Richmond River Lighthouse

The Richmond River Lighthouse is the twin of Fingal Head, both lights having had their adjoining rooms removed. Tacking Point and Crowdy Head Lighthouses have retained their adjoining rooms, Clarence River was replaced and demolished in 1955. All were designed by Colonial architect James Barnett and constructed between 1878 and 1880 to the same design. 


A temporary light was first established in 1866 to guide ships into the river with vessels stopping at Ballina or continuing up river to unload and load cargo from the Northern Rivers area.

Tenders were called for construction of the 17ft circular stone tower and keepers cottage in 1878, it was built in 1879 and exhibited in 1880. The location of the light allowed construction of a short tower while still achieving a focal plane height of 115 feet.

The first apparatus was a Chance Bros fixed 4th order catadioptric light of approximately 1000 candelas. The light was visible for twelve miles in clear weather.

A 6th order light was raised on a wooden structure 33 yards from this light to act as a leading light for vessels entering the Richmond River.

A two wick oil burner provided the light source up until conversion to automatic acetylene gas operation in 1920 This allowed the removal of the keeper. Gas remained the illuminant  until conversion to mains electricity operation in the 1960s.

continued below …

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Title Address Description
Fingal Head
1B Lighthouse Parade, Fingal Head NSW 2487, Australia

Fingal Head

Richmond River
6 Harbourview St, East Ballina NSW 2478, Australia

Richmond River

Clarence River
1 Pilot St, Yamba NSW 2464, Australia

Clarence River

continued from above …


The light was run in conjunction with the Pilot Station and there fore only needed one keeper.

The location of records for the Ballina Pilot’s Station can be found at State Records of NSW.

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 Exhibited1866
Permanent Tower
Current Tower1880
LocationLat. 28°52' S, Long. 153°36' E
Original Optic
Current OpticChance Bros 250 mm focal radius drum lens with reflector
catadioptric: 270o
silvered reflector: 090o
Height7 m
Elevation35 m
Range17 NM
CharacterGrp. Fl. (4) 16 secs.
Intensity28,000 cd
Light Source12v 50 watt Tungsten Halogen Lamp
Power SourceMains Electricity. Battery Standby
OperatorNSW Transport Maritime Services
CustodianNSW Department of Industry Crown Lands
NotesAlso known as Ballina Head Lighthouse

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


The lighthouse grounds are open all year.







Associated Lighthouses

Fingal Head

Clarence River

Crowdy Head

Tacking Point


  • Annette Flotwell for Photograph
  • Ian Clifford for Photographs & Technical Data
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • Ian Clifford
  • Mary Shelley Clark and Jack Clark