The Old Caloundra Lighthouse
The old Caloundra Lighthouse, the oldest building in Caloundra, was in danger of disappearing again forever. After its second rescue it is now safely back home in its original position in Caloundra.
The Caloundra light was established in 1896 and is the typical Queensland tower; a timber frame with corrugated zinc anneal cladding. A single keepers cottage was built adjacent to the light.
It is the oldest surviving building in Caloundra. The light was only attended by one keeper. It was connected to Brisbane by phone.
This light served both as a harbour light and a coastal light directing traffic towards the North West Channel into Moreton Bay.
In 1910, the light was upgraded from a fixed kerosene light to a fixed 4th with an incandescent vapour kerosene lamp, the first of it’s type in Queensland.
In 1942, the light was converted to 240 volt mains power with a petrol engine operated generating set as a standby.
In 1967, a new signal tower and lighthouse was erected for the Caloundra Harbour was erected next to the old lighthouse on Canberra Terrace. The old light was discontinued in 1968.
The old light remained until 1970 when under the threat of demolition the Golden Beach Power Boat Club acted and relocated the lighthouse to Woorim Park adjacent to their new clubhouse site.
No funds were made available and the move was made totally by volunteers. Due to the poor condition of the metal cladding it was rendered with concrete to seal it.
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After 30 years the Caloundra Lighthouse had deteriorated to the point where it existence was threatened.
A movement, made up of residents and the Council, worked towards it restoration and return to its original location. After several years little has eventuated due to lack of funds.
One problem was that because the building was moved from its original position it was not eligible to go on the Queensland State Heritage Register and therefore did not qualify for funding. It would qualify for registration if relocated back to Canberra Terrace.
The Caloundra City Council has made $50,000 available towards the project (refer to the Bulletin Apr 99).
High drama occurred when on 22 March 1999, an attempt was made to relocate the light tower back to its original location.
The lantern was successful removed. However, when the tower was being positioned to be placed on a low loader for transportation, the timber framework gave away and it dropped to the ground, causing considerable damage. Fortunately the tower was not a write off and was insured. Once the insurance assessment was made the tower was braced and repairs were undertaken.
On 11 June 1999, the tower was placed on a float and transported to the original site in Canberra Terrace. The tower was then lifted off the float and lowered onto its original site next to the 1969 lighthouse. Later that year after the lantern room had been restored, glazed and painted it was taken to the repaired tower and reinstated.
An open day was held in March 2001 to celebrate the conclusion of a long and arduous journey.
The man in charge of the Post Office was also the lighthouse keeper. At the time the post office was in a house next to the
Carl Walter Edlundh
The first keeper, Mr Edlundh was assisted by his daughter Florence. Born in Stockholm, he was a seafarer who from 1869 sailed all over the world, arriving in Queensland in 1881 were he served the coastal trade before becoming a pilot in Moreton Bay.
From here he served on many Southern Queensland lights finally ending up as the keeper at Caloundra in 1896 with his wife, a Queensland woman whom he had married in 1882. In 1912 it was recorded that they had nine children, 3 boys and 6 fine girls.
When electricity came to Caloundra in 1942 the lighthouse was connected with a backup auxiliary motor in case of power failure. From this point on the light was attended from the Brisbane Depot.
Harold Chesterman who joined the Lighthouse Service shortly after WW2 states:
“It originally had a kerosene light and was converted to automatic and plugged into the town mains when I came into contact with it in the late 1940¹s. It was most unreliable and I had many a trip to Caloundra from Brisbane, where I was based at the Lighthouse Depot at New Farm. At about 5 o¹clock on winter evenings, when all the housewives in Caloundra turned on their stoves and radiators, down went the voltage and out went the light. Then it would change over to batteries and a bell would ring in the Depot and I had to drive up to Caloundra to switch it back from batteries to the mains.”
Observer (22nd Feb 1995)
Charlie Bigg (who lived next to the lighthouse) was eventually engaged to look after the light. This meant that the bell would ring in Charlies’ house and all that was necessary was for him to walk next door and throw the switch back to the mains.
On the rare occasions when he went to the pictures with his wife, he would engage a ‘babysitter’ to come in and look after the light.
There is a list of keepers on the old pages …
We need your help in compiling a list of keepers for this lighthouse. If you have any information then send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.
The lighthouse grounds are open all year round.
Tours are available – see the link below to the Friends of Caloundra Lighthouses.
No lighthouse accommodation is available
Detail to come.