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Lighthouse Museums

The Signal Room at the Museum
The signal room at the museum

Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum

The office and living areas in the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse tower structure have been used to create a unique museum that demonstrates how difficult life was for the early keepers and their families.

The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum
The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse was originally built on Margaret Brock Reef off Cape Jaffa. At the end of its service. the screw pile lighthouse was dismantled and reassembled at Kingston SE.



Established in 1872, life on the lighthouse was hard with up to three families of three adults and eleven children living on the platform at the same time. The platform was only 10 metres by 20 metres. The office and living areas of eight rooms were built as two floors into the structure of the tower. The original structure had a separate cook house as was the practice in colonial Australia.

The Office and Flag Room at the Museum
The office and flag room at the museum
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

During the daytime the children were kept in the cookhouse so the keepers could sleep.

The keepers would have three months on the lighthouse and one month ashore.

Soon cottages were built at Cape Jaffa - from then on two keepers would be ashore and two keepers on the lighthouse in four-week cycles, bringing the number of keepers to four.

Stores were brought out from Kingston every two weeks.

In 1929, these cottages were replaced by new cottages built in the nearby township of Kingston SE.

In later years only two men were stationed on the light.


One Blustery Night

A story is told that during a fierce storm one window on the residence level blew in. In fear that the wind would pressurise the lighthouse keepers quarters and blow out all the remaining windows, the lighthouse keepers wife, a huge woman sat in the window, to seal it, all night while her husband operated the light. The other lighthouse keeper was so petrified that he stood motionless all night until the storm had ceased.

The Upstairs Sitting Room
The upstairs sitting room
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


It is interesting to note that Cape Jaffa, as well as Cape Northumberland, were the only two lighthouses in South Australia where the keeper's children could attend a normal Government School. For this reason keepers with children were circulated through these postings.

Originally 3 Keepers and Families Lived on the Light
Originally three keepers and their families lived on the light
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


The lighthouse museum is easily accessible being adjacent to the beach road in Kingston. Regular tours are conducted by the Kingston branch of the National Trust of South Australia. A tour of this light and museum is well worth the effort.

Aerial view of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

The Surrounding Area

Special Thanks to:

  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
  • Ken Taylor
  • Alison Downing
  • National Trust of SA (Kingston Branch)
  • AMSA
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph


  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Story by Verne McLaren

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