

The Goose Island lighthouse (CA 2541, 1846–1932), just to the west of Flinders Island, was erected in 1846 by convict labour. Like others in Bass Strait, its operating costs were shared with Victoria. When the Commonwealth took over responsibility for the lighthouse from Tasmania in 1915, its head lighthouse keeper was C Carlson and assistant lighthouse keeper JT Hague. It was one of the first to be converted to an unmanned facility, turning to an automatic light in 1932.

Selected series and/or items relating to Goose Island Lighthouse
National Archives, Canberra
Lighthouses – Goose Island – rescue of lightkeepers, 1922–23 A457, O202/1
Carlson, Carl – head lightkeeper, Goose Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania – declared at Goose Island 4 March 1919, 1919 A387, 94
Goose Island – quarterly inspection, 1931–38 B403, L37/86/1
National Archives, Melbourne
Goose Island – quarterly inspection, 1931–38 B403, L37/86/1
National Archives, Hobart
Stores book, 1896–1986 P1596
Journal of weather reports and tasks performed at Goose Island lighthouse, 1915–17 P1166
Miscellaneous returns for Goose Island lightstation, 1924–30 P1168
Monthly returns of weather, watches for the lightstation at Goose Island, 1926–30 P1167
Goose Island, Tasmania, external cover for ventilator to Commonwealth Lighthouse Service drawing 16/401, 1969 P2347, GOOSE ISLAND
Arthur Frederick Chilcott – Goose Island lightkeeper – fatality, 1922 P437, 1922/712

Hunter Island and Three Hummock Island

The Commonwealth Lighthouse Service, part of the Department of Shipping and Transport, completed construction of a lighthouse on Three Hummock Island in June 1924. It was destroyed by a bushfire in 1963. An automated lighthouse has operated since 1971. The original lighthouse on Hunter Island was also built in 1924 and replaced in 1983.

Selected series relating to Hunter Island and Three Hummock Island Lighthouses
National Archives, Canberra
Lighthouses – Hunter Island and Three Hummock Island, Tasmania, 1923–24 A461, A359/1
National Archives, Brisbane
Three Hummocks and Hunter Island – lighting conductor installation, 1939 A10182, CN 15 035
National Archives, Sydney
Tasmanian surveys and site plans – Three Hummock Island – Australian Tele Communications Commission – Radio Telephone Station – Aerodrome – level grid, 1974–97 P2699, XL277/004
Tasmanian surveys and site plans – Three Hummock Island – Australian Tele Communications Commission – Radio Telephone Station – Aerodrome – contour overlay, 1974–97 P2699, XL277/005
Tasmanian surveys and site plans – Three Hummock Island – Australian Tele Communications Commission – Radio Telephone Station – longitudinal section – access road, 1974–97 P2699, XL277/006
Tasmanian surveys and site plans – Three Hummock Island – Australian Tele Communications Commission – Radio Telephone Station – cross sections – access road, 1974–97 P2699, XL277/007

Low Head

Low Head lighthouse (CA 2538, 1833–1994), at the entrance to the Tamar River, was one of Tasmania's earliest established lighthouses. At the time the Commonwealth assumed control, the head lighthouse keeper was WA Campbell and the assistant lighthouse keepers were JE McCallum and HJ Bell. It was de-manned in July 1994.

