Fitzroy Island Lighthouse
Fitzroy Island and Little Fitzroy Island have been important locations for lighthouses leading ships through the reefs that make up the Grafton Passage to the town of Cairns.
In 1923 a carbide gaslight, was put in place on Little Fitzroy Island to warn ships in the Grafton Passage about the reefs around the Island. Little Fitzroy Island is a small Island just off to the main island.
A lighthouse was built on the main Island in 1943 on the ridge above the old lightkeepers residence. During the war unmanned lights in the Great Barrier Reef had been turned off and those manned were only turned on for identified ships as they passed by.
This lighthouse was unique, as it utilised a locally engineered lighting system which produced a characteristic that changed dependent on the direction of approach. Two synchronised, rotating bullseye lens panels were used to achieve this result.
The lighthouse on Fitzroy Island that can be seen today was built in 1973 and its light source was an array of sealed beam lamps. It stands on what was once the site of the No. 28 Radar Station, which was established in 1942 due to the constant threat of attack from the Imperial Japanese Navy. Once this lighthouse was built, the light on Little Fitzroy Island was deactivated.
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In 1992 the decision was made to shut down the lighthouse on Fitzroy Island and it is now used by the Fitzroy Island National Park as a visitors centre. After the closure of the lighthouse a new, smaller automated light was built on Little Fitzroy Island which is still in use today.
After the military base was shut down the buildings were divided up between the Yarrabah Aboriginal Mission and the Commonwealth Government. Those sold to the Mission were taken down and removed and the remaining Government buildings were used as homes for the lightkeepers.
There were a total of 90 lightkeepers and their families who lived on the Island during the 49 years that the lighthouse was active and the responsibilities of a lightkeeper on Fitzroy Island could be quite complicated and challenging.
M.V. Rooke was the head lightkeeper in 1950 and his time on the Island was plagued with problems, including visitors hunting the wildlife, dumping rubbish, destroying trees and even erecting illegal holiday homes. There was also an outbreak of bushfires started by exploding WW2 mines during his stint as head lightkeeper.
In 1960 new weatherboard homes were built for the lightkeepers and their families to replace the old military buildings, and as time went by the position of lightkeeper on Fitzroy Island became a lot easier and a much more pleasant experience.
The Lighthouse Walk
Although the lighthouse tower is closed to the public you can take a walk up to the site to see the lighthouse and some of the old cottages. It is a 3.6km return trip up a steep concrete road that starts at the north eastern point at Welcome Bay. There are many great viewing platforms along the way and the breathtaking views from the top will be well worth the walk.
The unique 1942 light is on display in the lighthouse office.
When the ranger is on duty you can enjoy 360 degree views of Fitzroy Island and the stunning Coral Sea. In winter you may even be lucky enough to spot a migrating humpback whale.
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.
|Location||Lat: 16° 55.3760' S Long: 146° 00.3881' E|
|Current Optic||Vega VRB-25|
|Construction||White double height size 3 GRP hut|
|Range||Nominal: White 15 nm Red 12 nm Green 12 nm
Geographical: 16 nm
|Character||Fl. WRG (3) in 15 secs|
|Intensity||White 28,868 cd
Red 6,062 cd
Green 7,217 cd
|Light Source||12V 50W C8 Halogen LP PR30s|
|Notes||Little Fitzroy Island as at Aug 2014|
NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.
The tower is not open to the public.
The lighthouse grounds are open all year round. Take a fastboat from Cairns.
Little Fitzroy Island be accessed by taking part in a guided sea kayak tour when visiting Fitzroy Island.
No tours of the lighthouse tower are available.
No lighthouse accommodation is available
Detail to come.
There is no Friends Group
Detail to come.
Detail to come.