South East Point (Wilsons Promontory) Lighthouse

The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse is the most southerly lighthouse on mainland Victoria. The 18 kilometre walk is well worth it to experience its spectacular location.


Wilsons Promontory marks the southern-most point of mainland Australia, and overlooks a relatively narrow shipping channel through Bass Strait between Tasmania and Victoria. The promontory was first sighted by Bass and Flinders in 1798, and was named by Governor Hunter in honour of Thomas Wilson, a merchant engaged in the Australian trade.

The Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse and keepers’ cottages were built by convict labourers on a 90 metre cliff on the point, over the period 1857-1859, using locally sourced granite. The works were supervised by James Balmain and Charles Maplestone of the Public Works Department, and contracted to P.S. Sinclair of North Melbourne.

The lighthouse construction cost 19,500 pounds, which was shared between the Victorian and New South Wales governments. The lantern and optic was supplied by Wilkins and Co of London. This original light, a fixed catadioptric light used 32 single wick oil burners and parabolic mirrors. The optic apparatus was replaced in 1913 by a Chance Brothers group flashing third order fresnel lens driven by a clockwork mechanism using a vapourised kerosene mantle. The new optic produced a group flashing character of (4) flashes every 17 seconds with an intensity of 18,900 cd.

The Wilkins lantern and Chance optic were replaced in 1975 by a four panel sealed beam lamp array and RP1 gearless pedestal. The light was converted to electric operation at this time with power supplied by generators, with conversion to solar power in 1993.

continued below …

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

Title Address Description
Cliffy Island
Victoria, AustraliaCliffy Island
South East Point (Wilsons Promontory)
Unnamed Road, Wilsons Promontory VIC 3960, AustraliaSouth East Point (Wilsons Promontory)
Cape Liptrap
755 Cape Liptrap Rd, Tarwin Lower VIC 3956, AustraliaCape Liptrap
Citadel Island
Citadel Island, Victoria, AustraliaCitadel Island
Deal Island
Unnamed Road, Tasmania 7255, AustraliaDeal Island

continued from above …

The rough circular stone tower was originally painted white. In the 1980s, the paintwork was stripped off, and the tower has been completely restored to the original stone finish. The white light, 117 metres above sea level, is visible for 25 miles.

A visitor in 1935 noted the maritime atmosphere at the lighthouse, comparing the lightstation to “a ship on dry land”. Lorenzo Robertson commented:

“There is a man-o’-war’s orderliness about it, a crack-liner spotlessness, a nautical routine, a personnel whose brown, brawny arms tattooed with anchors and ugly ladies indubitably proclaim them old sailormen. The interiors of the cottages had the unmistakeable ship-like smell of fresh paintwork and salt. There are pictures of ships on the walls, models of ships in cases over the mantlepieces, photographs framed in little cork lifebuoys, sea boots standing on sea chests, burnished copper jugs, neat coils of rope, sou’westers and oilskins on pegs….”

The granite buildings, whitewashed and red-roofed, reminded him of a Cornish fishing village.

There are four keepers’ cottages, which were also built of local granite, with corrugated iron roofs. One of the cottages was rebuilt in 1924, and two others rebuilt in 1952 after being destroyed during a bushfire.


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 Exhibited1859
ArchitectJames Balmain colonial architect of VIC public works office
LocationLat: 39° 07.7940' S Long: 146° 25.4610' E
Original OpticThomas Wilkins & Sons Catoptric
Current OpticTideland Nova 250 LED beacon located inside NAL1 lantern
ConstructionGrey stone tower, white lantern
Height19 m
Elevation117 m
RangeNom: 18 NM Geo: 17 NM
CharacterFl. W. 7.5 s
Intensity50,000 cd
Light SourceTideland LED beacon
Power SourceSolar
CustodianLighthouse tower-AMSA. Cottages VIC Parks
NotesAs at 2014
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.


The lighthouse and keepers’ cottages are located within the Wilsons Promontory National Park, and since demanning the cottages have become available for accommodation. However, there is no road to the lighthouse, with access to the lightstation a relatively strenuous 18 kilometre walk.


Tours are available each afternoon by request.


It is possible to stay in the cottages at the lightstation