Nobbys Lighthouse

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse was established on an island whose future was doubtful right up the period prior to the light’s establishment.


The present lighthouse was established on Nobbys Head in 1854, which was then a small isolated coastal islet just off Signal Head.

It was only the third lighthouse built in NSW after the Macquarie Light in 1818 and the Hornby Light that was also built in 1858.

The first beacon had been lit on Signal Hill in 1804 to guide vessels into the Hunter River. It was an open coal fire that was only seen for several kilometres.

An oil burning light in a large metal device was established in 1821 and was visible for 12 kilometres. The oil light was not reliable so the beacon reverted to the coal fire once again.

The small tower has since been dwarfed by the taller buildings that house the Signal Station and Port Watch, amongst other things.

Originally called Coal Island, the Nobbys Head said to have originally been 60 metres high, was joined to the main land by a causeway that was begun in 1818 and later completed in 1846.

In 1854 it was intended to blow the island away to improve the harbour but strong public protests forced cessation of the work of destruction.

However the island was further reduced to 25 metres to accommodate the building of the lighthouse and signal station in 1858.

The original 20,000 candle-power light was attended by three keepers. The light was converted to electric operation in 1935 and demanned.

continued below …

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Title Address Description
Nelson Head
Darwin Dr, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Nelson Head

Point Stephens
Lighthouse Trail, Fingal Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Point Stephens

41A Nobbys Road, Newcastle NSW 2300, Australia


Norah Head
40 Bush St, Norah Head NSW 2263, Australia

Norah Head


We need your help in compiling a list of keepers for this lighthouse. If you have any information then send it to

Please include this lighthouse’s name, the keepers full name and what years they were keepers. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on.

Technical Details

First Exhibited1804
Current Tower1858
LocationLat. 32° 55.1'S, Long. 151° 48.0'E
Original OpticChance Bros
Current OpticAGA 250mm
Height10 m
Elevation35 m
Range21 NM
CharacterGrp Fl White (2&1) 20.0 s
Intensity196,000 cd
Light SourceSealite SL324 LED Array
Power SourceMains power battery back up
OperatorAustralian Maritime Safety Authority
CustodianAustralian Maritime Safety Authority
NotesSite controlled by Newcastle Port Corp

  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.


The lighthouse grounds are open every Sunday but the tower is closed. There are plans to open up the headland more in the future








  • Grant Maizels for Photographs
  • Richard Webber for Photographs
  • Annette Flotwell for Photograph
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • Brian Lord for Photograph
  • Newcastle Ports Corporation for Photograph
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • AMSA