Cape Borda Lighthouse

The Cape Borda Lighthouse on Kangaroo Island was isolated and the scene of tragedy in its early years. It is the only square stone lighthouse in South Australia.


The lighthouse was built in 1858, and is the third oldest remaining in South Australia. It is also the only square stone lighthouse in South Australia.

It was built to guide sailing ships arriving in to South Australia off the Roaring Forty trade-winds and into the Investigator Straits and on to Adelaide.

In the early days supplies had to landed by boat and hauled up long steel railway at nearby Harvey’s Return.

The small cannon was put in place to be fired during fog to signal ships of danger before the introduction of radio. It was also believed that due to the Russian scare the placement of the cannon was symbolic of a small military presence, and therefore seen as a deterrence to invasion from possible enemy ships! Indeed one of the reasons for building the lightstation in that position was to be a lookout for Russian ships.

In late 1999, NPWSA restored the cannon and test-fired it at Midnight 2000 as part of a global exercise of time-signals at maritime locations around the world. The cannon was found to be Y2K compliant and has since fired every day at the traditional hour of 1pm

It is only one three lighthouses in Australia to retain a Deville lantern room.

The light was converted to automatic operation in 1989.

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

Title Address Description
Cape du Couedic
Cape Du Couedic Rd, Flinders Chase SA 5223, Australia

Go to Cape du Couedic

Cape Borda
Cape Borda Rd, Cape Borda SA 5223, Australia

Go to Cape Borda

Cape Marsden
Unnamed Road, North Cape SA 5223, Australia

Cape Marsden

Hope Cottage (Cape Willoughy Lantern)
1A Seaview Rd, Kingscote SA 5223, Australia

Hope Cottage

Pages Light
Deep Creek Cove Hike, Deep Creek SA 5204, Australia

Pages Light

Cape St Albans
Unnamed Road, Willoughby SA 5222, Australia

Go to Cape St Albans

Cape Willoughby
2706 Cape Willoughby Rd, Willoughby SA 5222, Australia

Go to Cape Willoughby

Cape Jervis
Flinders Dr, Cape Jervis SA 5204, Australia

Go to Cape Jervis

Point Malcolm
1740 Poltalloch Rd, Poltalloch SA 5259, Australia

Go to Point Malcolm

Cape Jaffa Platform

Cape Jaffa

Cape Jaffa (Kingston)
33 Marine Parade, Kingston SE SA 5275, Australia

Go to Cape Jaffa


Visiting the small cemetery, at Harvey’s Return, where there are 16 headstones, is a solemn reminder of the hardship endured by early lighthouse keepers and their families. One keeper died a slow agonising death after having his eye pierced in a fall. Children died of diseases with no access to medical treatment. One child was found at the bottom of a steep cliff, killed in the fall. Other children simply disappeared in this rugged scrubby terrain.

Family members buried at Cape Borda (Harveys Return)
WOODWARD Capt. G 1858 1st Head keeper (infection of eye injury)
JOHNSON Unknown 1862 Daughter of Lightkeeper Charles and Mary Johnson (aged 3 weeks)
WELLS Unknown 1873 Son of Lightkeeper, Thomas Wells (stillborn)
MAIN William 1875 Son of Headkeeper Capt. George Main (scarlet fever, aged 7 1/2 yrs)
MAIN Arthur 1877 Son of Headkeeper Capt. George Main (fell off cliffs, aged 3 yrs 4 mths)
JENNESON Lilly 1884 (aged 9 years)
WILLS Augusta 1884 Wife of Lightkeeper Wills (childbirth)
KOPP Irene 1895 Daughter of Jane Elizabeth Kopp
KERR Capt. Edward 1895
KOPP Jane Elizabeth 1903 Wife of Lightkeeper

Source: Captain Dan Grieve, NPWS – SA

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 Exhibited1858
LocationLatitude: 35° 45.1680' S
Longitude: 136° 35.6010' E
Original Optic
Current OpticChance Bros. 250mm f.r. Quad flashing catadioptric.
ConstructionWhite square stone tower and lantern
Deville, 100'' diameter (flat panels)
Height10 m
Elevation154 m
RangeNominal: 21 nm Geographical: 30 nm
CharacterFl. W. (4) in 20 s
Intensity193,000 cd
Light SourceLED Array Sealite
Power Source240V AC
NotesModernised 1/7/1988
As at Nov 2016

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


The lighthouse grounds are open all year round. The tower is not open to the public.


Tours are available – conducted by National Parks External link


Accommodation is available in the original keepers cottages External link


There is a small museum on site.