Arthur Head Lighthouse

There have been two lighthouses on Arthur Head, close to the entrance of what is now Fremantle harbour.

Prior to the construction of the first Arthur Head lighthouse, signal fires were lit on the headland, which led to confusion if other fires were burning on the shore. The WA coastline is littered with treacherous reefs, rocks and shoals, and in the early part of the 19th century the coast was unlit. For a struggling colony that relied on imports, the loss of any vessel was a hardship felt by everybody.

Such was the need for a lighthouse on Arthur Head that it was paid for mainly by public subscription, with some government assistance. The lighthouse was made of stone and consisted of rectangular living quarters for the keeper with a round tower protruding from one side. The structure was nearly complete by February 1850, but the placing of the lantern, made locally by a Mr Nairn, was delayed because the contractor had not been paid. The light, with a bank of three silvered parabolic reflectors, is believed to have been finally exhibited in July of that year (sources are contradictory). Certainly, from 1 June 1851 a fixed white light was exhibited. The light was 92ft above high water level. The fuel was whale oil; later mustard oil.

As time went by a more powerful light was needed. A second lighthouse was built 10 yards north of the first and it was lit on 1 October 1879 after some delay caused by a ‘want of supplies of oil’. The second tower was also made of stone but had a lantern and third order lens supplied by Chance Bros. It was also a fixed white light and was 92ft above high water like its predecessor.

The top of the first lighthouse was removed, a conical roof of corrugated iron was added and it was used to store signal flags. It was demolished around 1902.

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Title Address Description
Cape Leeuwin
Leeuwin Rd, Augusta WA 6290, AustraliaGo to Cape Leeuwin
Breaksea Island
Unnamed Road, Nanarup WA 6330, AustraliaGo to Breaksea Island
Cave Point
Unnamed Road, Torndirrup WA 6330, AustraliaGo to Cave Point
Eclipse Island
The Gap Rd, Torndirrup WA 6330, AustraliaGo to Eclipse Island
Cape Naturaliste
Bunker Bay Walk Trail, Naturaliste WA 6281, AustraliaGo to Cape Naturaliste
Casuarina Point
1 Bennett Way, Bunbury WA 6230, AustraliaGo to Casuarina Point
Arthur Head
15 Captains Ln, Fremantle WA 6160, AustraliaGo to Arthur Head
South Mole
1 Fleet St, Fremantle WA 6160, AustraliaGo to South Mole
North Mole
N Mole Dr, North Fremantle WA 6159, AustraliaNorth Mole
Woodman Point
597 Cockburn Rd, Munster WA 6166, AustraliaGo to Woodman Point
Wadjemup (Rottnest)
Wadjemup Rd, Rottnest Island WA 6161, AustraliaGo to Wadjemup (Rottnest)
Bathurst Point
Lancier St, Rottnest Island WA 6161, AustraliaGo to Bathurst Point
5 Tank Road, Guilderton WA 6041, AustraliaGo to Guilderton
Escape Island
Escape Island, Western Australia, AustraliaGo to Escape Island
Pelsaert Island
Houtman Abrolhos WA 6530, AustraliaGo to Pelsaert Island
Point Moore
481-485 Marine Terrace, West End WA 6530, AustraliaGo to Point Moore
Bluff Point
118A Kempton St, Bluff Point WA 6530, AustraliaGo to Bluff Point
Cape Inscription
Unnamed Road, Dirk Hartog Island WA 6537, AustraliaGo to Cape Inscription
Babbage Island
13 Annear Pl, Babbage Island WA 6701, AustraliaGo to Babbage Island
Point Quobba
Unnamed Road, Macleod WA 6701, AustraliaGo to Point Quobba
Point Cloates
Cardabia-Ningaloo Rd, Ningaloo WA 6701, AustraliaGo to Point Cloates
Vlaming Head
Yardie Creek Rd, North West Cape WA 6707, AustraliaGot to Vlaming Head
Jarman Island
Reader Head Rd, Cossack WA 6720, AustraliaGo to Jarman Island
Gantheaume Point
Lurujarri Walk, Minyirr WA 6725, AustraliaGo to Gantheaume Point
Cape Bossut
Cape Bossut, Lagrange WA 6725, AustraliaGo to Cape Bossut
Cape Leveque
Broome-Cape Leveque Rd, Dampier Peninsula WA 6725, AustraliaGo to Cape Leveque
Caffarelli Island
Caffarelli Island, Western Australia, AustraliaGo to Caffarelli Island

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The second lighthouse became redundant on 23 August 1902 when the Woodman Point leading light came into use. The apparatus and lantern were removed and sent to Bunbury for the new lighthouse there. The dome and glazing are still in use – see Casuarina Point.

Western Australia had always been poorly defended and by the early 1900s it was considered necessary to build a battery on Arthur Head. A lot of stone had been removed from the headland during the construction of the harbour so there was little room to build the battery. The redundant lighthouse tower was in the way and had to be removed. There was a plan to move the tower to a park elsewhere in Fremantle where it would become a visitor attraction, ‘as from it, splendid views could be obtained of the surrounding land and seascapes’. The cost was estimated at £370. Although everyone seemed to agree that it was a good idea, neither the Fremantle Council nor the government wanted to pay for it! Discussions rumbled on for a couple of years, but eventually the matter became urgent. In May 1905 CH Carter’s tender of £120 to remove the lighthouse was accepted. The tower was broken up and used for road base.



Unknown Lightkeeper June 1851–Sept 1852 (?) John Peirl Lightkeeper Sept 1852 – June 1872, John Hoare Lightkeeper June 1872–Sept 1874, John Hart Lightkeeper Sept 1874 – July 1881, William Efford Lightkeeper July 1881 –Aug 1902, W Brotchie Assistant keeper June 1880–July 1881 First appointment of an assistant
Phillip Henry Hanham Assistant keeper July 1881–Jan 1889, Robert McGuire Assistant Keeper April 1889–Aug 1902, William Brown (jnr) Assistant Keeper (2) Sept 1896–Aug 1902, Samuel Efford Reserve Keeper March 1885 –1893, William Henry Jackson Acting Assistant Keeper 1895 Harbour master’s boat crew, Charles Chamberlain Reserve Keeper April 1894–Nov 1896, Harbour & Light shipwright.
Other names that appear in association with lighthouse but are unconfirmed in primary sources: George Henry Edward Heedes, Bernard McGrath 1881–83.

Technical Details

First ExhibitedJuly 1850
Second Tower1 October 1879
Location1st . 32° 03" 13´ S 115° 45" 11´ E
2nd . 32° 03" 14´ S 115° 45" 12´ E
Original Optic1st. Local manufacture – Catoptric using a bank of three silvered parabolic reflectors.
2nd. Chance Bros 3rd order fixed
DemannedWithdrawn from service 23 August 1902, replaced by Woodman Point lighthouse and Mole lighthouses
Construction1st. Stone tower with attached quarters
2nd. Round stone tower
Height2nd. 21.6 m
Elevation1st. 28 m
2nd. 28 m
Range1st. 30 km
2nd. 16 nm
CharacterFixed W. 190deg.
Light Source
Power Source
  NB: Information is historical data and is not for navigational purposes.


The tower is not open to the public.

Site Access

The lighthouse grounds are open all year round.


No tours are available.


No lighthouse accommodation is available


Detail to come.

Friends Group

There is no Friends Group

Associated Lighthouse

Detail to come.


Detail to come.


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