The first lighthouse was completed in 1849 but the light was not officially lit until 1st June, 1851, the twenty second birthday of settlement in Western Australia, Fuel for this lighthouse was coconut oil and the light could be seen from up to 16 miles away. This lighthouse was 64ft. high and made from stone obtained from Nancy Cove. The light was upgraded in 1879 and 1881, but ships were still being wrecked on the rocks around the island, so a decision was made to build a new lighthouse.
A notice to all mariners was made on 9 May 1851 alerting people to the new lighthouse. "A light has been established on Rottnest Island - a revolving estoptric light will be exhibited from a tower near the centre of Rottnest Island after 1st June 1851 (anniversary of colony) from sunset to sunrise - white stone tower 53 ft. high with lantern 11 ft. high super imposed, 2 groups of 3 powerful lamps, the whole revolving once in 2 minutes-5seconds, flash duration in 55 seconds darkness, centre of light 197ft. above H.W.M. seen in clear weather at 7 leagues"
In 1891 Engineer in Chief, C.Y.O'Connor,
surveyed Rottnest Island for a new place for another lighthouse.
Photograph by J. O'Brien
A second lighthouse was built next to the original and opened on 17th March 1896. This lighthouse was approximately 125 feet above ground and could be seen up to 23 miles away. Nowadays this lighthouse has been maintained and upgraded to present day standards. The light was converted from a kerosene burner to electric in 1936. This made the light semi-automatic. The whole lighting system is now fully automatic and the lighthouse has been unmanned since 1990. The geographical range of the light was 23 miles but reports have been made of sightings of the light up to 40 miles at sea.
Another lighthouse was built at Bathurst
Point, and opened on 1st September 1900. This helped mariners to calculate
the distance from Rottnest by triangulation. The construction of a lighthouse
at Bathurst Point had been considered for a few years. The Premier of the
time announced that the
construction would commence, four days after the City of York was wrecked in an area now known as Crayfish Rocks. The height of the tower was 40 feet, but with the dome of the lantern the overall high was 63 feet above ground level. The fixed white light shinesat 98 feet above high water mark
The light was a second order dioptric system. The fuel first used was kerosene but in 1908 this was changed to acetylene. The light was visible for 15nautical miles. Having the lighthouses at both Rottnest and Fremantle made it safer forshipping to enter and navigate the waters in and around the area.
Arthur Head Lighthouse
Courtesy of the University of W.A
The first lighthouse was lit on the headland on 1st June, 1851, the twentysecond birthday of settlement in Western Australia, the fuel for this lighthouse was coconut oil, about three gallons were used per week. The oil first used was whale oil, which was then replaced by mustard oil.
The second lighthouse built at Arthur Head
was started in 1876 and was built close
the first. This lighthouse was first lit on the 1st October 1879. Convict labour was
used for the construction. Kerosene was the fuel used for the light. The tower of the
second lighthouse was taller than the first. It was approximately 72 feet and with the light
added on top the overall height wasaround 92 feet. The light used for this lighthouse
was a third order dioptric light andcould be seen from up to 14 miles away.
The lighthouse was closed down on 23rd August
1902 and replaced by the lighthouse at
Woodman Point. The lantern was taken to Bunbury. The tower was later demolished in
1905 so that construction of the Arthur Head battery could proceed. The stone from
the tower was used for road metal.
The tower of the first lighthouse was removed
after the completion of the second
lighthouse and the rectangular building at the base, was used as a place to store flags that were used for the flagstaff.
Photograph by J. O'Brien
When the new harbour was built, a light was installed both at Woodman Point and on the moles at the entrance to the harbour.The lighthouse at Woodman Point was established in 1902 and was the leading light which marked the fairway into Gage Roads. It was improved in 1921. Further modifications were made in 1981, consisting of an additional light being put in to improve the light's strength and quality. The light can be seen up to 17 nautical miles away. The first light was a paraffin light.
Photograph by A. Lawson
The South/North Mole lighthouses were designed by C.Y.O'Connor. The South
Mole lighthouse was installed in 1903, the North Mole was not installed until 1906. The reason for the North Mole lighthouse being erected later was so that the new mole could settle. The original lighthouse meant for the North Mole was installed at Gantheaume Point, Broome. The towers were made of cast ron and were 30ft. tall. All the components that made up the lighthouses were handmade. These lighthouses can still be seen in use today. They are used as indicators to the entrance of Fremantle Harbour. Photograph by A Lawson
The first light used in the South Mole lighthouse was a dioptric white occulting light of the fourth order and was visible up to 12 nautical miles away. After the light was first lit, it was found to be too powerful and caused confusion with the Woodman Point lighthouse. Both could be seen past Rottnest by shipping coming into the area and it was hard to tell which was which. To combat this problem the harbour trust decided to put a fixed green light in the South Mole lighthouse and a fixed red light in the North Mole lighthouse.
Beaconsfield Primary School
Fremantle, Western Australia