Cliffy Island Lighthouse

“We never got bored always plenty to do, with light watches, maintenance, weather reports …”
Terry Kilpatrick, Last Headkeeper.


The Cliffy Island Lighthouse was built by the Victorian State Government in 1884 from locally hewn granite.

Not much is known of the difficulties the original builders of then light encountered with difficult access and in such a hostile environment.

As the for the keepers the sides of the island were particularly steep so when supplies were landed they had to be first hauled up vertically then swung in to the land stage. They were then hauled another 350 metres along a cable railway to the lighthouse.

When landing the men and their families it was common practice to lower the whole boat down into the water. On its return, the boat, would be hooked onto a sling and raised 25 metres with its human cargo up the side of the cliff and onto the landing.

The keepers were accommodated in weather board and fibro cement cottages, the construction of which seemed at odds with the harshness of the environment.

The original stone cottages were destroyed by fire in 1919 and replaced by the weatherboard cottage transferred from Citadel Island in 1921 and a new brick cottage in 1927.

In 1885 the 400 ton Swedish barque ‘Lune’ struck a reef on the eastern side of the island, broke up and slid into deep water just off the island.

 continued below …

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

Title Address Description
Point Hicks
Lighthouse Track, Tamboon VIC 3880, Australia

Point Hicks

Cliffy Island
Victoria, Australia

Cliffy Island

South East Point (Wilsons Promontory)
Unnamed Road, Wilsons Promontory VIC 3960, Australia

South East Point (Wilsons Promontory)

Citadel Island
Citadel Island, Victoria, Australia

Citadel Island

Deal Island
Unnamed Road, Tasmania 7255, Australia

Deal Island

Cape Schanck
Cape Schanck Access Rd, Cape Schanck VIC 3939, Australia

Cape Schanck

continued from above …

Radio telephone was installed in 1926 and was for communication with the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse.

Supplies and mail were brought in weekly on a coastal steamer with the Lighthouse Services own vessel visiting 4 times a year for servicing the lighthouse.

The initial apparatus was powered by an oil wick burner that was upgraded to flashing in 1904. It was again upgraded in power in 1923 it would have been converted to the pressurised kerosene apparatus that was in place until 1971.

The lightstation was converted to automatic and demanned in 1971. The cottages were demolished and burned and only dry stone wall remain as a reminder of the keepers presence.

The light was converted to solar operation in 1989.

In 1995 the island was handed over to the Victorian Department of Conservation & Natural Resources with AMSA retaining a lease over the lighthouse tower.


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 Exhibited1884
LocationLat: 38° 57.0490' S
Long: 146° 42.3430' E
Original Optic
Current OpticVega VRB-25 located inside lantern
1971, beacon upgraded
ConstructionBrown masonry tower with white lantern
Height12 m
Elevation52 m
RangeNom: 17 NM Geo: 19 NM
CharacterFl. W. 5 s
Intensity29,384 cd
Light Source12V 35W C8 Halogen
Power SourceConversion of light to incandescent kerosene 1923.
Conv'd to Solar Power 1989.
NotesAs at Dec 2015

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


The tower is not open to the public. The Island is accessible by helicopter only.


No tours are available.