Norah Head Lighthouse

T]he Norah Head Lighthouse was the last to be built in the classical James Barnet style that had marked the erection of lighthouses throughout the later part of the 19th century in New South Wales.


The lighthouse was strongly mooted by local landholder Edward Hargraves (who is credited with starting the first Australian gold rush in 1851) because of his concern over the number of wrecks in the area. These included the Gwydir with three lives in 1894 and earlier a boat with 20 Chinese seamen whose bodies where washed ashore.

The lighthouse at Norah Head was established in 1903.

It was the last of the lighthouses built in the style of James Barnet. Even though it bears the typical characteristics of his style it is not known whether Barnet or his successor C W Darley who built the tower designed it.

The tower is a precast concrete block structure where the blocks were cast on the ground and raised into place. Earlier Barnet towers had the same style but their construction was expensive due to the availability of suitable stone and the use of stonemasons to shape and dress the stone.

continued below …

© All images are copyright of their respective photographers and are not to be used without permission.

Title Address Description
Nobbys Head
Newcastle East NSW 2300, AustraliaNobbys Head
Norah Head
40 Bush St, Norah Head NSW 2263, AustraliaNorah Head
Hornby Head
S Head Heritage Trail, Watsons Bay NSW 2030, AustraliaHornby Head

continued from above …

The light was upgraded in 1923 to a Ford-Schmidt kerosene burner that increased the its brilliance from 438,000 to 700,000 candlepower.

In 1961 it was converted to mains electricity and the power increased to 1,000,000 candlepower.


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 Exhibited1903
Permanent Tower
Current Tower
LocationLat. 33° 16.9' S.
Long. 151° 34.7' E.
Original Optic
Current Optic
ConstructionPrecast concrete blocks
Height27 m
Elevation46 m
Range26 NM
CharacterFl. W 15 secs, anti-clockwise rotation
Intensity1,000,000 cd
Light Source1000W 120 Volt tungsten halogen
Power SourceMains power
OperatorNSW Transport Maritime Services
CustodianNSW Department of Industry Crown Lands

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


The lighthouse grounds are open all year.

Site Access

The Norah Head Lighthouse is available for accommodation, tours and weddings.


The lighthouse is open for tours most days

Have your wedding ceremony at the Norah Head Lighthouse.


Accommodation is available in both the Head Lightkeepers and Assistant Lightkeepers cottages.


A small museum is in the base of the lighthouse tower.

Associated Lighthouses

Point Perpendicular

Cape Bryon


  • Annette Flotwell for Photographs
  • Cyril Curtain for Photographs
  • IR for Photographs
  • Ian Clifford for Photographs
  • Winsome Bonham for Photographs
  • Joy Groves, Central Coast Tourism, for information
  • AMSA
  • Brian Lord
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid