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100 years of national management of lighthouses
Today is the centenary of the Australian Government's management of lighthouses and other aids to navigation in Australian waters.
The first marine light on Australian soil was built just a few years after the colony’s founding in 1788. This was simply an iron basket on a tripod finally replaced in 1818 by Australia’s first lighthouse – Macquarie Light.
In June 1911 the Lighthouses Act came into effect after an extensive report into the condition of existing state lighthouses and the need for more. On 1 July 1915 the Commonwealth officially accepted responsibility for all light stations around Australia.
From the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service’s inception in 1915, through various Commonwealth agencies (including AMSA since 1991), the Australian Government has been responsible for the provision of an extensive network of aids to navigation around the coastline, now comprising nearly 490 aids at approximately 380 sites.
Lighthouses are often regarded as romantic symbols in Australian culture, though first and foremost they are a symbol of safety ensuring safe passage for ships along our coastline.
We have celebrated this anniversary with a variety of projects, including:
- an AMSA calendar featuring some of Australia’s heritage lighthouses
- hosting open days at various lighthouses, some of which are rarely open to the public
- producing cardboard kit models of lighthouses at Tasman Island, Bustard Head and Sugarloaf Point for their open days
- launching an interactive map detailing our 55 heritage lighthouses. This map went live today and is a valuable source of information for any lighthouse enthusiast.
This weekend, at the official Commonwealth Lighthouse Service Centenary celebration, we will also be launching the commemorative stamp and coin sets (pictured below) which were developed in partnership with the Royal Australian Mint and Australia Post.
Further information on our aids to navigation (including lighthouses) is available here.