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Cape Naturaliste
Admiralty Reference # 1790
1904 - present
Open to the Public

First lit 21/04/1904

Celebrating a Centenary 18/04/2004

 

Even though the building of the lighthouse was completed in 1903, it was not lit until the Lighthouse Keepers' Cottages were completed in April of 1904. The eighth lighthouse built in the state and only the third landfall light at a time when there was a rush of lighthouses being built around the coast of Australia.

Celebrating a Century of Service
Separated by 100 years, children still find Lighthouse's fascinating.
Alexandra had made a Birthday card for the Lighthouse's 100th Btirthday and brought it out to give to the custodian of the light Leon Chidlow.
More on the Centenary Celebrations and Details

 

Designer :
WA Engineer in Chief CSR Palmer
First Lit :
1904, April
Tower structure :
Short, circular, conical masonary tower. Originally unpainted
Tower Height :
19m
Elevation :
123m
Range :
25 n  miles
Illuminating apparatus :
Chance Bros 4.6 m lantern floating in a bath of mercury, originally driven by clockwork mechanism.
Fuel :
  • 1904 Whale oil
  • 1924 Vapourised Kerosene
  • 1978 Electricity
Light Character :
2 flashes every 10 seconds with intervals every 2.5 seconds and 7.5 seconds
Latitude :
Longitude:
  33 32S
115 02E
Open to the Public : 
Yes, Tours are conducted daily - 9.30 to 4.30; School hols & Long w/ends 9.30 to 5.00 (last entry 1/2 hour befroe closing)
Accommodation 
The Keepers' cottages are currently not available. 

1996 saw the last Lighthouse Keeper in Western Australia replaced by fully automatic operation at Cape Naturaliste.

 

The 4.6 metre diameter Prism Crystal lantern and a first order 920mm focal radius lens, were made by Chance Bros. in Birmingham, England. It is now conservatively valued at over $5 million. 

Currently lit by a 120volt 1000watt tungsten halogen globe, the 12.5 tonne lens magnifies the globe to just under 1 million candlepower which is visible for 25 nautical miles (46km).

The original light and turntable which still floats on a bath of mercury, was turned by a clockwork mechanism, which needed rewinding every 50 - 60 minutes at night. 

Now fully automated (July 1978) the lens continues turning all day. 
 

 


Source: Australian Hydrographic excerpt of Chart 756 - 1985

The limestone used for both the tower and the cottages, was quarried near Bunker Bay.

Prior to the building of the Lighthouse, some 12 ships had become wrecked among the strong currents and dangerous reefs surrounding the sharp point.

 Baudin, an early 19th century French explorer named both Cape Naturaliste and Geographe Bay after his two ships.

Located on a 100 metre cliff, the 19 metre high tower has become a valued tourist attraction and prime whale watching site.

 

The staircase curves around the central column in which the clockwork driven weight would have travelled.

 

The steps inside the lighthouse are unique in that they are made from teak blocks dowelled together and set end grain up for greater durability.

Internal fittings still in prime condition.

View of the three cottages and outbuildings from the top of the Lighthouse. The closest to the Lighthouse is used as the custodian's residence.

Identical in shape and layout, some changes have been made to individual cottages over time. The middle cottage is used as a Museum and visitor centre.

 

Australia Post celebrated the Lighthouses of Australia with a series of four stamps featuring the historic Macquarie, Troubridge Island, Cape Bruny and Cape Naturaliste Lighthouses.

Opposite is the first day of issue postcard dated 12 March 2002, which was franked with a stamp from Beacon 6472, a wheatbelt town in WA - far from the coast.

The Vlamingh Head Lighthouse at Exmouth, WA,  (photos by John Ibbotson), was also used in the promotion of the stamp issue.

Other Maritime History to be found at Cape Naturaliste

 

The original Jarman Island light and mechanism are on show in the Museum which is housed in the middle cottage.

 

In the grounds of the museum cottage you can also see the original self contained acetylene beacon from Great Sandy Island. The photo on the left (pre 1971) showing the light in its original location, was taken by Ralph Meakins, a mechanical engineer on the MV Cape Don, which travelled the coast of WA to service the lighthouses and deliver supplies to the Keepers and their families. The MV Cape Don is currently undergoing renovation in Newcastle with volunteer help provided by the MV Cape Don Society.

References:

  • Cummings, Glasson & McCarthy, Lighthouses on the Western Australian coast and off-shore islands Publ: 1995
  • Admiralty List of Lights and Fog Signals Vol K Publ: 1999
  • Register of the National Database - Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse - Database # 016693
  • Brochures from the Tour Guides/ Tourist Bureau
  • Australia Post publications Lighthouses of Australia  Publ: 2002
See also the following sites which feature Cape Naturaliste

Goegraphe Bay Tourism Association - including information on the various walk trails around the Cape.
South West Life - featuring stories of the Keepers.

Australian Heritage Commission - Cape Naturaliste
National Archives of Australia : Cape Naturaliste lighthouse plan of inside and outside galleries for lantern showing erection works, by 1915