Point Perpendicular Lighthouse

Built to replace the Cape St George Lighthouse, the 21 metre tower & cottages, the first of three similar towers, Cape Byron 1901 & Norah Head 1903, were designed by Charles Harding. They are considered a close parody of his predecessor, James Barnett’s work. It was the first lighthouse in Australia to be constructed of pre-cast concrete blocks – made on site from local aggregate – lifted into position above a mass concrete base. The contractor Edward Kelly undertook the work for 20,280 pounds.

This new building technique eliminated the use of formwork used for the construction of mass concrete structures reducing cost & construction time. It also has the advantage of obviating disfiguring cracks caused by shrinkage of material on mass concrete buildings. Whilst common in other parts of the world this construction technique was new to the colony.

History

The Point Perpendicular Lighthouse was established in 1899 to replace the inaccurately placed Cape St George Lighthouse.

The original 1860 lighthouse had been built in the wrong position due to inadequate supervision by the authorities of the day. It was not visible to the northern approach at Jervis Bay and failed to warn of offshore reefs.

Even though when the error was realised it was intended to show a light at Cape St George only as a temporary measure it was not until 1897, over 30 years later, that work began on its replacement on the northern side of the entrance to the bay. 

Stores and materials for the new lighthouse were landed at Bindijine Wharf, constructed by George Franklin in 1898, on Honeymoon Bay on the Northern side of Jervis Bay. They were then transported by horse and cart to Point Perpendicular. This method of supply remained until adequate roads were constructed connecting Nowra to Currawong in the 1930’s.  

 

continued below …

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

Title Address Description
Crookhaven Heads
Prince Edward Ave, Culburra Beach NSW 2540, Australia
Point Perpendicular
Lighthouse Rd, Beecroft Peninsula NSW 2540, Australia
Cape St George
Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay Road, Jervis Bay Territory TAS 2540, Australia

continued from above …

Point Perpendicular was lit for the first time on the 1st May 1899 by the first head keeper William Parker who had transferred from Cape St George. The optic apparatus was manufactured by the English firm Chance Bros with the magnificent 1st order Fresnel lens & lantern still in place today. The original light source was a Chance Bros six-wick concentric oil burner with a twelve gallon lamp producing a light output of 100,000 cd. The Cape St George Lighthouse was quickly demolished to avoid any chance of confusion. On the 17th of March 1909 the light was converted to pressurised kerosene. As a testimony to the efficiency of this technology the light remained in this configuration with only minor changes until conversion to electric operation on the 12th of June 1964. When the old light was finally extinguished by the last keeper, Mark Sheriff, initially on the 21 December 1993, a failure of the new solar light on the 27th of December saw the old light reactivated until finally being disconnected from service on the 3rd of January 1994 after 94 years of service. The light replaced by a “lattice” style tower and solar powered beacon and the lightstation demanned. The old light was first re-lit on Saturday 17 November 1999 in conjunction with the Currarong Seafarer’s Festival Ball and to celebrate the centenary of the Point Perpendicular lighthouse. Since then it has been re-lit most years for Lighthouse Weekend in August.

Heritage Light

First Exhibited1 May 1899
Heritage Tower1898
StatusHeritage tower deactivated
LocationLat. 35°05.73' S Long. 150°48.19' E
OpticChance Bros 920mm 9 sided catadioptic
Deactivated4th January 1994
Demanned5th January 1994
ConstructionConcrete blocks
Height21 m
Elevation95 m
Range24 NM
CharacterFl. Grp (3) W 20s
Intensity1,200,000 cd
Light Source1000 watt tungsten halogen bi post
Power SourceDiesel generator
OperatorLighthouses of Australia, special occasions.
CustodianDepartment of Defence
NotesReplaced by solar light on scaffold structure
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.

Current Light

First Exhibited1 May 1899
Current TowerCommissioned 21 December 1993
StatusActive
LocationLat. 35°05.73' S Long. 150°48.19' E
OpticTideland Nova 250 LED signal lantern
Demanned4th January 1994
ConstructionSteel lattice tower surmounted with size 3 GRP hut
Height17 m
Elevation95 m
Range15 NM
CharacterFl. W (1) 10 secs
Intensity14,099 cd
Light SourceHigh intensity LED's
Power SourceSolar
OperatorAMSA
CustodianAMSA
NotesReplaced the 1899 heritage light
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.

Keepers

William Parker was the first head keeper and his assistants were William Simpson and Arthur Bailey. John Hampson was the last head keeper and left in July 1993. We need your help in compiling a list of keepers for this lighthouse. If you have any information then send it to keeper@lighthouses.org.au. 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.

Pt Perpendicular 100th Anniversary

On 1 May 1999, the Point Perpendicular lighthouse celebrated 100 years since it was originally exhibited, although celebrations were not held until October 1999. The Currarong Seafare Festival incorporated the centenary celebrations, commencing with the Seafarers Ball on 15 October 1999, followed by an art and photography competition based on “a century of seafaring”.  Celebrations were held at the lighthouse site on Saturday 16 October with activities including a Naval display, tours of the old tower, market day and children’s activities.

At around dusk, the new lattice lighthouse was turned off and the original lighthouse was re-lit by Ian Clifford for the first time since its decommissioning.

Access

The lighthouse can be reached via Nowra and is at the end of the Beecroft Peninsula in the Jervis Bay Military Reserve. Access is restricted 110 days per year for gunnery practice. 200 metre walk from car park, then enter through side gate next to one of the keeper’s cottages.

Tours

Only the reserve is open. The reserve is situated on the top of sheer cliffs (75m above sea level) and offers spectacular views, as well as opportunities for whale watching.

Accommodation

No. It is possible to camp nearby at Honeymoon Bay  External link

Associated Lighthouses

Cape St George

Cape Byron

Norah Head

Links

Point Perpendicular 100th

International Lighthouse Weekend 2005   External link

LoA Bulletin 0607

ABC – Saving the stories at Point Perpendicular’s lighthouse  External link

South Coast Register – August 16 2017 – Point Perpendicular Lighthouse open for International Lighthouse and Lightship weekend  External link

Sources

Annette Flotwell for Photographs

Ian Clifford for Photographs

Murray Foote for Photographs