Selected series and/or items relating to Low Head Lighthouse
National Archives, Canberra
Design for a lighthouse on Low Head at entrance to Tamar River, 1833 A9568, 5/5/1
Lighthouses – Low Head lighthouse, 1941 A461, AB359/1
Details Low Head Lighthouse [Tamar River], 1888 A9568, 5/5/4
National Archives, Brisbane
Low Head – quarters new site plan, 1941 A10182, CN 16 135
National Archives, Sydney
Architectural drawing – lighthouse station, Low Head, Tasmania – new quarters, showing elevations, sections, ground and block plans and details, 1941 P244, X 36
National Archives, Hobart
Books containing copies of monthly returns of oil, cotton wick, chimneys, expected at Low Head lighthouse, 1886–1903 P1154
Journals of weather reports and tasks performed for Low Head lightstation, 1886–1916 P1153
Stores book for the lighthouse at Low Head, 1896–1926 P1155
Ledger of equipment, tools and non-consumable stores, 1915–94 P1597
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Low Head, 1918–62 P1157
Monthly returns of weather, watches for the lightstation at Low Head, 1919–62 P1158
Monthly records of vessels passing Low Head lighthouse station, 1919–62 P1159
Monthly record of fog experienced at Low Head lighthouse, 1920–62 P1160
Miscellaneous returns for Low Head lightstation, 1922–62 P1156
Lightstation log books, 1937–91 P786
Architectural drawing – telegraph station, Low Head, Tasmania – showing front and back elevations, plan and sections, 1859 P1715, LOWHEAD1
Low Head lighthouse and pilot station telephone facilities, 1915–16 P234,1331
National Archives, Melbourne
Low Head – lighthouse station, 1833–1941 B3712, DRAWER 88 FOLDER 9
Low Head lightstation log book – 1 October 1943 to 31 December 1946, 1943–46 P786, LOW HEAD 1943-46

Maatsuyker Island

Image 10: Maatsuyker Island lighthouse, off southern Tasmania, 1977

Image 10: Maatsuyker Island lighthouse, off southern Tasmania, 1977
NAA: A6135, K1/7/77/6
Enlarge image - View image gallery

In 1891, the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse (CA 2547, 1891–1976) was erected 10 kilometres off the southern-most point of the Tasmanian coast. Its staff, on moving under Commonwealth control in 1915, were head lighthouse keeper EG Roberts and assistant lighthouse keepers GH Oakes and RE Bridger. The lighthouse was one of the last to be closed, in 1998.

Selected series relating to Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Lightstation log books, 1893–99 P781
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Maatsuyker Island, 1918–62 P1122
Monthly record of fog experienced at Maatsuyker Island lighthouse, 1919–62 P1124
Monthly record of vessels passing Maatsuyker Island lighthouse station, 1919–62 P1123
Monthly returns of weather, watches for the lightstation at Maatsuyker Island, 1919–62 P1125
Annual returns of equipment for the lightstation at Maatsuyker Island, 1924–53 P1121
Miscellaneous returns for Maatsuyker Island lighthouse, 1939–62 P1120
Ledger of equipment, tools and non-consumable stores, Maatsuyker Island, 1915–91 P2415

Mersey Bluff

The lighthouse at Mersey Bluff, at the mouth of the Mersey River just west of Devonport, was built in 1889. Electricity was connected in 1920, rendering staff unnecessary, and it has been automated ever since.

Selected series relating to Mersey Bluff Lighthouse
National Archives, Canberra
Lighthouse site, Mersey Bluff, Devonport, Tasmania, 1922 A457, D515/12
Lighthouses. Mersey Bluff, 1923–34 A461, X359/1
Mersey Bluff lightstation – photographs of operations and maintenance, 1950–90 P2812, 17
National Archives, Hobart
Mersey Bluff lightstation, Marine Board of Hobart, plan, sections and elevations, including details of stairs, 1887 P2347, MERSEY BLUFF [FOLDER 6]
Mersey Bluff lighthouse – quarterly inspection reports, 1921 P1130, 21/0006
Mersey Bluff lighthouse – quarterly reports for 1920, 1920–22 P1130, 20/0081
Mersey Bluff lighthouse – maintenance records, 1917–19 P1130, 19/0367
National Archives, Melbourne
Mersey Bluff lighthouse property, 1930–36 MP341/1, 1936/5038

Swan Island

The Swan Island lighthouse (CA 2540, 1845–1986) began operating in Bass Strait in 1845, its maintenance costs being partly funded by the Victorian Government. In 1915, at the time the Commonwealth took over responsibility, the head lighthouse keeper was J Johnson and assistant lighthouse keepers GG Freeman and WJ Williams. It was de-manned relatively early, in 1986.

