Wonga Shoal Lighthouse

Early in the morning of November 17 1912 the sailing ship Dimsdale hit the structure, knocking it over. The two keepers were drowned. Wonga is an aboriginal word meaning sunset or west.


Wonga Shoal Lighthouse stood over its Semaphore anchorage for just 11 years between 1901 and 1912.The lighthouse was erected by Chance Brothers 2.8km off the Semaphore jetty, and first lit on 1st July 1901. It incorporated the lantern and machinery from the old Port Adelaide Lighthouse which it replaced.

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Title Address Description
Wonga Shoal
Wonga Shoal, South Australia, Australia

Go to Wonga Shoal

Marino Rocks
Marino Rocks Lighthouse, 40 Bundarra Rd, Marino SA 5049, Australia

Marino Rocks

Port Adelaide
2A McLaren Parade, Port Adelaide SA 5015, Australia

Go to Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide (Heritage)
Unit 6/26-28 S Australia One Dr, North Haven SA 5018, Australia

Go to Port Adelaide

Troubridge Shoal
93 Sultana Point Rd, Sultana Point SA 5583, Australia

Go to Troubridge Shoal

continued from above …

On 17 November 1912 the Wonga Shoal lighthouse was destroyed by the steel ship Dimsdale. The two lightkeepers Henry Franson and Charles McGowan were killed in the accident. The Wonga Shoal was a large sand bank off Semaphore: a lighthouse was stationed over it in 1901.

On the evening of 16 November 1912 the British ship Dimsdale sailed up Gulf St Vincent in ballast, seeking a cargo. Captain John Jones laid a course for the Wonga light and as he drew near ordered the course altered to keep the light on his port bow. However the ship was slow to respond to the helm and despite efforts to avert the accident the ship struck the lighthouse.

The lighthouse crashed into the sea and both lighthouse keepers were drowned. The Dimsdale’s boats were lowered to render assistance but the keepers had been trapped in the wreckage with no hope of escape. Their bodies were recovered the next day. A court of inquiry found Captain Jones guilty of negligence and his license was suspended for 12 months. He was acquitted of the criminal offence of manslaughter. Dimsdale was barely damaged by the accident.
The destroyed lighthouse was replaced by a lightship temporarily, and later by a new steel structure.

The lighthouse was eventually replaced by the lighthouse at Marino Rocks in the early 1960s.


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.

Technical Details

First Exhibited1901
Permanent Tower1901
LocationLat. 34°50'S. Long.138°27'E.
Original OpticChance 920mm 16 panel dioptric.
Current Optic
ConstructionIron tower on screw piles with accommodation for two keepers.
CharacterWhite flashing
Light Source
Power Source
NotesStructure destroyed November 1912.

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


This lighthouse no longer exists.

Associated Lighthouse

Port Adelaide Lighthouse

Marino Rocks Lighthouse