SA Government LogoState Library of South Australia logoWooden Walls and Iron Sides heading
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future




Shipwrecks and sea rescue: Lighthouses - Twentieth century

Twentieth century lights

Meanwhile in 1905 a light was erected at Cape Donington to cover Port Lincoln, and in 1909 two other lighthouses on Kangaroo Island were erected at Cape du Couedic (1909) and Cape St Albans (1908) near Penneshaw. The Cape du Couedic light was built from stone quarried from the cliff on which it stood, and a flying fox operated to carry supplies up from a ship moored below.

Change came, when in 1915 the Commonwealth government took over the lights and navigational aids (except those in ports and rivers). The Lighthouse Act of 1911 empowered this.

New lighthouses in South Australia were built during the 1960s to 1990s. Marino Rocks light is referred to above; a light was built at Cape Bauer near Streaky Bay in 1964 - these supplemented a number of small lights on offshore islands. Cape Spencer on the foot of Yorke Peninsula had a lighthouse in 1950, but this was replaced in 1975 by a square concrete tower. It overlooks the Althorpe Islands and the entrance to Spencer Gulf.

Another light on lower Yorke Peninsula is West Cape - this is a stainless steel tower and was built in 1980. Also in 1980 on Yorke Peninsula a lighthouse was erected on Troubridge Hill, near Edithburgh. This replaced the light on Troubridge Island.

Minor lights were built on Taylor Island, near Port Lincoln (1982), Thistle Island (1983), and in 1990 a concrete tower light was built on Wedge Island to replace an earlier lighthouse erected in 1911. Dangerous Reef near Port Lincoln also had a new light in 1988, to replace one built in 1911.

Perhaps the most unusually positioned lighthouse in Australia is at Point Malcolm - Australia's only inland lighthouse. Built in 1878 at the height of the paddlesteamer trade it is on Lake Alexandrina. A light was also placed on Milang jetty, and later lights were placed at Point Sturt, Point Pomanda and Mundoo Island. These all ceased to function in late 1931, but Point Malcolm has now adjacent to it, a light on a pole to provide guidance for recreational traffic.

All lighthouses were progressively demanned and automated. Regular servicing and maintenance still needs to be carried out and helicopters are more frequently used for remote and island lights, generally operating from seagoing tenders.

Other navigational aids

There are other navigational aids on South Australia's coast that are not lighthouses. The best known are the Time Ball tower at Semaphore, and the Obelisk on Cape Dombey near Robe. The red and white stripped obelisk, originally erected in 1885 still serves as a useful maritime marker. Another obelisk is atop Freeman Knob at Port Elliot. This was erected in 1852 and flew a blue flag at times when the channel to the port was considered unsafe.

The Time Ball tower was built in 1875. It enabled ships' captains to check the rate on their chronometers, vital for safe navigation. Every day at 12.55 pm the duty signalman hoisted a black ball halfway up the mast on the tower, hoisting it to the top at 12.57 pm. Exactly at 1pm a button was pressed at the Observatory in the west parklands - this operated an electrical release on the mast and the ball dropped. It was subsequently replaced by radio time signals.

Further reading:

Parsons, Ronald, Lighthouses of South Australia Magill, S. Aust.: R. Parsons, c1985

Ibbotson, John, Lighthouses of Australia: images from the end of an era Surrey Hills, Vic.: Australian Lighthouse Traders, 2001

Reid, Gordon, From dusk till dawn: a history of Australian lighthouses South Melbourne: Macmillan in association with the Dept. of Transport and Communications, 1988

Websites:

Lighthouses of Australia Inc.: Lighthouses of South Australia

Lighthouses Australia: South Australia

Althorpe Island light station
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Althorpe Island lighthouse and cottage
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Althorpe's ladder
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Cape Borda lighthouse
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Cape Jaffa lighthouse
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Cape Jervis lighthouse
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Cape Northumberland lighthouse
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Cape Spencer lighthouse
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Corny Point lighthouse
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Glenelg jetty 1875
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Lighthouse at Point Lowly
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Lighthouse cottages Corny Point
View item details
Add To My SA Memory

Items 1 - 12 of 17

Next 5


Navigation

Home

About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes

Search

My SA Memory

Learning

What's on

Contributors