Selected series and items relating to Swan Island Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Stores book, 1897–1986 P1591
Miscellaneous returns, 1902–63 P1590
Swan Island lightstation log books, 1909–86 P778
Ledger of equipment, tools and non-consumable stores, 1915–86 P1592
Monthly returns of weather, watches for the lightstation at Swan Island, 1919–62 P1136
Monthly records of vessels passing Swan Island lighthouse station, 1919–62 P1137
Visitors book, 1919–86 P1588
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Swan Island, 1920–62 P1134
Monthly record of fog experienced at Swan Island lighthouse, 1921–62 P1135
Annual returns of equipment for the lightstation at Swan Island, 1922–62 P1133
Station maintenance book, 1934–86 P1589
Miscellaneous returns for Swan Island lighthouse, 1939–63 P1132

Table Cape

A manned lighthouse operated at Table Cape on the north-west coast near Wynyard between 1888 and 1920. It still operates as an automatic beacon, producing two flashes every 10 seconds and visible up to 32 nautical miles away.

Selected items relating to Table Cape Lighthouse
National Archives, Melbourne
Table Cape – tower lantern and optical apparatus, Part 1, 1925–30 B406, L19/1
National Archives, Canberra
Table Cape lighthouse station – plan of tower [signed: R Huckson, Architect], 1887 A9568, 5/14/1
Lighthouse station, Table Cape principal quarters [signed by contractor, John Luck and dated 2 March 1887] [Hobart Marine Board], 1887 A9568, 5/14/2
Lighthouse station, Table Cape – assistant's quarters [signed by contractor, WA Seabrook, and witnessed by R Hutchison, 6 May 1899], 1899 A9568, 5/14/3
Table Cape lighthouse station – red sector, 1888 A9568, 5/14/4
National Archives, Hobart
Table Cape lighthouse – applications for permission for visitors to stay, 1916–60 P1130, 19/0112
Table Cape lighthouse – personnel matters [including leave], 1916–60 P1130, 19/0117
Table Cape lighthouse – applications – approval for visitors, 1918–19 P1130, 19/0129
Table Cape lighthouse – payment of salary of keeper, 1919–20 P1130, 19/0219
Table Cape lighthouse – quarterly reports for 1920, 1920–21 P1130, 20/0082
Table Cape lighthouse – quarterly inspection reports, 1921 P1130, 21/0005

Tasman Island

Image 11: Tasman Island lighthouse ‘pigeon message’, 1921

Image 11: Tasman Island lighthouse ‘pigeon message’, 1921
NAA: P1130/2, 21/0023
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Tasman Island lighthouse (CA 2546, 1906–76), on the Tasman Peninsula south-east of Port Arthur, began operation in 1906, though planned from the mid-1880s. A decade later, it was a Commonwealth agency managed by head lighthouse keeper WM Kirkwood and assistant lighthouse keepers HK Kemp and FA Sellers. It became an unmanned automatic light in 1976.

Selected items and series relating to Tasman Island Lighthouse
National Archives, Hobart
Lighthouse log books, 1906–67 P779
Miscellaneous returns for the lightstation at Tasman Island, 1922–60 P1161
Monthly record of fog experienced at Tasman Island lightstation, 1928–58 P1164
Quarterly returns of stores for the lightstation at Tasman Island, 1931–61 P1162
Monthly returns for weather, watches for the lightstation at Tasman Island, 1931–62 P1163
Monthly records of vessels passing Tasman Island lighthouse station, 1931–62 P1165
Weather reports for Tasman Island and Maatsuyker Island, 1935–38 P1194
Ledger of equipment, tools and non-consumable stores, Tasman Island, 1915–53 P2417

Photographs and drawings

Selected series incorporating photographs and architectural and other drawings of Tasmanian lighthouses
National Archives, Canberra
Photographs of operations and maintenance of Tasmanian lightstations, alphabetical by name of lightstation, 1935– P2812
Drawings and plans of lighthouses and of associated buildings and equipment, 1833–1968 A9568
Glass plate copy negatives of Australian coastal lighthouses, 1917– A6247
National Archives, Hobart
Drawings – Commonwealth buildings, Tasmania, 1903–32 P1715
Plans and drawings relating to Tasmanian lightstations, alphabetical (by name of lightstation) series, 1887– P2347
National Archives, Sydney
Photographs of Commonwealth buildings and sites in Tasmania, 1945–96 P2813

TOP OF PAGE

Chapter 5
Lighthouses