Makeover for Australia’s tallest lighthouse

Monday 25 March 2019
Work underway at King Island’s mighty Cape Wickham Lighthouse.
cape wickham lighthouse

As Australia’s tallest lighthouse at 48-metres high, it’s one of our most historically significant, helping vessels safely negotiate some of Bass Strait’s most treacherous waters for almost 160 years. 

Our Aids to Navigation (AtoN) team is overseeing work to ensure it can keep lighting the way for many more decades while also preserving its extraordinary heritage value.  

The tower’s exterior painted surface will require a full strip back to bare stone in some areas prior to repainting. 

Inside, the old lead paint will be removed, with a fresh (non-lead) coat applied throughout. 

The lantern room’s asbestos blanking panels will also be removed and internal staircase upgraded. 

Work should be finished by the middle of the year (weather permitting). A temporary AtoN has been established while the contractor is on site. Cape Wickham Lighthouse is listed on the Commonwealth Heritage Register and considered one of Australia’s most important historic maritime sites. 

Built in 1861, it is one of a series erected to light the dangers of King Island and the western entrance to Bass Strait. 

The tower is built of solid granite quarried nearby. The original lantern was supplied by W Wilkins & Co of London, with an L Sautter & Cie first order 920mm fixed lens. 

In July 1918 an automatic light commenced on Cape Wickham, marking the start of the de-manning of Australia’s First Order lighthouses. 

It was also one of the first sites to have a radio beacon installed in 1941, a great innovation at the time. 

Further reading

Learn more about Australia's heritage lighthouses.